by Darius Kazemi, April 28 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.

One hundred copies

RFC-118 is titled “Recommendations for Facility Documentation” and authored on April 16, 1971 by Richard Watson of SRI.

The technical content

This RFC describes the kind of information that people need in order to make a service available on the network. Broadly there are two categories of this information: system programming documentation for the people implementing the service, and user manual type documentation for the end users of the service.

For user manuals, the basic information will be made available by the site providing the service being used, but individual local sites will need to have a short manual on hand explaining any quirks that the remote service would have no way to know about. For example, if the local site uses a weird terminal that requires unusual keystrokes to send an interrupt, that should be documented locally.

The NIC asks any facility that intends to provide a service to the network to send to the NIC 100 copies of each manual and every subsequent manual update.


I think the main thing here is that there were only about a dozen sites connected to the network in April 1971, and the NIC is planning for up to 100 sites. Whether that is a plan for 100 physical facilities or 100 hosts is not something I can determine. ARPANET had approximately 100 hosts by March 1977, distributed across approximately 40 IMPs. No telling how many physical sites that correlated to but probably a number between 40 and 100. So this is a case of NIC planning for growth that would be at least six years out if not more.

Further reading

These maps of ARPANET at different times are pretty cool.

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About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm an independent technologist and artist. I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with both ActivityPub and the Dat Project. You can support my work via my Patreon.