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Paul Baran

2005 Fellow

For fundamental contributions to the architecture of the internet and for a lifetime of entrepreneurial activity.

Nothing can exist by itself. Every object in the universe is connected (by gravity/radiation vectors) to every other object in the universe. —Paul Baran


Paul Baran was born in Grodno, Poland, in 1926. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering from Drexel Institute of Technology (1949) and an M.S. in electrical engineering from UCLA (1959).

Baran began working with computers as a technician on the groundbreaking UNIVAC I (1951) computer system, the first commercially available computer in the United States. After working at Hughes Aircraft on radar systems for several years, he then joined the Rand Corporation in 1959, where he developed the concept of packet switching to make distributed networks survivable in the event of nuclear attack. While at Rand, he also wrote a 13-volume set of reports defining in detail an all-digital nationally distributed network for digital voice and data.

Baran's packet switching ideas served as a foundation upon which others later built the ARPANET, which, over time, evolved into the Internet.

In 1968, Baran left Rand to co-found the Institute for the Future, a not-for-profit research group specializing in long-range forecasting. In 1972, he started a number of for-profit companies based on technologies he developed, and continued founding companies until 2003.

Baran won the U.S. National Medal of Technology in 2007. He passed away in 2011.