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Comer inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame

11-07-2019

Distinguished Professor Douglas Comer was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame on September 27, 2019 in San Jose, Costa Rica. 

As one of the earliest TCP/IP and internetworking researchers, Comer wrote the first series of textbooks explaining the scientific principles underlying the design of the Internet and its communications protocols, providing some of the earliest formal guidance for building efficient networks and applications that use the Internet. 

Comer’s three-volume textbook series, Internetworking with TCP/IP, written in 1987, is widely considered to be the authoritative reference for Internet protocols. The series played a key role in popularizing Internet protocols by making them more understandable to a new generation of engineers and IT professionals. 

When reflecting on that time, Comer noted, “The hard part was everything was new at the same time, there was new hardware, new protocols, a new implementation of protocols in the operating system. It was difficult to figure out how to build protocol software in the operating systems. You have to understand, at the time, people didn’t use networks so everything was being done at the same time and you couldn’t go to the store and buy hardware or ask people how an application should really work.”

Prior to Comer’s books, which have now been translated into over 16 languages and are still widely used in academia and by networking professionals around the world, the only source of information about the Internet’s design and protocols was limited to standards documents, which only outlined individual protocols. Comer’s books went beyond this to explain, critically, how protocols work together.

 

 

In addition, Comer has taught Internet principles, protocols, and architecture to thousands of engineers and IT staff. He also pioneered the use of tunneling, now widely used to send IP over a high-level protocol, and created an early network that supplied Internet connections years before the availability of ISPs (Internet Service Providers), the National Science Foundation backbone (NSFNET) and regional networks.

Professor Douglas Comer joined the faculty of the Department of Computer Science in the fall of 1976. Between 2003 and 2009, Comer was on leave from Purdue University and worked at Cisco Systems, where he served as Cisco's first VP of Research. Comer is a Fellow of the ACM and the recipient of numerous teaching awards.

Portions of this story originally appeared here.

Last Updated: Nov 7, 2019 5:19 PM

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