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Media Advisory 07-038

Early Internet Pioneers Meeting This Week to Celebrate NSFNET: "The Partnership that Changed the World"

Event will mark the 20th anniversary of the creation of the modern Internet.

NSFNET T1 Backbone and Regional Networks, 1991.

NSFNET T1 Backbone and Regional Networks, 1991.

November 29, 2007

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Many of the early researchers and scientists responsible for the development of the Internet as we know it today will come together in Northern Virginia this week. These Internet pioneers will take part in an event that marks the 20th anniversary of the initiative to upgrade NSFNET, a set of projects and networking activities that became the direct predecessor of today's Internet.

At the celebratory event, which takes place November 29-30 in Arlington, Va., participants will discuss NSFNET's history, celebrate its contributions, and consider the major impact the Internet has had on science, education, research and commerce.

NSFNET was launched in 1985 to support and promote networking in education and research in the United States. The NSFNET backbone network, launched as a nationwide 56 kbps network in 1985, grew to T1 and then T3 capacity by 1991, providing network access to thousands of universities and research facilities. In 1995, the NSFNET network was transitioned to become the basis of today's commercial Internet. Merit Network led the networking project that built the NSFNET backbone between 1987 and 1995, with partners IBM, MCI and Advanced Network and Services, Inc. and support from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Participants at the event will include John H. Marburger III, science advisor to the president, Arden Bement, director of the National Science Foundation, and Robert E. Kahn, co-developer of the TCP/IP protocols. Former Michigan Governor James J. Blanchard will also speak about the Michigan Strategic Fund's financial contribution to help manage the NSFNET backbone.

The NSFNET event will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. Registration is required. There will also be a webcast of the event, available to the public. The event begins the morning of Thursday, Nov. 29, with a formal program throughout the day and a gala reception and dinner following in the evening. The program resumes the morning of Friday, Nov. 30, and concludes that afternoon. The program includes speakers and panelists who directed the NSFNET program, did research and scholarship across the network, and built services and businesses in the resulting network economy. Sponsors of the event include Advanced Network & Services, Inc., Cisco Systems, IBM, Juniper Networks and the National Science Foundation, with organizational support from Merit Network and Internet2.

More information about the event and about the NSFNET is available at the Web site


Media Contacts
Dana W. Cruikshank, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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