Dr. David L. Mills, the inventor of the Network Time Protocol (NTP), has passed away aged 85.

He created NTP in 1985 to synchronize time across different computer systems and network, a critical step in the development of the modern Internet.

A cesium fountain clock

"He was such an iconic element of the early Internet," TCP/IP co-developer Vint Cerf said in a post on the Internet Society mailing list.

The protocol relies on satellites and atomic clocks to help maintain a coordinated time across different computers, servers, and systems across the world.

Having an agreed time is critical for networks to function, keeping network financial transaction timestamps accurate, among other functions.

Alongside NTP, Mills worked on the Internet Protocol, Telnet, and the File Transfer Protocol. He was involved in inventing the Fuzzball router, one of the first modern routers, and served as the first chairman of the Internet Architecture Task Force.

Mills was subject to a New Yorker profile that DCD recommends reading for more on his impact on the development of the Internet.