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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 08:50 GMT
Net pioneers receive top honour
Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn
Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn were among 14 people honoured
Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn have been awarded America's highest civilian honour.

The pair have been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with 12 other recipients in a ceremony at the White House.

The two men co-created the basic networking protocol, called TCP/IP, that keeps the net running to this day.

Politicians, generals, entertainers and astronauts have been awarded the honour in the past.

The medal is generally given to those that have made exceptional contributions to America's security, to world peace or had a significant impact on the cultural life of the nation through their efforts.

"All who receive the Medal of Freedom can know that they have a special place in the life of our country, and have earned the respect and affection of the American people," said President George W Bush as he presented the awards.

High praise

Mr Cerf and Mr Kahn were among the small group of engineers who worked to create the basic building blocks of what has become the internet.

"Dr Cerf and Dr Kahn have been at the forefront of a digital revolution that has transformed global commerce, communication, and entertainment," read the citation for the medal.

Muhammad Ali receiving his medal
Muhammad Ali
Carol Burnett
Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn
Robert Conquest
Aretha Franklin
Alan Greenspan
Andy Griffith
Paul Harvey
Sonny Montgomery
General Richard B. Myers
Jack Nicklaus
Frank Robinson
Paul Rusesabagina
The two protocols that the pair worked on and refined in the early 1970s made it possible to interconnect heterogeneous computer networks and thereby create the "network of networks" that the internet has now become.

Together the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP) ensure that packets of data reach the right net address and check that once data has arrived none of the information was lost during transmission.

These protocols also help to make any network built with them resistant to disruption as they can generally route around any damage to links between separate networks.

Also honoured with the medal in 2005 were Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Alan Greenspan, historian Robert Conquest and Paul Rusesabagina who sheltered people in his hotel during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

President Bush drew laughs by assuming a mock boxing posture when awarding Ali his medal.

"When you say, 'The Greatest of All Time' is in the room, everyone knows who you mean," said Mr Bush.

"It's quite a claim to make. But as Muhammad Ali once said, 'It's not bragging if you can back it up'."

Past recipients include Doris Day, Pope John Paul II and Edward Teller.

US President Harry Truman established the medal in 1945 and it was initially intended to recognise significant civilian contributions to the war effort. It was revived in 1963 by John F Kennedy as a reward for distinguished service to the American nation.

What the net did next
01 Jan 04 |  Technology
Google snaps up internet pioneer
09 Sep 05 |  Technology
Domain system creator honoured
01 Jun 05 |  Technology
Boxing fans remember the Thrilla
01 Oct 05 |  Ceefax Only
Getting the net off the ground
04 Mar 05 |  Click Online

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