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Merit Network Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, an Internet pioneer and America’s longest-running regional research and education network, is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2016. To mark the milestone, Merit has launched a dynamic new web site (merit.edu) and will host a special celebration during its annual Merit Member Conference (MMC) on May 11, 2016.

Established in 1966, Merit has been at the forefront of networking technology throughout its history. Merit’s engineers created groundbreaking router technology and networking protocols to connect the mainframe systems at Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University. The pioneering computer network served as the foundation for what is now a statewide network in Michigan and sparked Merit’s mission of connecting organizations and building community. Merit continues to be guided by these principles as it looks to the future.

Hans-Werner Braun with Merit's first president Eric Aupperle

Hans-Werner Braun with Merit’s first president Eric Aupperle.

“Merit’s advanced networking foundation and its team’s spirit of innovation will help drive Michigan’s wonderful research, education and non-profit community forward for the next 50 years,” said Joseph Sawasky, Merit’s president and chief executive officer.

Merit served an instrumental role in a project that inspired the modern-day Internet. From 1987 until April 1995, Merit led a consortium to manage and re-engineer the NSFNET, the precursor to the commercial Internet and the first national high-speed network for research and education. The NSFNET connected 217 networks in July 1988 and expanded to over 50,000 by April 1995. The NSFNET backbone service connected universities, laboratories, and research centers across the country and was the major catalyst for the Internet and the explosion of computer networking around the world.

Read more about Merit’s 50 years of innovation

Make plans to attend Merit’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest. The event will be held following the first day of the Merit Member Conference (MMC).