Working with Jon, Tribute delivered at UCLA, October 30, 1998
RFC - Informational
(November 1998; No errata)
||RFC Editor Note
RFC 2441 (Informational)
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Network Working Group D. Cohen
Request for Comments: 2441 Myricom
Category: Informational November 1998
Working with Jon
Tribute delivered at UCLA, October 30, 1998
Status of this Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does
not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this
memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998). All Rights Reserved.
In 1973, after doing interactive flight simulation over the ARPAnet,
I joined ISI and applied that experience to interactive speech over
The communication requirements for realtime speech were unique (more
like UDP than like TCP). This got me involved in the Network Working
Group, and I started another project at ISI called "Internet
In 1977 Steve Crocker, who was then at ISI, told me that Jon was
willing to join us, and that Jon will be a great addition to my
Internet Concepts project. Steve was right on both accounts.
Jon and I worked together from 1977 until 1993 when I left ISI.
According to ISI's management Jon worked for me for several years,
and I worked for him for several years. In reality we never worked
for each other (nor for ISI), we always worked together, to advance
the technology that we believed in. Over most of those 16 years we
had our offices together, and always worked with each other, even
when we worked on totally different projects.
Jon was always most pleasant to work with. He was most caring both
about the project, and about the individuals on the team. He was
always full of great intentions and humor. Jon was always ready for
mischiefs, one way or another. He was always game to hack something.
Cohen Informational [Page 1]
RFC 2441 Working with Jon November 1998
When I worked on the MOSIS project, in 1980, users submitted their
VLSI designs to us by e-mail. For several defense contractors,
getting access to the ARPAnet was too complex. We suggested that
they would use a commercial e-mail service, like TELEmail, instead.
Then we had the problem of getting all the e-mail systems to
interoperate, since none of them was willing to interoperate with the
others. Jon and I solved this problem during one long night of
hacking. This hack later became the mail-tunnel that provided the
service known as "InterMail", for passing e-mail between various
non-cooperating systems, including systems like MCImail and IEEE's
I'm sure that Jon was so enthusiastic to work with me on it for two
* Such interoperability among heterogeneous e-mail systems
was our religion, with no tolerance for separatism;
* We definitely were not supposed to do it.
Jon hated bureaucracy and silly rules, as Cary Thomas so well
described. Too bad that we lived in an environment with so many
We started Los-Nettos without lawyers and without formal contracts.
Handshakes were good enough. At that time several other regional
networks started around the country. Most of them were interested in
expansion, in glory, and in fortune. Jon was interested only in
getting the problem solved.
This was Jon's priority, both at work, and in his life.
I find it funny to read in the papers that Jon was the director of
IANA. Jon was IANA. Much more important, Jon was the corporate
memory of the Internet, and also the corporate style and the
technical taste of the Internet.
Jon was an authority without bureaucracy. No silly rules! Jon's
authority was not derived from any management structure. It was due
to his personality, his dedication, deep understanding, and demanding
technical taste and style.
Jon set the standards for both the Internet standards and for the
Internet standardization process. Jon turned the RFCs into a central
piece of the standardization process.
Cohen Informational [Page 2]
RFC 2441 Working with Jon November 1998
One can also read that Jon was the editor of the RFC, and may think
that Jon checked only the grammar or the format of the RFCs. Nothing
could be further from the truth, not that he did not check it, but in
addition, being the corporate memory, Jon had indicated many times to
authors that earlier work had treated the same subject, and that
their work would be improved by learning about that earlier work.
For the benefits of those in the audience who are either too young or
too old to remember let me recall some recent history:
The Internet protocols (mainly IP, TCP, UDP, FTP, Telnet, FTP, and
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