[DNS] Fw: Net pioneer Postel dies after surgery

[DNS] Fw: Net pioneer Postel dies after surgery

From: Jason Pouflis <pouflis§eisa.net.au>
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 18:11:16 +1000

Posted at 5:31 p.m. PDT Saturday, October 17, 1998 

Net pioneer Postel dies after surgery

Associated Press 

WASHINGTON -- 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

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 www.ap.org.

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

``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 anymore.''

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

Received on Sun Oct 18 1998 - 16:11:53 UTC

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