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Cassidy: Internet pioneer Paul Baran gets richly deserved honor
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2008 17:40:49 -0400

I first met Paul at the RAND Corp in 1968 and from the time we met Paul became a friend and advisor. Paul taught me a lot during these years. I have been asked by Paul to be on the Advisory Board of several of his startups and always said yes so I could spend more time with him. When I get to California, we go off to the local Japanese eating place. A richly deserved honor.


Cassidy: Internet pioneer Paul Baran gets richly deserved honor

By Mike Cassidy
Mercury News
Article Launched: 09/25/2008 01:00:00 PM PDT

This is a column to brag about Paul Baran, because Lord knows he's not going to do it himself.

The guy is a brilliant innovator and a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He's on his way to the White House to be honored Monday for giving us some of the key building blocks of the Internet.

And what does Baran think about it all? What will it be like to have the president of the United States present him with a National Medal of Technology and Innovation?
"Beats the hell out of me,'' Baran says.

None of this is to say that Baran is too big to be bothered. It's more that he wishes others wouldn't bother with the fuss. Technology is a team sport, he says, with each innovator building on what others accomplished before him or her.

"Each of us does a little piece," Baran, 82, says. "I've done one thing. So then you get credit for doing the whole damn thing and that's not so." That's what makes Baran special. Talking to him in the kitchen of his Atherton ranch house, listening to his self-deprecating asides and seeing his eyes sparkle as he talks about the wonder of stumbling upon something new, it's clear he embodies the best of the spirit of Silicon Valley.

Forget the awards. Baran is a man with an abiding optimism who'd rather talk about how the Internet still has tremendous potential to change the world for the better. "He's very much of the old school,'' says Paul Saffo, a valley essayist, futurist and friend of Baran's. "You serve. You innovate. And you don't flash your toys to your friends. Frankly, the current generation of entrepreneurs could learn a thing or two from the culture of his generation.''


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