Lawrence Landweber

MS 1966, PhD 1967, Computer Science


"I am particularly proud of the role that I have played in the development of the Internet in the U.S. and internationally.The CSNET project, the goal of which was to build anInternet-based network for all U.S. academic, industry andgovernment computer research groups, provided a criticallink between the earlier research and the later commercialdevelopment of the Internet."

There are those who say they helped invent the Internet. Then there is Lawrence Landweber — who actually can make that claim. The John P. Morgridge Professor of Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Landweber laid the foundation what we know as the Internet today with the 1977 networking project, TheoryNet.In 1981, he proposed creation of the Computer Science Network, or CSNET, to link university computer science programs that weren’t part of Arpanet, a U.S.Defense Department network. In three years, CSNET was linking 180 universities globally, serving as the predecessor to NSFnet (the National Science Foundation network), which became the primary infrastructure for a larger “Internet.”

Indeed, without CSNET, the Internet might not been the technical choice for the later NSF project to connect universities and supercomputers or that network commercialization would have been based on Internet technology, he says. Fast-forward to today, and Landweber’s impact on the creation and proliferation of the Internet is as clear as ever. “The projects, workshops, conferences and collaborations that I led, organized or supported in the 1980s and 1990s played an important role in the spread of the Internet throughout the world,” he says. Or the role that Purdue played in setting the stage for the most significant chapter to date in cyber history. He met his eventual wife, Jean, during their first semester here. The Purdue of the mid-1960s also offered as many computer science faculty as graduate students, creating an ideal atmosphere of learning. His PhD thesis, under the mentorship of the late Purdue mathematics professor Julius Richard Büchi, introduced the idea of using games to solve problems in logic and other fields. “The opportunity to interact with the faculty provided for an amazing, intellectually stimulating environment. I spent many stimulating evenings at Professor Büchi’shome discussing our research.”


BS ’63, Mathematics, Brooklyn College

MS ’66, Computer Science, Purdue University

PhD ’67, Computer Science, Purdue University

Career highlights

2012 Inducted in first class of Internet Hall of Fame

2009 Honorary Doctor of Science and Commencement Speaker, Brooklyn College, CUNY

2009 ISOC Postel Service Award

2005 Board member, Computer Research Association

2005 Internet2 ACM Fellow

2005 IEEE Award for International Communication

1991 Founding board member and vice president (later president), Internet Society (ISOC)

1981-96 Leader in globalization of the Internet 

1981 Founded CSNET (Computer Science Network), the first “large-scale” Internet-based network

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