Mockapetris graduated from the prestigious Boston Latin School in 1966, received his bachelor's degrees in physics and electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971 and his doctorate in information and computer science from the University of California at Irvine in 1982.
In 1983, he proposed a Domain Name System architecture in RFC 882 and RFC 883. He had recognized the problem in the early Internet (then ARPAnet) of holding name to address translations in a single table on a single host, and instead proposed a distributed and dynamic DNS database: essentially DNS as it exists today.
Mockapetris is a fellow of the IEEE and the Association for Computing Machinery. He:
worked for several Internet-related companies: employee number two at @Home (1995–1997), Software.com (1997–1998) (now OpenWave), Fiberlane (now Cisco), Cerent/Siara (now Redback Networks) (1998–1999), Urban Media (1999–2001), and NU Domain (from 1999);
was Chief Scientist and Chairman of the Board of IP address infrastructure software provider Nominum (1999 to 2016).
is currently Chief Scientist at ThreatSTOP.
1997 John C. Dvorak Telecommunications Excellence Award "Personal Achievement - Network Engineering" for DNS design and implementation
2002 Distinguished Alumnus award from the University of California, Irvine
2005 ACM SIGCOMM Award for lifetime contribution to the field of communication networks in recognition of his foundational work in designing, developing and deploying the Domain Name System, and his sustained leadership in overall Internet architecture development
2006 ACM SIGCOMM Test of Time Paper Award for co-authoring paper "Development of the Domain Name System"