Vinton Cerf was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1943. He received his B.A. in mathematics from Stanford University (1965) and his M.S. (1970) and Ph.D. (1972) from UCLA.
After graduation, Cerf became an assistant professor at Stanford University, where he co-developed the TCP/IP protocol suite with colleague Bob Kahn. This set of communication standards for data would become the backbone of the Internet.
From 1976 to 1982, Cerf was a program manager with the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he fostered development of Internet-related packet data and security technologies based on TCP/IP. In the late 1980s, when the Internet began a transition to the commercial sector, Cerf moved to MCI Communications, where he led development of the first commercial email system (MCI Mail) connected to the Internet.
In 1992, Cerf founded the Internet Society and served as its president for three years. He also served on the board of ICANN from 1999 to 2007. In 2005, Cerf became a vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google.
Among many awards, Cerf has won the U.S. National Medal of Technology (1997) and the ACM Turing Award (2004).