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Pre-2016 Press Releases 8 September 2011

Happy birthday RFCs – 40th Anniversary of document series at heart of Internet standards process


On this day in 1969, 20 years before the birth of the World Wide Web, the first Request for Comments (RFC) document was published in the series that has documented Internet standards, practices, and technical history for the past four decades.

Steve Crocker, author of RFC 1. Photo by Joi Ito, 2007.
Writing in today’s New York Times, Steve Crocker – one of the founders of the Internet and the author of RFC 1 – pays tribute to the “humble documents [that] shape the Internet’s inner workings and have played a significant role in its success.”

Steve, who is also a former member of ISOC’s Board of Trustees, was one of a group of graduate students and University staff who realised the importance of documenting their work in networking a small group of research centres. Steve volunteered to organize the notes.

Those first plain notes, which preceded email, were paper documents, mailed to all participating groups. The electronic archive of the RFCs, managed and maintained by the RFC Editor, now contains more than 5,500 documents.

Steve’s excellent article, which helps preserve an important piece of Internet history, is available on the New York Times web site.

On a related note, here is an interview with Steve Crocker published in the IETF Journal in 2006 to mark the 20th anniversary of the IETF.

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