Will the real Internet inventors please stand up?

National Inventors Hall of Fame honors creators of Internet protocols, coaxial cable, Gore-Tex and more.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
Invent the Internet? Get famous.

Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn, co-designers of the protocols used to transmit traffic across the Internet, this week join the likes of Guglielmo Marconi and Thomas Edison in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

A ceremony for the creators of ubiquitous inventions ranging from the rotary printing press to contraceptive pills is set to take place Friday and Saturday at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation's self-named museum in Akron, Ohio.

"Any holder of a U.S. patent is eligible to qualify" for the distinction, even if the holder is not a U.S. citizen, according to foundation spokeswoman Rini Paiva. Though clearly, honoree qualifications went a lot further than holding one mere patent.

Under the auspices of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Kahn and Cerf developed code to enable one system of computers to exchange information with another at a remote location. The team's protocols for transmitting packets of information were originally used by the federal government to relay data between military networks. Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, better known as TCP/IP, now defines how the Internet functions.

Last year, the two so-called Internet fathers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, for their invention.

Cerf joined search giant Google in September to recruit talent and develop new Internet architectures for Web applications like Google Earth.

Kahn, meanwhile, leads the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), a nonprofit organization that, among other things, supports the development of Internet protocols and research of high-speed networking.

Also being honored this week are Herman Affel and Lloyd Espenschied, inventors of coaxial cable. Cable companies such as Comcast use the copper wire for high-volume data transmissions such as TV and broadband Internet service.

Rounding out this year's tech sector inductees are Ali Javan for the Helium-neon laser, which is used in UPC checkout scanners; and Willard Boyle and George Smith for the charged-couple device (CCD), which is used in digital cameras.

A database of all inductee profiles can be found at Invent Now.