Affectionately referred to as the "Mother of the Internet in Thailand" for her pioneering work, Professor Kanchana Kanchanasut of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) on 26 June 2013 was inducted into the global Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Prof. Kanchana Kanchanasut
Prof. Kanchana Kanchanasut was the first Thai person to introduce electronic mail and the Internet to Thailand and was actively involved in many Internet connectivity initiatives in other Southeast Asian countries, championing the idea of email, and later the Internet in the region in the 1980s.
Today she directs the Internet Education and Research Laboratory (intERLab) at AIT, where she is also acting vice president for research and professor of computer science at its School of Engineering and Technology.
Prof. Kanchana joins previous inductees such as Dr. Vint Cerf and Dr. Steve Crocker in the Pioneer Circle category, which recognizes individuals instrumental in the early design and development of the Internet.
The 32 new inductees were honored for their groundbreaking contributions to the global Internet, and comprise some of the world's most influential engineers, activists, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Tim Berners-Lee are notable previous Hall of Fame inductees.
In a press release, the Internet Society said: "The Internet Hall of Fame recognizes a select group of visionaries, leaders, and luminaries who have made significant contributions to the development and advancement of the global Internet. The Internet Hall of Fame celebrates Internet visionaries, innovators, and leaders from around the world who believed in the design and potential of an open Internet and, through their work, helped change the way we live and work today."
"This year's inductees represent a group of people as diverse and dynamic as the Internet itself," noted Internet Society President and CEO Lynn St. Amour. "As some of the world's leading thinkers, these individuals have pushed the boundaries of technological and social innovation to connect the world and make it a better place. Whether they were instrumental in the Internet's early design, expanding its global reach, or creating new innovations, we all benefit today from their dedication and foresight."
Details about the induction of Dr. Kanchana Kanchanasut are available at this link: http://www.internethalloffame.org/inductees/kanchana-kanchanasut
WHERE THE INTERNET IN THAILAND STARTED
Twenty-five years ago this June, Thailand was connected to the Internet for the first time through the efforts of the computer scientist and her colleagues based at AIT. Overall, she was also one of a small group of academics who were behind the emergence of the country's Internet network in the late 1980s.
In June 1988, Prof. Kanchana successfully registered the Internet top-level domain name ".TH" with the groundbreaking ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), the precursor of today's Internet. The move ushered the country into the world of the nascent communication network. For the first time, email addresses were possible for members of the academic community in Thailand through dial-up accounts to AIT through "ait.th".
Online connectivity in Thailand began at AIT when Prof. Kanchana received a Unix-based workstation that she used as a server to establish the Kingdom's first Internet connection, hooking up with colleagues at the University of Melbourne and the United States.
At about the same time that Prof. Kanchana received authorization from InterNic to oversee providing domain name registration services under ''.TH'', the server at AIT provided the first connection gateway out of Thailand. The main applications used on the network were email for academicians and file transfer protocol (FTP). The .TH top-level domain name was registered by AIT for an experimental network called Thai Computer Science Network (TCSnet).
Prof. Kanchana said she had regularly used email to communicate with classmates and professors as a computer science graduate student in Australia. On her return to Thailand, she found her country's lack of connection to be major drawback, and motivated her to make the Internet a reality.
But the breakthrough was not without professional risk. While still a junior lecturer, the mercurial young scholar hatched a plan to re-direct the then AIT president's personal telephone connection, the institute's sole direct line, to the new server. Unbeknownst to the president, Prof. Kanchana had convinced the campus telephone technician to switch over the telephone line to her daily from 3:30 pm to 7:30 am. For almost one year, she was quietly operating the top-level domain name after hours through her office, and connecting Thai academic colleagues online during the night.
"Establishing the Internet in Thailand required someone to take the risk to push it forward," she said.
Prof. Kanchana credits AIT's emphasis on international collaboration as the prime factor that forced Internet innovation in the late 1980s. "My international colleagues abroad required constant communication, so we really needed email at AIT." Coupled with AIT's supportive culture for experimentation in new technologies, the Pathuthani-based institute soon became the country's natural leader in Internet connectivity and advanced computer science training.
Owing to Prof. Kanchana's instrumental efforts, the Internet quickly flourished amongst Thai academicians until 1994, after which commercial Internet Service Providers (ISP) were born and provided the nation's general population with access to the Internet for the first time.
Read more about the Internet Hall of Fame: http://www.internethalloffame.org
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