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A Brief History of the Internet Advisory / Activities / Architecture Board

The origin of today’s IAB lies in the Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB), which was created in 1979 by Vint Cerf, at that time program manager at DARPA, to advise him on technical issues. The ICCB was chaired by David Clark, MIT.

In September 1984, after the ICCB meeting held at RSRE in Malvern, UK, the ICCB was disbanded and replaced by the Internet Advisory Board (IAB). This change was initiated by Dave Clark and Barry Leiner, who had taken over management of the Internet research program at DARPA. The IAB consisted of the chairs of the newly-formed research task forces and Jon Postel (ISI), as RFC editor and “protocol czar”. The first set of chairs of the task forces were the members of the ICCB. The IAB was chaired by Dave Clark.

In 1984, there were 10 Research Task Forces:

Task Forces and Chairs
Task force Chair
Gateway Algorithms Dave Mills, Linkabit
New End-to-End Service Bob Braden, UCLA
Applications Arch. and Requirements Bob Thomas, BBN
Privacy Steve Kent, BBN
Security Ray McFarland, DoD
Interoperability Rob Cole, UCL
Robustness and Survivability Jim Mathis, SRI
Autonomous Systems Dave Clark, MIT
Tactical Internetting Dave Hartman, MITRE
Testing and Evaluation Ed Cain, DCEC

In 1986 Dennis Perry, the program manager at DARPA, decided that DARPA should divide its efforts into the areas of Internet-related activities and distributed systems. The Internet area was to be coordinated through the Internet Activities Board, and the effort in distributed systems was coordinated through the “Distributed System Architecture Board” (DSAB), chaired by Doug Comer. Both the DSAB and the IAB used an organizational model where each member chaired a task force.

In May 1986, the IAB become the Internet Activities Board (RFC 985).

NSF also elected to support DARPA’s existing Internet organizational infrastructure, hierarchically arranged under the (then) Internet Activities Board (IAB). The public declaration of this choice was the joint authorship by the IAB’s Internet Engineering and Architecture Task Forces and by NSF’s Network Technical Advisory Group of RFC 985[May 1986] (Requirements for Internet Gateways), which formally ensured interoperability of DARPA’s and NSF’s pieces of the Internet [A Brief History of the Internet].

During August 25-27, 1986, the IAB held the first TCP/IP Vendors Workshop in Monterey, California, in cooperation with DARPA. This event later became Interop.

Later, the Privacy task force became Privacy and Security, while Gateway Algorithms became GADS (Gateway Algorithms and Data Structures), which in turn was split into Internet Architecture (INARCH) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The first IETF meeting took place in 1986, with Mike Corrigan (Defense Data Network (DDN)) as the first IETF chair, followed by Phill Gross starting at the fourth meeting. (Working groups were formed in the 5th meeting in 1987; working groups were divided into areas starting at the 15th meeting in 1989.)

The first IETF meeting started out as GADS and ended as INENG/INARCH when Mike Corrigan arrived from the IAB meeting. Mike Corrigan moved to OSD (Office of Secretary of Defense) on October 1, 1986 (the beginning of the fiscal year) and Phill Gross took over at that point. INENG was intended to be a group of operators and its early make up revolved around DOD, NASA, DOE and NSF and their contractors and researchers. Phill Gross was at Mitre under contract to DDN (working for the DDN technical director, Mike Corrigan, then others) when he became chair.

In January 1989, there were the following task forces:

Task Forces and Chairs
Task force Chair
Internet Engineering Phill Gross, CNRI
Internet Architecture Dave Mills, UDel
Autonomous Networks Deborah Estrin, USC
New End-to-End Services Bob Braden, UCLA
User Interface Keith Lantz, Olivetti Research
Privacy and Security Steve Kent, BBN
Scientific Requirements Barry Leiner, RIACS

The IAB and the task forces were supported by an inter-agency committee of the US government, the FRICC, later to be come the FNC (Federal Networking Comittee).

The next reorganization was planned in Annapolis, Maryland in the summer of 1989. DARPA and the Internet were changing, and the DSAB and IAB were reorganized. Applications and distributed computing were folded into the IAB charter. The Annapolis meeting also established the IESG and IRSG, both appointed by the IAB. Some of the task forces became working groups, others research groups in the IRSG. 

The 14th IETF meeting was held at Stanford University in July 1989. It marked a major change in the structure of the IETF universe. The IAB (then Internet Activities Board, now Internet Architecture Board), which until that time oversaw many “task forces,” changed its structure to leave only two: the IETF and the IRTF. The IRTF was tasked to consider long-term research problems in the Internet and a number of Task Forces were restructured as IRTF research groups. For example, the End-to-End Task Force became the IRTF’s End-to-End Research Group (E2E) and the Privacy & Security Task Force became the IRTF’s Privacy & Security Research Group (PSRG). The IETF also changed at that time. [RFC 3160]

After the Internet Society (ISOC) was formed in January, 1992, the IAB proposed to ISOC that the IAB’s activities should take place under the auspices of the Internet Society. During INET 1992 in Kobe, Japan [June], the ISOC trustees approved a new charter for the IAB to reflect the proposed relationship.” [RFC 3160]

As part of that reorganization, the Internet Activities Board was re-organized and re-named the Internet Architecture Board. The IESG and IETF assumed a larger and independent role in approving Internet standards.

During the last half of 1992, the relationship between the IAB and the IETF came under scrutiny through the first POISED Working Group which reallocated responsibilities for standards decision making and established the framework around which the current practices for populating IAB and IETF are conducted. The POISED Working Group presented its conclusions and recommendations to the Internet Society Board of Trustees in December 1992 and these were accepted as the working basis for the relationships among IAB, IESG, ISOC and IETF participants. Subsequently, RFC 1310 was prepared by the IETF in an attempt to codify these working principles [ RFC 2026 is the current version of this document, with further updates in RFC 3667RFC 3668 and RFC 3932]. [IETF and ISOC]


The information in this document was derived from:


Acknowledgement and thanks to Henning Schulzrinne, who edited the original version of this document.

Information used to assemble this document has been compiled and provided by Geoff Huston, Steve Deering, Brian Carpenter, Bob Braden, Allison Mankin, Michael St Johns, Henning Schulzrinne and Doug Comer.