Among the early architects of the internet, who helped shape the internet as it is today, Lawrence Roberts is a prominent name. He was the program manager for ARPAnet — a precursor to the internet.
Sadly, he died on December 26th at the age of 81. Even though he was a public figure for the internet as much as Tim Berners-Lee or Vint Cerf, the key decisions he made ended up deciding how the internet behaves today.
Dr. Roberts, with the help of his colleagues, created the foundation of Arpanet and refined many ideas on how data should flow.
One of the key breakthroughs he made was the implementation of packet switching technology which breaks data into discrete bundles. These data bundles then sent along various paths around a network and reassembled at their destination.
His decision to use packet switching as the underlying technology for Arpanet still plays a pivotal role in how the internet works today. Distributed networking, another concept which is important to the present day internet, was first used by him in Arpanet.
Even after leaving ARPA in 1973, he didn’t stop contributing to the world. Lawrence Roberts also helped in commercializing packet switching technology through his company Telenet. He also spent later parts of his career trying to improve the quality of internet networking.
Even though many of you might not have known about Dr. Roberts, his influence can still be felt across the internet.