Paul Baran
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul Baran, whose work with packaging data in the 1960s has been credited with playing a role in the later development of the Internet, has died at age 84, his son said.

Baran died at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. Saturday night of complications from lung cancer, David Baran told the Associated Press Sunday night.

Paul Baran is best known for the idea of "packet-switching," in which data is bundled into small packages and sent through a network. Baran outlined the concept while working on Cold War issues for the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica in 1963 and 1964.

In 1969 the technology became a concept the Department of Defense used in creating the Arpanet, the precursor to the Internet, numerous reports on the subject said.

The idea had been so advanced at its development that private companies had passed on it.

"Paul wasn't afraid to go in directions counter to what everyone else thought was the right or only thing to do," Vinton Cerf, a vice president at Google and a colleague and longtime friend of Baran, told the New York Times, which first reported Baran's death.

President George W. Bush presented him with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2008. A year earlier, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, joining the likes of Thomas Edison.

He told the AP around the time that he was pleased there was such a hall.

"I think that we give a lot of attention to music and football, why not those who come up with ideas that we use in a different way," he said.

Baran's method of moving data was designed to still function after a nuclear attack. Because there were no centralized switches, and bundles of data could simply find a new route if one weren't working, the system could still work even if much of it were destroyed, the RAND Corporation said on its website.

He called the process "message blocks." Donald Davies of Great Britain independently developed a similar system and his term, "packet-switching," would eventually be adopted, RAND said.

It would be decades before the social and commercial possibilities of the technology would become clear, and Baran would miss out on a lot of the money and glory that came with it, but he was happy to live to see it happen, his son said in a telephone interview.

"He was a man of infinite patience," David Baran said.

The son said his father recently shared a paper that he wrote in 1966, speculating on the future of the computer networks he was working on.

"It spelled out this idea that by the year 2000 that people would be using online networks for shopping and news," he said. "It was an absolute lunatic fringe idea."

Paul Baran was born in Grodno, Poland in 1926 and his family moved to the United States when he was 2 years old, according to the RAND website. Baran received many accolades late in life for his pioneering work, but he was anxious to widely distribute the credit.

"The process of technological developments is like building a cathedral," he told the Times in a 1990 interview. "Over the course of several hundred years, new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations, each saying, I built a cathedral.... If you are not careful you can con yourself into believing that you did the most important part."

Baran's wife since 1955 Evelyn died in 2007. He is survived by his son, of Atherton, Calif., and three grandchildren.


Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press
Published in The Blade on Mar. 28, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
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20 entries
October 9, 2011
Paul Baran deserved all the accolades and tributes he received, and more; he has well been called "the father of the internet" His invention of the "packet switch" (work he engaged in for the Rand Corp.) , too long ignored and disbelieved by the civilian minds in the US pentagon, was certainly the key to that and to many of the military's communication problems..
I was a classmate of his in electrical engineering and graduated with him in June 1949 from Drexel; he was brilliant, and humble
F Ralph Shirak
August 23, 2011
What a wonderful tribute to a truly great visionary.
Edmund Perry
April 3, 2011
Thank you, Paul, for your grace and intellect, and for making quite a few of us live easier lives.
Michael Fagen
March 30, 2011
I am sure Mr Baran will be missed,But rest assure,The almighty God of comfort has something in store for our loved ones. 2Cor.1:3&4 Atlanta,Ga.
March 30, 2011
Mr. Baran will be missed by family and friends. Know that the "God of comfort" is with you to provide the strength you need to get thru your pain.(2 Cor.1:4)
Ann F
March 29, 2011
You deserved so much more for your thinking outside of the box. May you RIP
John Zechman
March 29, 2011
Dear Baran Family:
Sorry about your loss. Looking forward to the time when pain of death will be no more.
--Elaine Jones
March 29, 2011
Thanks Mr. Paul, for being that beacon of light; for today’s internet. may god bless you and your entire family.
bobby allen
March 29, 2011
My family and I are sorry to hear about the loss of your father and grandfather. Your memories of Paul will help you heal. He is in God's memory and Paul will hear his voice and wake up to a new world where he will be able to healthy and young once again. Job 33:25
T Fields
March 29, 2011
Paul, the little i heard about you told me so much. Selfless and enchanting you sound when you made this pronouncement, "The Internet is really the work of a thousand people".Little the world have had of your kind. You inspire we young folks to strive for excellence even when turned down. May your soul rest in perfect peace
Solomon Owoo
March 28, 2011
My deepest sympathy to Mr. Baran's family, know that his message blocks are something which have definitely helped the world and I am so glad that he got a chance to see his idea aid as the Arpanet (now Internet) began May Mr. Baran RIP what he developed will continue to assist in the enrichment of lives around the world.
March 28, 2011
I was a young software engineer at StratCom and remember above all Paul's gentleness. Generous with his time, he was a truly humble leader. He was genuinely concerned that employees develop themselves and certainly seemed more concerned about that than his equity. I will always remember him fondly.
Bruce McHenry
March 28, 2011
Deep condolences from a professional colleague and admirer.

I had the privilege of working with Paul on patent matters from the founding days of Packet Technologies and its successors, as well as 3Com, Metricom, and Com21.
Kenneth Allen
March 28, 2011
I am sad to hear of the passing of Mr.Paul Baran. His contributions to the world of Internet technology and his drive to make the impossible a possibility is a inspiration to me in my line of work with computers and the Internet. We have lost a great man.
Mitch Hansell
March 28, 2011
It was a pleasure to know Paul and work in his company. I was very saddened to hear that Paul passed on, my heart goes out to his family and coworkers.

Rod Carlson
March 28, 2011
To the the family of Paul Baran - May God give you peace and comfort through his word and the Lord Jesus Christ during this time of sorrow, I know that Paul will be missed by many.
R Golay
March 28, 2011
Thanks for your father's contributions to the world of internet technology. I hope you and your family receive comfort from cherished memories and the scripture found at Isaiah 57:15.
Dawn Palmer
March 28, 2011
My condolences to family and loved ones. May the God of all comfort be with you.
March 28, 2011
Thanks for everything. You are a hero for all internet users around the world. Take care and God Bless.
S G
March 28, 2011
Thank you for all of your contributions.See you when all those in the memorial tombs will come out to a world restored to it's original condition-Paradise.
Camille
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