PAUL BARAN Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


Biography » pioneers explorers inventors » paul baran


Name: Paul Baran                                                                       
Born: April 29, 1926                                                                   
Paul Baran (born April 29, 1926) was one of the three inventors of packet-switched     
networks, along with Donald Davies and Leonard Kleinrock. He was born in Grodno[1]     
(then Poland), but his family moved to Boston in 1928. Baran did undergraduate         
work at Drexel University, obtained his Masters degree in Engineering from UCLA       
in 1959 and began working for the RAND Corporation in the same year.                   
The development of a communication network that would withstand a nuclear attack       
was important to US defence strategy. Baran developed his ideas for a                 
distributed network as a solution to the problem of maintaining Command and           
Control of military resources in the event of a nuclear attack.                       
Similar ideas for a distributed data network were being independently pursued by       
Donald Davies from the National Physical Laboratory in the UK, although Davies         
was primarily concerned with the problem of resource-sharing rather than Baran's       
focus on military issues.                                                             
Baran also provided a spark of invention to four other important networking           
technologies. He was involved in the origin of the packet voice technology             
developed by StrataCom at its predecessor, Packet Technologies. This technology       
led to the first commercial pre-standard ATM product. He was also involved with       
the discrete multitone modem technology developed by Telebit, which was one of         
the roots of Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing which is used in DSL           
modems. Paul also founded Metricom, the first wireless Internet company which         
deployed the first public wireless mesh networking system and Com21 an early           
cable modem company. In all cases, he provided early ideas and gave credibility       
to strong groups of developers who then took those ideas far beyond Baran's           
original spark.                                                                       
Paul Baran also extended his work in packet switching to wireless-spectrum             
theory, developing what he called "kindergarten rules" for the use of wireless         
In addition to his innovation in networking products, he is also credited with         
inventing the metal detector used in airports.