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40 Years of Internet RFCs

By Noah | April 7, 2009

Steve Crocker has a nice piece in yesterday’s New York Times reflecting on 40 years of Internet RFCs.  He completed the first RFC on April 6, 1969 in his friend’s bathroom, and distributed paper copies via snail mail.

Everyone was welcome to propose ideas, and if enough people liked it and used it, the design became a standard. […]  This was the ultimate in openness in technical design and that culture of open processes was essential in enabling the Internet to grow and evolve as spectacularly as it has.

Our loose, unnamed meetings grew larger and semi-organized into what we called the Network Working Group. In the four decades since, that group evolved and transformed a couple of times and is now the Internet Engineering Task Force. [link added…Noah] It has some hierarchy and formality but not much, and it remains free and accessible to anyone.

The R.F.C.’s have grown up, too. They really aren’t requests for comments anymore because they are published only after a lot of vetting. But the culture that was built up in the beginning has continued to play a strong role in keeping things more open than they might have been. Ideas are accepted and sorted on their merits, with as many ideas rejected by peers as are accepted.

The IETF is still one of the most open and one of the most effective standards organizations.

Topics: History of computing, Web, Internet, Computing | 1 Comment »

One Response to “40 Years of Internet RFCs”

  1. Stewart Engelman Domain Sales Says:
    August 1st, 2009 at 7:56 AM

    A worthwhile anniversary to recognize. While it’s true that much of the original (and current) blogging is rather mundane and unimportant, the blogging concept is the origin of some of the most important tools to businesses and consumers alike, such as KBS systems, business networking systems, electronic supply chain systems, niche based consumer feedback networks, online price comparison engines, etc. The list is almost endless.

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