by Darius Kazemi, Jan 10 2019

In 2019 I'm reading one RFC a day in chronological order starting from the very first one. More on this project here. There is a table of contents for all my RFC posts.

Shuffling the deck

RFC-10 explicitly revises RFC-3, which you may recall was our first attempt at defining what an RFC is. This is also titled “Documentation Conventions” and is once again authored by Steve Crocker, author of the first RFC. It was published July 29, 1969.

The technical content

The main updates to this are the who of RFCs: who is in the Network Working Group and who is on the distribution list.

The list of who the NWG “seems to” consist of (still using that awesome tentative language) has changed SRI's roster from Jeff Rulifson and Bill Duvall to Elmer Shapiro (author of RFC-4) and Bill English. Gerard Deloche is removed from the UCLA reps. John Haefner of RAND is added (I mentioned RAND in my RFC-1 writeup because they published a paper in 1962 on redundant communications networks). Paul Rovner and Jim Curry of Lincoln Labs are added.

The duty of assigning serial numbers for RFCs is now passed from Bill Duvall of SRI to Steve Crocker of UCLA.

RAND, SRI, SDC, and Lincoln Lab are added to the distribution list. (Remember in RFC-3 I was wondering why SRI was left off the distribution list? Well, that injustice is now rectified.)


The “SDC” added to the distribution list stands for System Development Corporation, considered the first dedicated computer software company in history. Based in Santa Monica, California, it was founded in 1955 as a RAND spinoff specifically to build software for the US military. SDC had a long-distance connected computer as early as 1965 talking to MIT's Lincoln Lab on the opposite coast. This wasn't packet-switched and was a 1:1 direct communication so it wasn't internet-like, but still, it's obviously impressive work and it makes complete sense why they'd be an early ARPANET participant. (The project lead on those early connected SDC/Lincoln computers was Lincoln Lab's Larry Roberts, who would eventually lead the entire ARPANET project.)

Further reading

A huge collection of System Development Corporation papers resides at the Charles Babbage Institute Archives at the University of Minnesota. They don't seem to be scanned for online browsing. I hope to make it out there to examine these myself.

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About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm a Mozilla Fellow and I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with both ActivityPub and the Dat Project.