Announcing the Internet Society

by Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, Lyman Chapin, 1992


The purpose of this article is to provide a brief description of the Internet Society and its goals and objectives. It will function as a professional society to facilitate, support, and promote the evolution and growth of the Internet as a global research communications infrastructure. The suggestions and recommendations of all parties interested in the Internet are solicited to assist in making the Internet Society robust, productive, and structured to meet the needs of its members.

The Internet Society

The Internet is a collection of cooperating, interconnected, multi-protocol networks which supports international collaboration among thousands of organizations. Because of its current scope and rapid rate of growth, the Internet will benefit from a more organized framework to support its objectives. To this end, an Internet Society is being formed to foster the voluntary interconnection of computer networks into a global research and development communications and information infrastructure. The Internet Society will not operate the Internet. Internet operation will continue to be a collaborative activity which the Society will seek to facilitate. The Society will provide assistance and support to groups and organizations involved in the use, operation, and evolution of the Internet. It will provide support for forums in which technical and operational questions can be discussed and provide mechanisms through which interested parties can be informed and educated about the Internet, its function, use, operation, and the interests of its constituents.


The Internet Society will be a membership organization with voting individual members and non-voting institutional members. There will be several classes of institutional members. The society will produce a newsletter on a regular basis and hold an annual meeting to which all members and other interested parties will be invited. The topics of the annual meeting will vary, but are expected to focus on current research in networking, Internet functionality and growth, and other interests of the Society constituency. All members will receive the newsletter and an invitation to attend the annual meeting of the Internet Society. Membership dues will vary according to class of membership. The amounts of these dues and the basis on which they are set will be determined by the Board of Trustees of the Society and may be revised from time to time as set forth in the By-Laws.


The Society will be a non-profit organization and will be operated for international educational, charitable, and scientific purposes, among which are: To facilitate and support the technical evolution of the Internet as a research and education infrastructure and to stimulate involvement of the academic, scientific, and engineering communities (among others) in the evolution of the Internet. To educate the academic and scientific communities and the public concerning the technology, use, and application of the Internet. To promote scientific and educational applications of Internet technology for the benefit of educational institutions at all grade levels, industry, and the public at large. To provide a forum for exploration of new Internet applications and to foster collaboration among organizations in their operation and use of the Internet.

Support for Internet Technical Evolution

The Internet Activities Board (IAB) has been concerned with the development and evolution of architectures supporting the use of multiple protocols in a networked environment. The Internet Society will incorporate the IAB and its functions into the operation of the Internet Society. The Internet Society will work with other interested organizations to support and assist eforts to evolve the multiprotocol Internet. The Society will use the Internet Engineering and Research Task Forces to stimulate networking research and facilitate the evolution of the TCP/IP protocol suite and the integration of new protocol suites (e.g., OSI) into the Internet architecture. The Internet Society will work with parties and organizations interested in fostering improvement in the utility of the Internet for its constituent users.

Meetings and Conferences

The Internet Society will convene an annual meeting and will organize and facilitate workshops and symposia, jointly with other organizations where appropriate, on specific topics of interest to the Society membership. The annual meeting will address issues of global and regional importance to the evolution and growth of the Internet. In particular, future INET conferences will be incorporated into the Society’s annual meetings.

Information and Infrastructure Services

The Internet Society will publish an Internet Newsletter providing members with information about the international activities of Internet constituents. In addition, the Society will also provide assistance to and support for organizations responsible for maintaining the databases crucial to Internet function (e.g., the Domain Name System, X.500 Directory Services, etc.) and organizations concerned with the security of the Internet (e.g., the Software Engineering Institute Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and its CERT-System). The Society will assist in the development of educational, advisory, and informative materials of use to Society members. Where appropriate, the Society will organize or support activities which aid in the coordination among the organizations operating components of the Internet. The Society will refer members to appropriate parties involved in operating the various parts of the Internet where they may be helpful with specific questions. Where possible, the Society would seek to provide access to its information on-line, but would also offer hard copy and, perhaps eventually, CD-ROM-based information resources.


The initial organizers of the Internet Society include the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), EDUCOM, and the Internet Activities Board. During the six month period from June to December 1991, the initial organizers will work with interested parties to prepare for beginning operation of the Society by the end of 1991. Computer networking has become a critical infrastructure for the research and development community and has the potential to become the basis for world-wide collaboration and cooperation in every field of human endeavor. The Internet Society will seek to solidify, enhance and encourage further international collaborative networking. Visionary individuals joining the Society during its formation will receive special recognition as Society pioneers and will have the opportunity to shape the early agenda of Society activities. Opportunities for organizational and institutional participation are also available. It is time. The technology is available. A global renaissance of scientific and technical cooperation is at hand. You are cordially invited to take part in an enterprise without precedent and an adventure without boundary. The Internet Society sets sail in January of 1992 on a voyage of internetwork discovery. Will you be aboard?

Read ‘An Oral History of the Internet Society’s Founding’