Second Annual EFF Pioneer Awards

On March 10, at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Burlingame, California, the Electronic Frontier Foundation presented its Second Annual Pioneer Awards to five recipients who were judged to have made significant and influential contributions to the field of computer-based communications. The 1993 Pioneer Award recipients were Paul Baran, Vinton Cerf, Ward Christensen, Dave Hughes and the USENET software developers, represented by the software's originators Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis.

Nominations for the Pioneer Awards were carried out over national and international computer-communication systems from November 1992 to February 1993. A panel of four judges selected the winners from these nominations.

The Pioneer Award Recipients

Paul Baran was the original inventor of the notion of packet switching, a technology of fundamental importance to data networks. Packet switching makes possible the efficient and simultaneous transmission of many messages from many sources to many destinations over the same circuit. Mr. Baran's innovations in other and related technologies have led him to co-found a number of companies in Silicon Valley including Telebit, Packet Technologies (a portion of which later became StrataCom), Equatorial Communications, Metricom, InterFax and his current venture, Com21.

Dr. Vinton Cerf led the research project which developed the TCP/IP protocol suite, the open system interconnection protocol which is used today by schools, government, corporations and an increasing number of individuals to communicate with each other over the Internet. Dr. Cerf also participated in the development of the ARPANET host protocols and managed the Internet, Packet Communications and Networked Security programs for DARPA. While working at MCI, he led the engineering effort to develop MCI Mail. He is now vice president of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives where he is responsible for projects involving the Internet, electronic mail, and Knowledge Robot research.

Ward Christensen wrote the original software program, "MODEM.ASM", which came to be called "Xmodem" or the "Christensen protocol". For untold numbers of early-to-present day computer communications users, Xmodem has made it possible to transfer files, error-free, over phone lines from one computer to another. Xmodem file transfer has been the major means of information exchange for computer hobbyists and small business users through the first decade of the personal computer revolution. Mr. Christensen also programmed the first microcomputer dial-in system which he named a "BBS" - bulletin board system. His original BBS, CBBS/Chicago, is still in operation. He is in his 25th year at IBM.

Dave Hughes has been an outspoken and effective grassroots evangelist and spokesperson for popular computer networking and electronic democracy for over a decade. He fashioned his own computer system at Old Colorado City Communications in1985, and soon brought the municipal elected government of Colorado Springs online. He helped design and implement a personal computer network connecting one-room rural schoolhouses in Montana to worldwide information resources. He continually brings network connections and new applications to new populations here and abroad. Perhaps most importantly, he is a tireless and enthusiastic communicator, offering his experience, his inspiration and his vision to any and all on the Net.

USENET is a distributed bulletin board system with approximately two million readers worldwide. It came into being in late1979 through the inspiration of Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis combined with the design and programming efforts of Steve Bellovin, Stephen Daniel, and Dennis Rockwell. Following USENET's introduction in 1980, the resulting and ever-expanding collection of "newsgroups" began to be carried and circulated by a growing number of networked sites. The ongoing work of numerous individuals has allowed Usenet to survive its increasing popularity. The daily traffic is now approximately 20,000 articles, totaling 50 megabytes, posted to 2000 different newsgroups.

Tom Truscott is currently a distributed computing professional at IBM in the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. He has authored a number of UNIX-related articles, and is a member of ACM, IEEE, and Sigma Xi.

James Ellis is currently the Manager of Technical Development at the Computer Emergency Response Team, which is the team created to assist Internet sites with computer security incidents. At CERT, he is responsible for analyzing UNIX system vulnerabilities and for developing tools to assist in the handling of security incidents.


This year's judges for the Pioneer Awards were: Jim Warren, Pioneer Award recipient from 1992 who coordinated the judging process, Steve Cisler of Apple Computer, Esther Dyson, editor of Release 1.0, and Bob Metcalfe, Editor of Infoworld.

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