It all began with a comic book! At the age of 6, Leonard Kleinrock was reading a Superman comic at his apartment in Manhattan, when, in the centerfold, he found plans for building a crystal radio… Kleinrock built the crystal radio and was totally hooked when ‘free’ music came through the earphones — no batteries, no power, all free! An engineer was born.
– Kleinrock, Leonard; The Birth of the Internet.
Leonard Kleinrock received his BEE degree from CCNY in 1957, then went to MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was a Ph.D. classmate of Lawrence Roberts. Kleinrock published his first paper on digital network communications, Information Flow in Large Communication Nets, in the RLE Quarterly Progress Report, in July, 1961. He developed his ideas further in his 1963 Ph.D. thesis, and then published a comprehensive analytical treatment of digital networks in his book Communication Nets in 1964.
After completing his thesis in 1962, Kleinrock moved to UCLA in Los Angeles, California, and later established the Network Measurement Center (NMC), led by himself and consisting of a group of graduate students working in the area of digital networks.
In 1966, Roberts joined the IPTO with a mandate to develop the ARPANET, and used Kleinrock’s Communication Nets to help convince his colleagues that a wide area digital communication network was possible. In October, 1968, Roberts gave a contract to Kleinrock’s NMC as the ideal group to perform ARPANET performance measurement and find areas for improvement.
On a historical day in early September, 1969, a team at Kleinrock’s NMC connected one of their SDS Sigma 7 computers to an Interface Message Processor, thereby becoming the first node on the ARPANET, and the first computer ever on the Internet.
As the ARPANET grew in the early 1970’s, Kleinrock’s group stressed the system to work out the detailed design and performance issues involved with the world’s first packet switched network, including routing, loading, deadlocks, and latency. The UCLA Netwatch program later performed similar functions to Kleinrock’s Network Management Center from the ARPANET years, until it was outsourced to other organizations in 2003.
Kleinrock has continued to be active in the research community, and has published more than 200 papers and authored six books. In August, 1989, he organized and chaired a symposium commemorating the 20’th anniversary of the ARPANET, which later produced the document RFC 1121, titled “Act One — The Poems”.
Kleinrock has also been active in federal policy making with the National Research Council’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) committee. He led the CSTB work in 1988 to lay out the framework for today’s Gigabit Internet networks, and led the CSTB committee which produced the influential 1994 report Realizing the Information Future; The Internet and Beyond.
Kleinrock was a cofounder of the original Linkabit, and founder and chairman of Nomadix and the Technology Transfer Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an IEEE fellow, and an ACM fellow. He is the recipient of the CCNY Townsend Harris Medal, the CCNY Electrical Engineering Award, the Marconi Award, the L.M. Ericsson Prize, the UCLA Outstanding Teacher Award, the Lanchester Prize, the ACM SIGCOMM Award, the Sigma Xi Monie Ferst Award, the INFORMS Presidents Award, and the IEEE Harry Goode Award. He shared the Charles Stark Draper Prize for 2001 with Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn, and Lawrence Roberts for their work on the ARPANET and Internet.