Internet Pioneer Postel Dies

Sun Oct 18 10:21:50 PDT 1998

Thanks to Mr. Postel's work, we have the various email lists which may set the
groundwork for Direct Democracy.
Internet Pioneer Postel Dies


.c The Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jon Postel, the Internet pioneer who wielded enormous
influence managing technical details of the global computer network, has died
of complications from heart surgery in Los Angeles, friends in Washington said
Saturday. He was 55. 

Postel, considered by the Clinton administration to be a crucial player in the
future of the Internet, died Friday night while recovering from surgery to
replace a leaking heart valve, said Vint Cerf, a senior vice president for MCI
Worldcom Inc. who worked closely with Postel. 

The death also was announced Saturday at an Internet conference in Barcelona,
said Bill Semich, the president of .nu domain, another Internet company. 

Postel's death comes at a critical juncture for the Internet, with the federal
government in the midst of largely turning over management of the worldwide
network to a non-profit group that Postel helped organize. 

Though Postel worked behind the scenes and was hardly known outside high-tech
circles, his role as director of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
allowed the Internet to match unique numerical addresses for computers on the
global network with its millions of Web addresses, such as 

So powerful was Postel that ``The Economist'' once dubbed him ``god'' of the

``Jon was a very private person and didn't seek the limelight at all,'' said
Cerf, who attended high school with Postel in California. ``He preferred to
exercise his stewardship role in a very quiet but competent way.'' 

``Being famous never drove Jon,'' agreed another longtime friend, David
Farber, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. ``He had tremendous
influence, people respected his intellect.'' 

Earlier this year, Postel drew sharp criticism but demonstrated his influence
when he redirected half the Internet's 12 directory-information computers to
his own system. He told federal officials afterward he was running a test to
see how smoothly such a transition could be made. 

A researcher at the University of Maryland at College Park, which controls one
of those computers, told The Washington Post: ``If Jon asks us to point
somewhere else, we'll do it. He is the authority here.'' 

Cerf said Postel underwent a heart-valve replacement in 1991, but the
replacement value started to leak about 10 days ago. He was quickly
hospitalized for surgery and was recovering when he died suddenly. 

``One minute he was alert and laughing about a joke, and the next minute he
was gone,'' Cerf said. ``It was very fast.'' 

Postel, who was unmarried with no children, was intensely private. When a
recent trade publication profiled him and told him readers were interested in
his personal life, he answered: ``If we tell them, they won't be interested

Cerf said Postel is survived by a brother, Mort Postel, who lives in Los
Angeles with his wife. 

AP-NY-10-17-98 2019EDT

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list