LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 2 March, 2010 – Cisco Systems co-founders Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner are the winners of the IEEE Computer Society’s 2009 Computer Entrepreneur Award, joining the ranks of a who’s who of technology leaders honored with the award over the past quarter-century.
Bosack and Lerner co-founded Cisco Systems in 1984, pioneering the widespread commercialization of wide area network (WAN) technology to connect geographically disparate computers over a multiprotocol router system. The company, which landed more than $200,000 in contracts during its first year, went public in 1990, and is now a networking equipment powerhouse with a market cap of more than $140 billion.
Before Bosack and Lerner left the company in 1990, it produced revolutionary technology such as the first true multi-protocol, multi-media Layer 3 device, and IGRP which enabled path redundancy. This technical foundation that the pair established still persists at Cisco and throughout the Internet today.
Bosack, now CEO of telecommunications engineering company XKL, is currently working on creating fiber optic systems that can achieve unprecedented data transmission latency speeds. Lerner now runs Ayrshire Farm, a certified organic and humane Virginia farm operation, restaurant, and butcher shop, and is involved in various philanthropic endeavors.
Among the previous winners of the Computer Society Entrepreneur Award are Hewlett-Packard co-founders William Hewlett and David Packard; Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen; Apple Computer co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; Dell Computer founder Michael Dell; Intel’s Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, and Andrew Grove; and Bjarne Stroustrup, the father of C++. In 2008, Edwin E. Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios; and Adobe co-founders John E. Warnock and Charles M. Geschke; received the award in recognition of their accomplishments.
The Computer Entrepreneur Award, established in 1982, is given to individuals whose entrepreneurial leadership is responsible for the growth of some segment of the computer industry. The efforts must have taken place more than 15 years previously, and the industry effects must be generally and openly visible.
Bosack held technical roles at AT&T Bell Labs and Digital Equipment Corp. upon graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. After earning a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University, he became director of computer facilities for the university’s computer science department. While at Stanford, Bosack, Lerner, and others at Stanford contributed to development of the Arpa Internet, overcoming incompatibility challenges to successfully link the university’s 5,000 computers across a 16-square-mile campus area.
After graduating from Stanford University with a master’s degree in statistics and computer science, Lerner worked as the director of computer facilities for Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and as director of networks systems and computer services at Schlumberger Computer Aided Systems Laboratory prior to founding Cisco.
After leaving Cisco, Lerner founded the cosmetics company Urban Decay. In 1992, she established the Centre for the Study of Early English Women's Writing and the Chawton House Library in Hampshire, England, donating her collection of women’s writing published before 1830. The library has become the pre-eminent center for the study of early women’s writings and has a degree-granting partnership with Southampton University.
Lerner has also worked with animal welfare and animal rights organizations, creating and improving animal shelter internetworking. She has been awarded four honorary PhD degrees and numerous awards for her charitable efforts.