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Internet trailblazer Paul Baran dies

Palo Alto resident pioneered early networking technology

Paul Baran, 84, a resident of Palo Alto, died Saturday (March 26) of lung cancer. He is best known as a co-creator of the technology behind the Arpanet, a precursor to the modern Internet.

He was born in Poland and grew up in Philadelphia, Penn., his daughter-in-law, Jane Baran, said.

He earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Drexel University and a master's degree from UCLA.

While working at RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., he developed the idea of packaging data into discrete bundles, which are then sent on various paths around a network and reassembled at their destination, according to a New York Times article.

The U.S. Department of Defense eventually built its Arpanet network, which was eventually replaced by the modern Internet, based on the ideas of Baran and others.

"I'm tremendously proud of him. It was an entire change of thinking," his son David Baran said of his father's groundbreaking work.

He also founded a nonprofit and seven companies. He and his family moved to the Palo Alto area in 1970, David Baran said.

His wife, Evelyn, predeceased him in 2007. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, David and Jane Baran of Atherton; three grandchildren; and his companion, Ruth Rothman.

Comments

Posted by Rossta, a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

Rossta is a registered user.

I didn't know Paul personally, but learned of him when I started my second job in 1989 at StrataCom (the FastPacket company). On my first day, to help me come up to speed on what the company was doing, I was given a white paper written by Paul titled (I think) "Packet Networks". I had come from the telephone industry, where most of our networks were built at the time, and this concept of a packet network was pretty radical.

Now, 20+ years later, almost all of our day-to-day networks are packet based. Your ethernet LAN, your cellular phones, the TCP/IP internet. Pretty awesome legacy! Way to go, Paul!


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