Robert Elliot George Kahn
Kahn in Geneva, May 2013
Robert Elliot Kahn

(1938-12-23) December 23, 1938 (age 85)
Alma materCity College of New York (B.E.E., 1960)
Princeton University
(M.A., 1962; Ph.D., 1964)
Known forTCP/IP
SpousePatrice Ann Lyons
Scientific career
FieldsTelecommunications, networking
InstitutionsBell Labs
Corporation for National Research Initiatives
Thesis Some problems in the sampling and modulation of signals  (1964)
Doctoral advisorBede Liu

Robert Elliot Kahn (born December 23, 1938) is an American electrical engineer who, along with Vint Cerf, first proposed the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), the fundamental communication protocols at the heart of the Internet.

In 2004, Kahn won the Turing Award with Vint Cerf for their work on TCP/IP.[1]

Background information

Kahn was born in New York to parents Beatrice Pauline (née Tashker) and Lawrence Kahn in an Ashkenazi Jewish family.[2][3][4][5][6] Through his father, he is related to futurist Herman Kahn. After receiving a B.E.E. degree in electrical engineering from the City College of New York in 1960, Kahn went on to Princeton University where he earned a M.A. in 1962 and Ph.D. in 1964, both in electrical engineering. At Princeton, he was advised by Bede Liu and completed a doctoral dissertation titled "Some problems in the sampling and modulation of signals."[7][8] He first worked at Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., then in 1972 joined the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) within DARPA. In the fall of 1972, he demonstrated the ARPANET by connecting 20 different computers at the International Conference on Computer Communications (ICCC), "the watershed event that made people suddenly realize that packet switching was a real technology."[9] He then helped develop the TCP/IP protocols for connecting diverse computer networks. After he became director of IPTO, he started the United States government's billion dollar Strategic Computing Initiative, the largest computer research and development program ever undertaken by the U.S. federal government.[10]

After thirteen years with DARPA, Kahn left to found the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) in 1986, and as of 2022 remains its chairman, CEO and president.[11]

The Internet

While working on the SATNET satellite packet network project, he came up with the initial ideas for what later became the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which was intended as a replacement for an earlier network protocol, NCP, used in the ARPANET. TCP played a major role in forming the basis of open-architecture networking, which would allow computers and networks all over the world to communicate with each other, regardless of what hardware or software the computers on each network used. To reach this goal, TCP was designed to have the following features:

Vint Cerf joined him on the project in the spring of 1973, and together they completed an early version of TCP. Later, the protocol was separated into two separate layers: host-to-host communication would be handled by TCP, with Internet Protocol (IP) handling internetwork communication.[12] The two together are usually referred to as TCP/IP, and form part of the basis for the modern Internet.

In 1992 he co-founded with Vint Cerf the Internet Society, to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy.


In 1981, Bob Kahn was elevated to the grade of IEEE fellow for original work in packet switching mobile radio telecommunications technology.[13] He was elected as a member to the National Academy of Engineering in 1987 for research contributions in computer networks and packet switching, and for creative management contributions to research efforts in computers and communications. He was elected a Founding Fellow of Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence in 1990.[14]

He was awarded the SIGCOMM Award in 1993 for "visionary technical contributions and leadership in the development of information systems technology", and shared the 2004 Turing Award with Vint Cerf, for "pioneering work on internetworking, including .. the Internet's basic communications protocols .. and for inspired leadership in networking."

Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by President Bush

He is a recipient of the AFIPS Harry Goode Memorial Award, the Marconi Award, the ACM SIGCOMM Award, the President's Award from ACM, the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computer and Communications Award, the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal, the IEEE Third Millennium Medal, the ACM Software Systems Award, the Computerworld/Smithsonian Award, the ASIS Special Award and the Public Service Award from the Computing Research Board. He has twice received the Secretary of Defense Civilian Service Award.

He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Pavia in 1998.

He was awarded the Stibitz-Wilson Award from the American Computer & Robotics Museum in 1999 for Pioneering the Internet through Major Design and Development Contributor to the Original ARPANET NCP Protocol and Co-Inventor of the Internet's TCP/IP Protocol.[15]

He is a recipient of the 1997 National Medal of Technology, the 2001 Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, the 2002 Prince of Asturias Award, and the 2004 A. M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery.[16] Kahn received the 2003 Digital ID World award for the Digital Object Architecture as a significant contribution (technology, policy or social) to the digital identity industry.

In 2005 he was awarded the Townsend Harris Medal from the Alumni Association of the City College of New York, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the C & C Prize in Tokyo, Japan.

He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2006.

He was inducted as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum in 2006 "for pioneering technical contributions to internetworking and for leadership in the application of networks to scientific research."[17]

He was awarded the 2008 Japan Prize for his work in "Information Communication Theory and Technology" (together with Vinton Cerf).

The duo were also awarded with the Harold Pender Award, the highest honor awarded by the University of Pennsylvania School Engineering and Applied Sciences, in February 2010.

He has also served on the board of directors for Qualcomm.

In 2012, Kahn was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society.[19]

In 2013 Kahn was one of five Internet and Web pioneers awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.[20]

Kahn received the 2024 IEEE Medal of Honor for "pioneering technical and leadership contributions in packet communication technologies and foundations of the Internet."[21]

Honorary degrees

Kahn has received honorary degrees from Princeton University, University of Pavia, ETH Zurich, University of Maryland, George Mason University, the University of Central Florida and the University of Pisa, and an honorary fellowship from University College, London.

In 2012 he was also recognized as honorary doctor of Saint Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics.[22]


See also


  1. ^ "Robert E Kahn - A.M. Turing Award Laureate".
  2. ^ "Leaders in Technology, and Also Jewish | Jewish Reconstructionist Community". Archived from the original on March 20, 2017. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  3. ^ "Jew of the Week: Bob Kahn - Jew of the Week". February 15, 2012.
  4. ^ Oral History of Robert KahnArchived July 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Who's who in Frontiers of Science and Technology
  6. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths Kahn, Lawrence" - New York Times (April 30, 1999). Retrieved on July 24, 2013.
  7. ^ "Bede Liu". Dean of the Faculty. Archived from the original on September 6, 2021. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  8. ^ Kahn, Robert E. (1964). Some problems in the sampling and modulation of signals. Archived from the original on June 25, 2021 – via Princeton University Library Catalog.
  9. ^ Kahn, Robert E. (April 24, 1990). "Oral history interview with Robert E. Kahn". University Digital Conservancy. Charles Babbage Institute. Archived from the original on September 29, 2023.
  10. ^ "Robert E. Kahn". Corporation for National Research Initiatives. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  11. ^ "About CNRI". CNRI. February 2022. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  12. ^ Janet, Abbate (1999). Inventing the Internet. MIT Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-262-01172-7.
  13. ^ "IEEE Fellows 1981 | IEEE Communications Society".
  14. ^ "Elected AAAI Fellows". AAAI. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  15. ^ "Stibitz-Wilson Awards 1999".
  16. ^ "Robert E Kahn". A. M. Turing Award. ACM. 2004. Archived from the original on July 3, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2010. For pioneering work on internetworking, including the design and implementation of the Internet's basic communications protocols, TCP/IP, and for inspired leadership in networking.
  17. ^ CHM. "Robert Kahn — CHM Fellow Award Winner". Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved March 30, 2015.[1] Archived April 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Robert E Kahn". ACM Fellows. ACM. 2001. Retrieved January 23, 2010. For leadership in the design of the Internet, strategic computing, digital libraries, digital object infrastructure and digital intellectual property protection technology.
  19. ^ 2012 Inductees Archived December 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Internet Hall of Fame website. Last accessed April 24, 2012
  20. ^ "2013 Winners Announced" Archived January 2, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering
  21. ^ "Robert E. Kahn". IEEE Awards. Retrieved December 14, 2023.
  22. ^ "Robert Kahn will receive a degree and a mantle of Honorary Doctor of Science in the University ITMO". May 14, 2013.
  23. ^ Robert Kahn; Vinton Cerf (October 2, 2000). "Al Gore and the Internet". The Register. Archived from the original on September 19, 2008. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
Awards and achievements Preceded byTadahiro Sekimoto IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal 1997with Vint Cerf Succeeded byRichard Blahut