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John Cioffi

John Cioffi

‘The father of DSL’ | Internet Hall of Famer | Class of 1978

Long before he earned the moniker "the father of DSL," John Cioffi ('78) studied under the great M.E. ‘Mac’ Van Valkenburg.

No professor had a more profound impact on what Cioffi became — Marconi Prize winner, Internet Hall of Famer, recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’  Alexander Graham Bell Medal — than Van Valkenburg did.

“He took a strong interest in me as a student, employed me part time in his group as an undergraduate when I was in desperate need of money to stay in school, and eventually helped me on to Stanford," Cioffi says.

“He was a busy man, but woke early in the morning and often arrived at work around 7. I took advantage of his early hours to find him when most other students were sleeping.

"The story I remember best is me taking his graduate course when I was a junior. He found me after the first class and told me I must wait at least another year to take it, but I persisted in convincing him I should stay.

"I knew I was on notice and better work hard — five months and 500 out of 500 total points later, he told me no one had ever done that before. He had a very strong motivational effect on me.”