AIT’s Prof. Kanchana inducted into global Internet Hall of Fame


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:

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: www.internethalloffame.org