Home News Visionary Technologist David Mills Passes at 85: A Legacy of Internet Innovation

Visionary Technologist David Mills Passes at 85: A Legacy of Internet Innovation

David Mills, a renowned figure in internet technology, passed away at 85, leaving an indelible mark on the digital world.

  • Key Highlights:
    • Inventor of the Network Time Protocol (NTP).
    • Pioneered internet and computer networking advancements.
    • Contributed significantly to TCP/IP development.
    • Held prestigious positions at the University of Delaware and the University of Maryland.
    • Inspired a new generation of technologists and innovators.

A Life Dedicated to Innovation

David Mills, born in 1938, embarked on a journey that would reshape the world of technology. Overcoming early challenges, including vision impairment and academic hurdles, Mills pursued a PhD in Computer and Communications Science from the University of Michigan in 1971. His career took him from the UK back to the US, where he eventually became a revered figure in the internet’s early development.

Technical Achievements and Contributions

Mills’ most notable contribution was the invention of the Network Time Protocol (NTP), a critical tool for time synchronization across computer networks. This technology revolutionized industries like finance and telecommunications and remains a cornerstone of internet functionality.

In addition to NTP, Mills was involved in the development of the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and wrote the first ever client for the FTP protocol. His innovative spirit also led to the development of Fuzzball routers, key in the formation of NSFNET, a precursor to the modern internet.

A Legacy of Mentorship and Recognition

Beyond his technical feats, Mills was a mentor and guide to many in the tech community. His approachable nature and willingness to share knowledge made him a beloved figure among colleagues and students. His contributions were recognized with numerous awards and accolades, including induction into the National Academy of Engineering and the IEEE Internet Award.

Remembering a Visionary

Mills’ passing on January 17, 2024, in Newark, Delaware, marks the end of an era. His work laid the groundwork for the internet as we know it, and his impact will resonate for generations. In remembering Mills, we celebrate not just his technical achievements but his spirit of collaboration and innovation that drove the digital revolution.


David Mills, who passed away at 85, leaves behind a legacy as a pioneer in internet technology. His contributions, notably the Network Time Protocol, have been fundamental to the functioning of the modern internet. Beyond his technical genius, Mills was a mentor and inspiration to many, remembered for his humility, wisdom, and enduring impact on technology and the people who build it.