David L. Mills, known as the internet’s “Father Time,” passed away recently at the age of 85.
A pioneer in internet technology, Mills was instrumental in developing and implementing the Network Time Protocol, which synchronized digital clocks across billions of devices worldwide.
Mills’ journey began in the 1960s as part of the team that created ARPANET, the precursor to the internet.
Recognizing the need for accurate communication between devices, he focused on time synchronization.
In 1985, he introduced the NTP, ensuring devices operated simultaneously to within a fraction of a millisecond.
The NTP operates through a hierarchical structure of servers, pinging from everyday servers to powerful ones linked to atomic clocks, ensuring precise time consensus.
Mills’ sophisticated algorithms corrected errors and were vital for networks with varying data speeds and delays.
Dr. Mills’ achievements stretched well beyond his work with time tracking.
Mills authored the fourth version of the internet protocol (IPv4) in 1978 and developed the first modern network router, contributing to the backbone of the modern internet.
Despite being born with glaucoma, Mills pursued a remarkable academic career, earning multiple degrees and pioneering computer science when the field was nascent.
His dedication to networking research led him to various institutions, including the University of Delaware, where he continued teaching and researching for three decades until his retirement.
Mills’ legacy lives on in the seamless functioning of the internet’s infrastructure, touching every aspect of modern life.
His work exemplifies the spirit of innovation and collaboration that continues to drive technological progress globally.