Robert Elliot Khan or Bob Khan is not a household name but his contribution to technology is vast. He may not be as popular as Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates but his contribution allowed internet networking.
Khan was born in 1938 in Brooklyn, New York, USA to a Jewish family. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the City College of New York in 1960 and earned his MA and PhD in 1962 and 1964 respectively.
If Terminator were real, Bob Khan would be the guy that invented Skynet. While working for the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), he worked on the satellite packet network project, which he later demonstrated during the International Computer Communication Conference in 1972. This breakthrough paved the way for computer networking, in the context of military defense, and later in civil society. He worked for the IPTO as a Project Manager and as its Director. With Vint Cerf and his team, they were able to develop the technical protocol for the internet (TCP/IP or transmission control protocol / internet protocol).
He also designed the US military’s strategic computing initiative during Ronald Reagan’s term as president of the United States. Since leaving the IPTO in 1985, he has been serving as the Chairman, CEO, and President of Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), which he founded in 1986.
And he did not stop there. He also designed the architecture and the framework that is used in apps nowadays called the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). He is also one of the inventors of “Knowbot programs and mobile software agents in the network environment.”
His work and contributions have not gone unnoticed. He is the recipient of many awards. He has received the SIGCOMM Award in 1993, the National Medal of Technology in 1997, the Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering in 2001, the Prince of Asturias Award in 2002, the Digital ID World award in 2003, the A.M. Turing Award in 2004, the Townsend Harris Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the C&C Prize all in 2005, the Japan Prize in 2008, the Harold Pender Award in 2010, and the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering in 2013.
Not to mention his induction to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, as a fellow in the Computer History Museum, and as an honorary fellow of the Society for Technical Communication in 2006, and into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012.
With all his achievements and awards, his net worth is USD 2 million and maintains a quiet and private life, away from the spotlight and the media.