MEDIA ADVISORY: 'Father of the Internet' to Speak as U.Va. Computer Science Department Celebrates 25th Anniversary on Jan. 29

January 25, 2010

January 25, 2010 — The Computer Science Department at the University of Virginia will celebrate its 25th anniversary Friday with a talk by Vinton Cerf, widely acknowledged as the "father of the Internet" and currently chief Internet evangelist for Google.

He and prominent U.Va. computer science faculty will speak at 1 p.m. in the Dome Room of the Rotunda.

The event is open to the University community, and media are invited. We will try to schedule one-on-one interviews with Cerf and the U.Va. speakers; if you are interested in scheduling an interview contact Zak Richards at 434-924-1383 or by Wednesday.

Google is much in the news because of censorship and e-mail hacking issues in China. In his talk, Cerf will explain how networks facilitate communication and collaboration, increase the rate of scientific discovery, serve as a key avenue for individual learning, manage our use of energy, promote democracy, influence entertainment and social networking opportunities, transform or create new jobs, and could potentially integrate with our neural systems at the motor/sensor level.

Cerf co-designed the TCP/IP protocols and basic architecture of the Internet during his tenure with the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency. As vice president of MCI Digital Information Services from 1982-1986, he led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial e-mail service to be connected to the Internet.

In a recent InfoWorld interview, Cerf, 66, takes some credit for the commercialization of the Internet: "In 1988, no commercial traffic was permitted on the Internet backbone at all, period. 'Sorry, it's for research and military only or academia,' and I said, 'Hey, the rest of the world and especially the rest of the American public was not going to get access to this network unless there was an economic engine to support it, so could you allow me to put MCI Mail onto the Internet backbone as a test of commercial and noncommercial use?' And they said yes, and after that the Internet took off." Read the entire interview here. [link to:

The U.Va. Department of Computer Science was formed in 1984, around the same time Apple introduced the first personal computer. It was a time when the Internet was still in R&D, and a "tweet" was merely the sound of a small bird.

"Computer science is young compared to other fields," said Mary Lou Soffa, who chairs the department in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. "With all that's happened in the past 25 years, it's exciting to think about everything that the next 25 will bring. I'm convinced that we will continue on a path of producing technology that is helpful and vital for society in general, across the world."

Paul Reynolds, a professor of computer science, will discuss the history of the department, and Soffa will speak about future plans for the department.