At the crack of dawn of my 21st birthday, I was sitting in a dark basement lab, working with researchers at the University College in London and BBN in Boston. We all knew we were working on something important. Little did we know, however, that the software we were developing would become the cornerstone of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Later that day, after a birthday lunch, I attended a computer communications seminar taught by Bob Metcalfe, a researcher at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), one of the country’s premier research labs. Bob's networking scheme, called Ethernet, is now used in computer networks throughout the world.
To most people, getting up before dawn to test trans-Atlantic data transmission and then attending a computer science seminar may sound like a boring way to spend one's 21st birthday. But to me, being involved in the creation of something so new and significant was exciting and fun. The professors and researchers that I encountered at UCLA and Stanford inspired me to pursue a career of innovation. After graduating from Stanford in 1976, I spent 25 years as one of the leaders in the creation and growth of the computer networking industry. In 1998, when I became CTO at Cisco, the benefits of the Internet were finally available to a broad base of consumers.
My life and career benefited from an environment of thriving innovation. I was fortunate to be born at a time when the nation understood the importance of science, technology and innovation, and encouraged taking risks. I'm convinced that my son's generation will not have the same opportunities that I enjoyed, as the country has become increasingly focused on short-term gains. This book was born from my need to try and do something about this shift.
Chief Executive Officer
Judy Estrin is CEO of JLABS, LLC , formerly known as Packet Design Management Company, LLC. She is the author of Closing the Innovation Gap, published in September, 2008. Prior to co-founding Packet Design, in May 2000, Estrin was chief technology officer for Cisco Systems. Beginning in 1981 Estrin co-founded three other successful technology companies: Bridge Communications, Network Computing Devices, and Precept Software. In 1998 Cisco Systems acquired Precept, and she became Cisco's chief technology officer until April 2000.
Estrin has been named three times to Fortune Magazine's list of the 50 most powerful women in American business. She is Chairman of EvntLive, Inc., and sits on the boards of directors of The Walt Disney Company as well as privately held Packet Design, Inc. She also served as a member of the board of FedEx Corporation from 1989 until 2010, Sun Microsystems from 1995 through 2003 and Rockwell Corporation from 1994 through 1998. In addition, she sits on the advisory councils of Stanford's School of Engineering and Stanford's Bio‐X initiative. She holds a B.S. degree in math and computer science from UCLA, and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford University.