For that mother-of-all honorifics – father of the Internet – most sources name Vinton Cerf, now senior vice-president for Inter-net architecture and technology for WorldCom Inc., though a minority holds out for the late Jonathan Postel, who was director of The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.
Besides the Internet, the computer and IT world has many other remarkable progeny, of course. Necessity may have been the mother of all these inventions, but who were the fathers? We’ve listed some of the most significant of these offspring and the men generally recognized as their creators. There are, as in the biological world, some cases of disputed paternity, and – in an odd twist to this metaphor – some cases of undisputed, multiple fathers.
Father of the PDA Jeff Hawkins produced the first handheld while at GriD in the late 1980s. Now chief product officer at Handspring Inc. and founder of Palm Inc. Computing.
Father of Ethernet
Bob Metcalfe, while at Xerox Corp. PARC. He’s founder of 3Com Corp., former publisher of InfoWorld, rare livestock breeder and now partner at Waltham, Mass.-based Polaris
Fathers of the computer
John Vincent Atanasoff (1903-1995). Iowa State University professor, chief of the Acoustics Division at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, founder of Ordnance Engineering Corp. in 1952.
Charles Babbage (1791-1871). Cambridge University mathematics professor and polymath known for his contributions to the basic design of the computer in his Analytical Engine, never built in his lifetime.
Father of the browser
Marc Andreesson developed the Mosaic Web browser in 1993 while at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Now chairman and co-founder of Loudcloud Inc., former chief technology officer of America Online Inc., founder of Netscape Communications Corp.
Father of the microchip
Jack Kilby, with Robert Noyce, developed the integrated
circuit at Texas Instruments Inc. in 1958. Retired, Nobel Prize winner for physics in 2000 for the integrated circuit.
Fathers of the microcomputer, or personal computer
Alan Kay developed now-familiar graphical interfaces and a precursor to the laptop while at Xerox PARC in the 1970s. Is now vice-president and Disney fellow, Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development.
Andr’ Thi Truong at his company R2E in 1973, created the microcomputer Micral and is currently president of Advanced PC Technologies in France.
Ed Roberts owned MITS, the company that developed and sold the Altair 8800 kit computer in 1975. Now a medical doctor.
Fathers of the microprocessor
Federico Faggin, Marcian Hoff and Stan Mazor of Intel Corp., and Masatoshi Shima of Busicom designed the 4004, the world’s first commercial microprocessor, released in 1971.
Federico Faggin is co-founder and chairman of the board, Synaptics. Marcian “Ted” Hoff is chief technologist at Teklicon, a litigation consultancy in San Jose, Calif.
Stan Mazor is now director of training at Numerical Technologies in San Jose and a recipient of the 2000 Robert N. Noyce Award from the Semiconductor Industry Association for his
contribution to the invention of the microprocessor. Finally, Masatoshi Shima is vice-chairman, V.M. Technology.
Raymond Holt has brought suit for recognition of his team’s development of the microprocessor at Garrett Airesearch Corp., in a classified project for the Navy in 1969. He’s resident/owner of The Cornerstone Co., a South Park, Pa.-based business solutions consultancy.
Father of the relational database
E.F. Codd, while at IBM Corp. in 1970. Now retired.
Father of the World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee developed Internet-based hypermedia initiative while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, in 1989. Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, he holds the 3Com Founders chair at the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) at MIT.
Father of the mouse
Douglas C. Engelbart, while at Stanford Research Institute in the late 1960s. Director of Bootstrap Institute in Fremont, Calif., and winner of the National Medal of Technology in 2000.