11.08.2005 - Vinton G. Cerf, the newest Calit2 Advisory Board member, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil award, in White House ceremonies tomorrow. The medal is awarded “to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
The 14 people being honored include Robert Kahn, Cerf’s co-developer of the TCP/IP protocols. For such work, the two together are widely considered to be the “fathers of the Internet.” According to the White House news release, “Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn designed the software code that is used to transmit data over the Internet. Dr. Cerf and Dr. Kahn have been at the forefront of a digital revolution that has transformed global commerce, communication, and entertainment.”
Other honorees include boxer Muhammad Ali, actress Carol Burnett, singer Aretha Franklin, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, entertainer Andy Griffith, radio personality Paul Harvey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, golfer Jack Nicklaus, and baseball player Frank Robinson.
The awards, not limited to U.S. citizens, will also honor Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan, for sheltering and saving some 1,000 people at the hotel he managed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. His heroic deeds have become the subject of a recent movie, Hotel Rwanda.
Just last month Cerf became vice president and “chief Internet evangelist” for Google where he is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies to support the development of advanced, Internet-based products and services from Google.
Formerly, Cerf served as senior vice president of Technology Strategy for MCI where he helped guide corporate strategy development from the technical perspective.
Cerf and Kahn last year received the 2004 A.M. Turing Award, which many consider to be the “Nobel Prize” of the computing field. In December 1997, President Clinton presented the U.S. National Medal of Technology to Cerf and Kahn for founding and developing the Internet.