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Richard (Rick) L. Adams, Jr. was an Internet pioneer and the founder of UUNET, which, in the mid and late 1990s, was the world's largest Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Adams was responsible for the first widely available Serial Line IP (SLIP) implementation and founding UUNET, thereby making the Internet widely accessible. In 1982 he ran the first international UUCP e-mail link at the machine seismo (owned by the Center for Seismic Studies in Northern Virginia), which evolved into the first (UUCP-based) UUNET. He maintained B News (at that time the most popular Usenet News transport).

In 1996, he donated one million dollars U.S. to the James Randi Educational Foundation to be used as the basis for its paranormal Million Dollar Challenge.[1]

Adams co-authored the O'Reilly book !%@:: A Directory of Electronic Mail Addressing & Networks with his wife Donnalyn Frey.[2] He is also co-author of RFC 1036, the Standard for Interchange of USENET Messages.

He currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife Donnalyn and their two sons.


Creation of SLIP

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The SLIP protocol was superseded in the early 1990s, by the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), which is still in use.

Founded UUNET

Rick Adams founded a nonprofit telecommunications company, UUNET Communications Service, to reduce the cost of mail and Usenet traffic sent by UUCP, particularly for rural sites in America. (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 left UUNET after transitioning leadership of the company to John Sidgmore in 1994. After leaving UUNET, Rick pursued opportunities as a partner in other ventures, including Cello and the 2941 restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia.


  1. ^ "The Demystifying Adventures of the Amazing Randi". Retrieved September 12 2009.  SF Weekly, August 24, 2009, online version, page 2: "One of his friends, Internet pioneer Rick Adams, put up $1 million in 1996."
  2. ^ Adams, Rick; Donnalyn Frey (January 1, 2001). !%@:: A Directory of Electronic Mail Addressing & Networks. O'Reilly & Associates. ISBN 0-937175-15-3.   }}

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