I've posted it a little early because I'm excited but here is my reading and analysis of RFC-1, the very first official Request for Comments document and an important piece of internet history.


I'm doing one of these a day for a year. You can follow along at @365-rfcs. I'll only be posting the really noteworthy ones on this account.

RFC-5 was an early (eventually abandoned) proposal for delivering rich applications over ARPANET. Specifically it was conceived as a way to connect to Doug Englebart's "mother of all demos" computing system remotely from a more typical OS! My writeup:


You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

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RFC-7 led me down an unexpected computer history rabbit hole where I learned about GORDO, an operating system that was quickly renamed to... SEX. Yeah.


You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

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RFC-15 is an important one: it's the initial proposal for Telnet! The first version of this program was written in late 1969 and it's a tool that I still occasionally use today, which is really amazing when you think about it.


You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

Okay, RFC-20 is here! This is the RFC that says "we are going to use ASCII for communicating between computers". Read on to learn about what a character encoding even IS and why it still affects our day to day internet experience. It'll be a very%20fun%20read, I promise.


You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

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I contacted the Computer History Museum and paid them a small fee to have them scan the first 9 RFCs. I'm happy to say those scans are now online.

My post with interesting excerpts and things I learned looking at the scans: write.as/365-rfcs/update-scans

The listing of the scans in their catalog, with a link to the PDF: computerhistory.org/collection

You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

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Hello from the storage warehouse of the Computer History Museum, BTW.

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In my comments on RFC-32 I go on a digression about how much I love the 555 timer integrated circuit chip. Also, computer clock nerds, please check my work and make sure I did the right calculations and estimates. I'm not so fluent in this stuff.


You can follow along with my series commenting on the first 365 RFCs here @365-rfcs

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Okay, so: based on my research I believe that RFC-69, from September 1970, is literally the first example of an internet person doing a reply-all and saying "please unsubscribe me from your list".

This is, of course, nice.


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RFC-84 is an interesting one: the first RFC to categorize RFCs. This is authored by Jeanne North / Reddy Dively, who was one of the many women librarians who made the computer revolution possible. I write a little bit about her here. write.as/365-rfcs/rfc-84

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@darius @erroruser@example.com please please please don't use telnet today; well, at least in combination with anything I rely on

@charles I use telnet to log into literal VAX machines hosted at museums, cool your jets

@darius Really nice post! But isn't the link missing at "[mentioned in my RFC-1 post]()"?

A few mouths ago I worked for a company who use telnet for everything..... And I'm the only one who thing its was a bad idea....

@darius @365-rfcs I am thoroughly enjoying your 365 RFCs series. It’s so fun to be reminded that many of the early ones were essentially what we would do today with email messages. (so-and-so is being added… or here is the list of current people… or notes from a meeting, etc.)

Thank you for doing this project!

@danyork You're welcome! I'm enjoying it myself. I'm heading down to the Computer History Museum next week to inspect paper records of the first ~400 RFCs in person, including what I believe are some original typewritten docs of the first few.

@darius Wow! Have fun! (For admittedly a somewhat warped definition of “fun” for those outside this space. ;-) )

In the work I do with the Internet Society (my employer), I wind up interacting with Steve Crocker on various DNS / DNSSEC issues. It’s fun to see his name on so many of these early RFCs, because that of course was how he got started in all of this.

@darius Indeed! And now in his 70s he’s still going strong on various Internet-related projects.

@darius you were not kidding about the hand-drawn diagrams being great

@darius Interesting! Were the RFCs previously in some kind of online system (maybe NLS itself?) and then lost to the world of computation until now? Or were the original copies actually made of paper?

@kragen They were mostly typewritten and copied and mailed around. Some were hand written! They were transcribed into text form in the late 90s so before then they were indeed not online.

@darius Surely 10E7 is not a hex value, but equivalent to 10e+7 = 10*10^7 = 100 billion? Although “1 part per 100 billion” error sounds too good, then.

@ryantouk That would not be the correct accuracy for a relatively inexpensive crystal clock, yeah.

@darius WAIT 10e+7 is 100 million, not billion, which is now 1000x more feasible. Oops!

@ryantouk yup, still it means 1 ms of clock drift a day which seems... overly ambitious

@darius 10e7 seems likely to be scientific notation: e7 == 10^7.

@darius kinda ambiguous, so I would tend to look for what the authors used in other documents. If they used scientific notation a lot, then that tips it. (I love this project so much, btw!)

@darius I would really like to go back in time and tell that person that in nearly 50 years' time, someone will explain their unsubscribe request to the internet at large (which is a thing now), and will also make a sex joke about it.

@darius That's amazing. So the next question is, did that actually get distributed or did they just assign it a number and file it, later to be dug back out when they put them online?

@freakazoid It was copied and distributed. I've handled one of the originals personally.

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