Vint Cerf is the recipient of the IEEE Medal of Honor “for cocreating the Internet architecture and providing sustained leadership in its phenomenal growth in becoming society’s critical infrastructure.” PETER ADAMS

It was June 1973. For the past three months, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn had been working together on a problem Kahn had been pondering for some time: how to connect ground-based military computers seamlessly to communications satellites and mobile radios.

The ARPANET and the way it handled communications was already well established. But extending it to handle multiple networks—whose reliability couldn’t be taken for granted—was a different story.

The two had been exchanging ideas in person and via email and reviewing the work of others who were trying to solve similar issues. But now, Cerf sat alone in the lobby of San Francisco’s Jack Tar Hotel, on a break from a computing conference. And the problem was on his mind.