Skip to main content
Icons of Progress

The Rise of the Internet

The team of engineers and project managers that worked on the NSFNET found themselves putting in long hours in the lab and the field. Though they knew they were working on a revolutionary communications tool, it’s likely that they couldn’t have imagined how thoroughly their innovations would change the world. With the full support of IBM and its partners, this team charted a course for the modern Internet.

  • Jack Drescher 

    Jack Drescher
    “We’d sit down and jointly work out an action plan—it was great teamwork”

    The leader of the IBM engineering team that included Jim Sheridan and Rick Ueberroth, Jack Drescher worked on-site at Merit offices in Ann Arbor. Drescher laid the groundwork for how IBM, MCI and Merit were going to begin online production of a nationwide backbone in just five months. Working with Walter Wiebe, Paul Bosco and Jordan Becker, the team also provided a roadmap for improving the network. Image courtesy of

  • Walter Wiebe 

    Walter Wiebe was the IBM Academic Information Systems senior networking manager. He was senior manager of the entire NSFNET program, including hardware, software, field support and network engineering.

  • Rick Boivie 

    Rick Boivie

    Rick Boivie is a Distinguished Engineer and manager of Advanced Internet and Security Technologies at IBM’s Watson Research Center. Boivie was the lead programmer, principal architect and manager of the IBM Academic Information Systems team in Milford, Connecticut. His team developed the routers that would run the Internet from 1988 to 1995.

  • Bob Mazza 

    Bob Mazza was a member of the IBM Academic Information Systems division, which led the NSFNET project for IBM. He was a key early supporter of the project; IBM was cutting costs, and NSFNET was a challenging sell. An IBMer for 50 years, Mazza holds advanced degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and Syracuse University, and also is a graduate of the University of Virginia – Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.

  • Harvey Fraser 

    Harvey Fraser

    IBMer Harvey Fraser took over for Jack Drescher in mid-1989, leading the implementation of the T1 backbone.

  • Ellen Hancock 

    Ellen Hancock was an IBMer for 29 years, rising to the position of senior vice president of Network Hardware and Software. Hancock ran the Networking Hardware division while NSFNET was being constructed, and was an important supporter of the project.