Cisco Systems, Inc., a multinational technology conglomerate, is a household name in the world of networking hardware and software. Known for its routers and switches that direct data, voice, and video traffic across networks around the world, Cisco has played a pivotal role in shaping the internet as we know it today. But who were the visionaries behind this tech giant? This article delves into the lives and contributions of the founders of Cisco: Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner.

Leonard Bosack: The Tech Whiz

Leonard Bosack, born in 1952 in Pennsylvania, was a computer scientist by profession. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and later pursued a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University. It was at Stanford where Bosack would make his mark. He was responsible for connecting all of Stanford’s computer networks, which were previously isolated from each other. This was a significant achievement, as it laid the groundwork for what would become the multi-protocol router – the cornerstone of Cisco’s early success.

Sandy Lerner: The Business Brain

Sandy Lerner, born in 1955, was a business-oriented individual with a knack for entrepreneurship. She graduated from California State University, Chico, with a degree in political science and later earned a master’s degree in econometrics from Stanford University. Lerner worked in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where she met Bosack. Together, they would go on to create something extraordinary.

The Birth of Cisco

In 1984, Bosack and Lerner co-founded Cisco Systems, Inc. The name “Cisco” was derived from the city name, San Francisco. Their aim was to commercialize the multi-protocol router that Bosack had developed at Stanford. This router was revolutionary as it allowed different computer networks to communicate with each other, a critical component in the development of the internet.

The Revolutionary Multi-Protocol Router

The multi-protocol router was a game-changer in the world of networking. Before its invention, networks used different protocols, making communication between them difficult. Bosack’s router could translate between different network protocols, effectively allowing them to “speak the same language”. This innovation was the key to Cisco’s early success and remains a fundamental part of modern internet infrastructure.

The Rise of Cisco

With their revolutionary product, Cisco quickly rose to prominence. The company went public in 1990, and by 1997, it was included in the Fortune 500 list. Today, Cisco is a global leader in IT, networking, and cybersecurity solutions. Its products and services are used by businesses of all sizes, governments, service providers, and consumers.

The Legacy of Bosack and Lerner

Despite their success, Bosack and Lerner’s journey with Cisco was not always smooth. They were forced to leave the company in 1990 due to a management dispute. However, their contributions to the tech world extend beyond their time at Cisco. After leaving Cisco, Bosack founded another networking company, XKL, which focuses on optical networking. Lerner, on the other hand, co-founded Urban Decay, a cosmetics company, and has been involved in various philanthropic activities.

In conclusion, Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, the founders of Cisco, were visionaries who revolutionized the world of networking. Their invention of the multi-protocol router paved the way for the development of the internet as we know it today. Despite their departure from the company, their legacy continues to influence the tech world. Their story serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators, reminding us that with the right blend of technical expertise and business acumen, one can truly change the world.


Alex likes to write about anything related to technology, marketing and gadgets. He sometimes reviews the latest tech and also writes on other blogs.