Susan Estrada: Thank you to the Internet Society for this won­der­ful hon­or today. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. In 1985 and 86, I installed a real­ly darn fast 56Kbps wide area net­work for the San Diego Supercomputer Center. Then after that, thanks to Dennis Jennings my fel­low pio­neer today, I was involved with installing the first NSF con­nec­tions between the cen­ters, that were a whop­ping one 1.5Mbps. And ven­dors told me at that time that nobody had that much data.

The nat­ur­al next step, in 1987, was to cre­ate an Internet ser­vice provider called the California Education and Research Federation Network, also known as CERFnet, because those darn peo­ple in the Netherlands took the real surf” from us in California. My team devel­oped a num­ber of notable firsts for the Internet, includ­ing the first deploy­ment of dial-up IP. (Sounds so 1982, does­n’t it?) Accounting reports for cus­tomers, and we were the first net­work to offer twenty-four hour, sev­en day a week mon­i­tor­ing of the net­work.

One of our ear­li­est com­mer­cial cus­tomers was a small start­up named Qualcomm. And we made some bold choic­es like pur­chas­ing equip­ment from anoth­er small start­up named Cisco and pro­vid­ed them with a big boost. We were 10% of their gross rev­enue for 1988, and they did­n’t know how to ful­fill our order. And work­ing with PSINet and UUnet, we formed the inter­con­nec­tion enabling the first com­mer­cial Internet traf­fic via the Commercial Internet Exchange, also known as the CIX. This accom­plish­ment, which seems so log­i­cal now, was a very rad­i­cal idea at the time and there was a lot of brick-throwing going on.

My team and I spent a lot of time as well devis­ing ways to broad­en the use of the Internet. We brought teach­ers and librar­i­ans online. We cre­at­ed Captain Internet, a female car­toon char­ac­ter, to human­ize the Internet and to encour­age reg­u­lar peo­ple to use the Internet.

Today I still spend time devis­ing strate­gies to get the under­served online. In par­tic­u­lar I’ve been work­ing to broad­en the use of Internet by old­er adults, those sixty-five and old­er, because the Internet is increas­ing­ly impor­tant to suc­cess­ful aging in its core ele­ments: social­iz­ing, learn­ing, and being able to con­tribute to the greater good.

I would also like to thank my hus­band Don, as well as my dig­i­tal native chil­dren Chris and Megan, who teach me every­day new and inter­est­ing ways to use the Internet, because it is the great col­lab­o­ra­to­ry. Working and col­lab­o­rat­ing togeth­er, we can con­tin­ue to make Captain Internet’s vision come true. Another vic­to­ry for truth, con­nect­ed­ness, and the Internet way. Thank you very much for this hon­or.


Help Support Open Transcripts

If you found this useful or interesting, please consider supporting the project monthly at Patreon or once via Square Cash, or even just sharing the link. Thanks.