Inventor of NTP protocol that keeps time on billions of devices dies at age 85

Enlarge / A photo of David L. Mills taken by David Woolley on April 27, 2005. (credit: David Woolley / Benj Edwards / Getty Images)

On Thursday, Internet pioneer Vint Cerf announced that Dr. David L. Mills, the inventor of Network Time Protocol (NTP), died peacefully at age 85 on January 17, 2024. The announcement came in a post on the Internet Society mailing list after Cerf was informed of David’s death by Mills’ daughter, Leigh.

“He was such an iconic element of the early Internet,” wrote Cerf.

Dr. Mills created the Network Time Protocol (NTP) in 1985 to address a crucial challenge in the online world: the synchronization of time across different computer systems and networks. In a digital environment where computers and servers are located all over the world, each with its own internal clock, there’s a significant need for a standardized and accurate timekeeping system.

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