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Richard L Adams

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Richard L. Adams, Jr. is the founder of UUnet Technologies, the first commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) and one of the largest Internet traffic carriers in the world. Among other things, Adams's accomplishments at the helm of UUnet include the invention of Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP), technology that allows personal computers to connect to the Internet via modems.

With a master's degree in computer science from Purdue University, Adams launched his career as a programmer for San Diego, California-based Science Application International Corp. He left there in 1982 to accept a position as a data-gathering specialist with the Center for Seismic Studies, an outfit hired by the U.S. Department of Defense to develop technology for nuclear testing violation detection. It was there that Adams first encountered ARPAnet, precursor to the Internet. After hearing several individuals express their interest in using ARPAnet despite its high cost, Adams began toying with the idea of creating a nonprofit enterprise to offer moderately priced access to the fledgling network. He presented his plan to the Usenix Association, a Unix software users group to which he belonged, and secured $250,000 in funding.

In 1987 Adams formally established UUnet. Although the ISP initially offered services only to research institutes and universities, it wasn't long before Adams began expanding operations. The launch of AlterNet in 1990 marked UUnet's first foray into commercial service, as well as its conversion to a for-profit company. The firm's new focus on the corporate sector paid off a few years later when it landed the contract to carry Internet traffic for the Microsoft Network, beating out competitors like AT&T Corp. and MCI Communications Corp.

Adams took UUnet public in 1995, in one of the largest technology public offerings to date, and a year later agreed to a $2 billion buyout offer from MFS Communications, which was acquired by WorldCom shortly thereafter. Although he remained chairman and chief technology officer for a while, Adams eventually resigned and pursued other ventures.

As a subsidiary of WorldCom, UUnet remained one of the largest ISPs in the world. Its global pipe-line—more commonly referred to as an Internet "backbone"—carries more than 2,500 points of presence (areas with local phone line access) in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The firm also offers virtual private networks, World Wide Web hosting, security, and other e-commerce services to its roughly 70,000 corporate clients.


"Fortune Visits 25 Cool Companies." Fortune. July 10, 1995.

Swisher, Kara. "Anticipating the Internet: Good Timing, Good Deal-Making and Good Luck Turned Rick Adams' UUNet Into a Star." The Washington Post. May 6, 1996.

UUNET. "About UUNET." Ashburn, VA: UUNET, 2001.

"UUNet Technologies." Jobcircle. March 7, 2001. Available from

"Web Crawlers." Forbes. October 9, 2000.

"Web Masters." October 11, 1999. Available from

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6 months ago

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