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. 

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