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Photo by Irene Fertik, USC News Service. Copyright 1994, USC
|Born||Jonathan Bruce Postel|
August 6, 1943
|Known for||Request for Comment|
Jonathan Bruce Postel (pronounced /pəˈstɛl/; August 6, 1943 – October 16, 1998) made many significant contributions to the development of the Internet, particularly with respect to standards. He is known principally for being the Editor of the Request for Comment (RFC) document series, and for administering the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority until his death. The Internet Society's Postel Award is named in his honor, as is the Postel Center at Information Sciences Institute. His obituary was written by Vint Cerf and published as RFC 2468 in remembrance of Postel and his work.
Postel attended UCLA where he earned his B.S. (1966) as well as his M.A (1968) in Engineering. Attending UCLA, he completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1974.
Postel was the RFC Editor from 1969 until his death, and wrote and edited many important RFCs, including RFCs 791-793, which define the basic protocols of the Internet protocol suite, and RFC 2223, Instructions to RFC Authors. He wrote or co-authored more than 200 RFCs.
Postel served on the Internet Architecture Board and its predecessors for many years. He was the Director of the names and number assignment clearinghouse, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), from its inception. He was the first member of the Internet Society, and was on the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society. He was the original and long-time .us Top-Level Domain administrator. He also managed the Los Nettos Network.
All of the above were part-time activities he assumed in conjunction with his primary position as Director of the Computer Networks Division ("Division 7") of the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California.
The US takeover of the DNS Root Authority
On January 28, 1998, Postel, on his own authority, emailed eight of the twelve operators of Internet's regional root nameservers and instructed them to change the root zone server from then SAIC subsidiary Network Solutions (NSI)'s A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET. (188.8.131.52) to DNSROOT.IANA.ORG (184.108.40.206). The operators complied with Postel's instructions, thus dividing control of Internet naming between IANA and the four remaining U.S. Government roots at NASA, the .mil server, BRL and NSI. He soon received a telephone call from a furious Ira Magaziner, President Clinton's senior science advisor, who instructed him to undo this change - which he did. Within a week, the US NTIA issued its "Green Paper" asserting the US government's definitive authority over the Internet DNS root zone.
The significance of Jon Postel's contributions to building the Internet, both technical and personal, were such that a memorial recollection of his life forms part of the core technical literature sequence of the Internet in the form of RFC 2468 "I Remember IANA", written by Vinton Cerf. (This is no trivial thing given that between 1969 and February 2002, only 3,240 RFCs were published.)
Perhaps his most famous legacy is from RFC 793, which includes a Robustness Principle which is often quoted as "Postel's Law": "be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others" (often reworded as "be conservative in what you send, liberal in what you accept").
- History of the Internet
- Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing (1972 documentary w/Postel cameo)
- STD 8
- Jonathan B. Postel Service Award
- ↑ Home page
- ↑ Biography
- ↑ USC/ISI Computer Networks Division ("Div 7")
- ↑ IANA
- ↑ RFC-Editor
- ↑ Remembering Jonathan B. Postel at the Postel Center
- ↑ In Memory of Jon Postel at the Internet Society
- ↑ Jonathan B. Postel 1943–1998
- ↑ About the Postel Award
- ↑ The Postel Center
- ↑ Los Nettos
- ↑ 'God of the Internet' is dead
- ↑ Domain Name Handbook
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