OHI interview with Elizabeth J. Feinler
OHI project interviewed Elizabeth J. Feinler on 5th September 2019 in Menlo Park.
It was the second time that we interviewed Elizabeth J. Feinler. She is 88 years old and still drives herself. Although her driving skills of turning and reversing is not as good as what she used to have, it is still admirable that she has a quick reaction and clear mind at this age.
In last year’s interview, we focused on her wonderful personal life. This time, we paid more attention to key figures and events in her memory as one of the most important witnesses in the history of the Internet.
From 1972 to 1989, she served as Director of the Network Information Center (NIC) and witnessed the 17 years of Internet development at this role. NIC recorded every aspect of the Internet, such as in the 1970s, internet was just a project of the Department of Defense, in the 1980s it was transferred to the NSF, and after that the internet spread to the whole world. NIC was not only recorded all sort of information about the internet but also served as the customer service provider of the early network.
NIC was an essential information hub for Internet development during that time, which requires it to deal with various groups that related to the internet, such as internet pioneers, the DoD, the National Science Foundation, and the constantly expanding and changing internet users. Therefore, NIC grew to more than 40 staffs from its very beginning with only 2 staffs. No one has ever experienced and felt the development and changes of the Internet more than Elizabeth Feinler.
Elizabeth Feinler was supposed to be a chemist, but somehow chosen by the history, she eventually became a key Internet pioneer and induced into the Internet Hall of Fame by Internet Society (ISOC) in 2012.
As one of the few women who devoted her life into the development of the Internet, she also does her best to encourage and support more and more women to step into technology field.
The two-hour interview ended quickly and touched by her open-mindedness and generosity again. As one of the early witnesses, her memory is a precious treasure that worth excavate. We hope that she can maintain good health for the next talk.
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