Richard L. Adams, Jr. is the founder of UUnet Technologies, the first commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) and one of the largest Internet traffic carriers in the world in the 1990s. Among other things, Adams’ accomplishments at the helm of UUnet include the invention of Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP), technology that allows personal computers to connect to the Internet via modems. In the early 1980s, 3Com’s UNET Unix system could exchange TCP/IP traffic over serial lines. In 1984 Adams implemented this system on Berkeley Unix 4.2 and dubbed it SLIP. The SLIP protocol was documented in RFC 1055 The SLIP protocol was superseded in the early 1990s, by the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), which is still in use.
Rick Adams founded a nonprofit telecommunications company, UUNET Communications Service, to reduce the cost of mail and Usenet traffic sent by UUCP. (UUNET was founded with a $50,000 loan from the USENIX Association, which was subsequently repaid.) UUNET became an official gateway between UUCP mail and Internet email, as well as between North America and Europe. It hosted many related services, such as Internet FTP access for its UUCP clients and the comp.sources.unix archives.
Adams spun out a for-profit company, UUNET Technologies, which was the first ISP in the United States. The for-profit company bought the assets of the nonprofit, repaying it with a share of the profits over the years. The nonprofit has spent that money for many UNIX-related charitable causes over the years, such as supporting the Internet Software Consortium. The for-profit ISP became a multi-billion-dollar company and made an initial public offering in 1995. It was acquired by MFS (Metropolitan Fiber Systems, a wide-area optical-networking company), in 1996, which was subsequently acquired by Worldcom, which rose to challenge the largest telecommunications companies in America.
Adams co-authored the O’Reilly book !%@:: A Directory of Electronic Mail Addressing & Networks with his wife Donnalyn Frey. He is also co-author of RFC 1036, the Standard for Interchange of USENET Messages.
He obtained a master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University.