Akamai’s beginnings lie in a challenge posed by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in early 1995. The father of the web foresaw the congestion that was soon to become very familiar to Internet users, and he challenged colleagues at MIT to invent a fundamentally new and better way to deliver Internet content. What he may not have foreseen was that posing the problem in an academic setting would ultimately result in a commercial service that has revolutionized the Internet.
MIT Professor of Applied Mathematics Tom Leighton, who had an office down the hall from Dr. Berners-Lee, was intrigued by the challenge. Dr. Leighton, a renowned expert on parallel algorithms and architecture was head of the Algorithms Group at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science. Dr. Leighton recognized that a solution to web congestion could be found in applied mathematics and algorithms and he assembled a team of researchers to tackle the problem.
After obtaining his undergraduate degrees in computer science and mathematics from the Technion, Danny Lewin came to MIT in the Fall of 1996 to work with Dr. Leighton. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Lewin began making rapid and important progress on a variety of techniques for improving Internet performance. Working with the team, Dr. Leighton and Mr. Lewin developed the mathematical algorithms necessary to intelligently route and replicate content over a large network of distributed servers, technology that would ultimately solve what was becoming a frustrating problem for Internet users.