Happy 40th anniversary RFC 791!

aka IPv4. The RFC doesn't have the exact date it was published, but the internet as we know it was being born. What a journey it's been.



For anyone unaware, Jon Postel, a good friend and mentor to many of us at the dawn of the Internet, was the primary editor of this landmark document.

Those were the days we thought ARPAnet would never be allowed to go commercial. Thanks to Jon’s tireless campaigning (among others), not to mention meticulous documentation, it did.

He was taken from us too soon.


RFC 791 and 793 are remarkably easy to read and follow what's going on. And that's not just hindsight speaking. We implemented both a few years later purely from the RFC's with no connection to anybody else and when we actually had kit that was connected to the Internet it just worked. One of the most remarkable things in my life was that I wrote debugger for the OS I wrote for the Lantronix terminal servers which I ended up remotely debugging in New Zealand. That was just mind blowing. Of course you'd call that a backdoor these days but they were very happy that I could figure out what was going on.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Jon, though I saw him at IETF meetings.


I still have a slew on Lantronix terminal servers :slight_smile:

-mel via cell

A few years back I was shocked to hear that the original OS that I wrote -- called whimsically Punix for Puny Unix -- which was used by Lantronix was still being sold. I mean, that's over 30 years ago. I doubt our IP and TCP drivers changed much in that time. One of the cute things I did was pump out most of the character IO in the null job so that it didn't have to do interrupt based IO for the most part, which kept the costs low (= no DMA silicon, cheaper processors).

It still amazes me that we built the internet basically without the internet. I came >.< close to driving up to ISI to attend an IETF meeting around 1987 or maybe 88 to complain about the shitty LPR interface on Unix and what could be done about it. I'm not sure whether it would have fallen on receptive ears, but I was totally naive about how new this all was.


Indeed. Also worth reading is Vint’s “I remember IANA” RFC <https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc2468> –
calling out Jon’s enormous contribution to our industry & honored by the ISOC service award bearing his name.