Paul Baran

Paul Baran
BornTemplate:Birth date
DiedMarch 26, 2011(2011-03-26) (aged 84)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUCLA, Drexel Institute of Technology, Philadelphia
Known forPacket Switching
Spouse(s)Evelyn Murphy Baran, PhD
AwardsIEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal, National Medal of Technology and Innovation, National Inventors Hall of Fame
Scientific career
InstitutionsRAND Corporation
Template:Wikidata image

Paul Baran (1926–2011) was an American engineer. He was one of the first people to work in developing computer networks. He invented packet switching networks. Later, he started several companies that made important parts of the Internet and other modern digital communication.

Paul Baran was born in Grodno, Poland (which is now in Belarus) on April 29, 1926.[1] His family moved to the United States in 1928.[2] He graduated from Drexel University in 1949 with a degree in electrical engineering. He did technical work on the first commercial computers in the United States.[3] He got a Masters degree in engineering from UCLA. His thesis was on character recognition.[1]

In 1959, Baran joined RAND Corporation. He designed a "survivable" communications system that could keep working across long distances even if hit by nuclear weapons.[4] Baran proved that by dividing communication into short packages, the packages could be easily rerouted when a part of the network was lost. Special computers (called "routers") would steer the packages around the network toward their final destinations.[5] This later became the basic design of the internet.

In 1968, Baran was a founder of the Institute for the Future, and then involved in other networking technologies developed in Silicon Valley. He founded a number of high technology companies.

Baran died in Palo Alto, California at the age of 84 on March 26, 2011,[1][6] from lung cancer.

Awards and honors


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Katie Hafner (March 27, 2011). "Paul Baran, Internet Pioneer, Dies at 84". The New York Times.
  2. David Ira Snyder (August 4, 2009). "Morris "Moshe" Baran (1884 - 1979)". Genealogy of the Baran family. web site. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Paul Baran - Franklin Laureate Database". The Franklin Institute Awards - Laureate Database. Philadelphia, PA: The Franklin Institute. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  4. "Internet pioneer Paul Baran passes away". BBC News. March 28, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
  5. Paul Baran (1962). "On Distributed Communications Networks". RAND Corporation papers, document P-2626. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  6. "Packet switching inventor Paul Baran dies aged 84". ZDNet UK. March 29, 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  7. "IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. p. 2. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  8. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  9. "The National Medal of Technology and Innovation 2007 Laureates". The United States Patent and Trademark Office. January 7, 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  10. "In Memoriam: Paul Baran MS '59". UCLA Engineering web site. Retrieved March 28, 2011.

Other websites

  • "Paul Baran Invents Packet Switching". William Stewart. January 17, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2011. External link in |work= (help)
  • O'Neill, Judy E. (March 5, 1990). "Oral history interview with Paul Baran". CBI's Collections > Oral history database. Minneapolis, MN: Charles Babbage Institute. Retrieved March 31, 2011. External link in |work= (help) A paper in which Baran talks about working at RAND, how he became interested in survivable communications, the evolution of his plan for distributed networks, the objections he received, and the writing and distribution of his eleven-volume work, On Distributed Communications. Baran discusses his work with the group at ARPA who later developed ARPANET.
  • Ryan, Patrick S. (June 1, 2005). "SSRN-Wireless Communications and Computing at a Crossroads: New Paradigms and Their Impact on Theories Governing the Public's Right to Spectrum Access" (PDF). Journal on Telecommunications & High Technology Law (Boulder, CO: University of Colorado, Boulder. School of Law; Silicon Flatirons Telecommunications Program) 3 (2): 239–274. ISSN 1543-8899. OCLC 66137086. Retrieved March 31, 2011.  This describes Paul Baran's development of packet switching and its application to wireless computing.
  • "Convergence: Past, Present, and Future: Paul Baran Addresses CableLabs® Winter Conference". Louisville, CO: Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. February 1999. Retrieved March 31, 2011. A copy of Baran's keynote address at the Countdown to Technology 2000 Winter Conference that includes a photo.
  • Brown, Bob (March 27, 2011). "Paul Baran, Internet and packet switching pioneer, is mourned". Framingham, MA: Network World, Inc. Retrieved April 2, 2011. Baran credited with inventing packet switching in 1960s against military backdrop
  • "Paul Baran". Internet Pioneers at Chapel Hill, NC: School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. November 6, 2005. Retrieved April 2, 2011. External link in |publisher=, |work= (help)
  • Gilder, George (June 2, 1997). "Inventing the Internet Again". Forbes ASAP (New York: Forbes) 159 (11): 106–120. ISSN 1078-9901. OCLC 173437996. Archived from the original on April 10, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2011.