Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler


Internet Pioneer

Inducted in 2018

Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler joined Stanford Research Institute (SRI International) in 1960 as an information scientist heading up the Information Research Department, later becoming a member of Dr. Douglas Engelbart's Augmentation Research Center where she began her work on the Internet. She pioneered and managed first the ARPNET, and then the Defense Data Network (DDN) network information centers (NIC) under contract to the Department of Defense (DoD). Both of these early networks were the forerunners of today's Internet.

While serving as Principal Investigator for the NIC project and Director for the Network Information Systems Center at SRI, Ms. Feinler's group developed the first Internet "yellow-" and "white-page" servers as well as the first query-based network host name and address (WHOIS) server. Her group also managed the Host Naming Registry for the Internet, developing the top-level domain-naming scheme of .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .org, and .net, which are still in use today. The NIC also researched and managed parts of the first Internet audit trail and billing system for the DDN, and developed an early model for today's email systems.

After leaving SRI, Ms. Feinler worked as a contractor for NASA Ames Research Center, helping to bring networking to the large NSF and NASA telescope sites. She also was active in setting up the NASA Science Internet and Globe NICs, and assisted with guidelines for developing and managing the NASA World Wide Web. She was appointed Delegate at Large to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Centers; has been a member of ASIS and IEEE, and was a founding member of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF); past chair of the IFIP Working Group 6.5 on User Requirements for Electronic Mail; and founder of the USING Working Group, which later became the IETF Users Working Group. She was inducted into the SRI Alumni Hall of Fame in 2000, and into the Internet Society Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2013 she received the IETF Jonathan B. Postel Service Award.

Since retiring, Ms. Feinler has been active as a volunteer for the Computer History Museum, where she compiled, with John Vittal, a timeline for development of electronic mail; and donated, organized, and wrote a finding aid for 350+ boxes of archives from the Engelbart and NIC projects. She takes pride in her work to save for future generations the history of what has turned out to be one of the greatest inventions of the modern world: the Internet.