Father of Internet Passes Away

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011  |  Updated 12:30 PM PDT
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Father of Internet Passes Away

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Paul Baran died at 84.

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You might not recognize his name, but his work transformed your life. This weekend marked the passing of Paul Baran, one of the engineers who helped make the Internet a reality.

The cause of death was lung cancer, according to the CC Times. He was 84, and is survived by his son and three grandchildren.

The Internet's roots go back to the 1960s, when Baran came up with a way to route electronic traffic. In his vision, small pieces of data would be broken up into chunks and sent from one relay to another, then reassembled at their destination. Fifty years later, that's precisely how the Internet works.

At the time, several companies passed on his crazy idea -- including AT&T. It was the Department of Defense that built the first version. At first, one of the highlights of the network was its ability to withstand attack. Because the data was divided into pieces and sent along a variety of paths, a blackout in one section of the network wouldn't necessarily bring down the entire communications system.

Despite his prominent role, Baran was modest about the creation of the net. He took pains to point out that other people, such as World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, deserve credit as well.

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