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

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

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

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


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

@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 great read.

my arduino loses dozens of seconds per day so 1ms seems crazy for 1970. so i was googling around for this odd accuracy thing and i think it's not a percentage of error per day but the frequency error. but then i'm not sure how to interpret this either. found this ham radio blog using the same terminology febo.com/pages/stability/

@oberhamsi @darius Commercially-available TXCOs could do +/-5 pp 10^7 stability over a very wide temperature range at that point. That was available by the mid- to late-sixties. 1 pp 10^7 for an indoor stationary mount wouldn't have been out of the realm of normal.

@jond @oberhamsi @darius Yeah, I find that believable, after some research. If not a TCXO, then an OCXO for sure. Though I am not sure what can be considered "low cost" at the time.

I am also of the opinion that the 10E7 thing is a typo, and it is indeed meant to be 1E7, since 10E7 is neither normalized nor is the exponent aligned to a multiple of 3. I have personally made typos like that.

@jond @oberhamsi @darius Also, sorry for the lingo.

TCXO = Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator
OCXO = Oven Controlled Crystal Oscillator

@dratini0 @jond @oberhamsi @darius I thought that was strange too. Would have expected 1E8 or 100E6.

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