by Darius Kazemi, Jan 17 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.

Like email but slower

RFC-17 is by John E. Kreznar of Systems Development Corporation on Aug 27, 1969. I talk about that company in more detail in my post about RFC-10, but they were the first ever dedicated software company and did a lot of early experiments in modem communication.

This is technically RFC-17 and RFC-17a. Which is weeeeird. Basically the reason for this is, RFC-17 is some questions from Kreznar about the HOST-IMP interface, and RFC-17a is a response from Bob Kahn of BB&N, who would go on to co-invent TCP/IP with Vint Cerf.

Basically this is an email thread. But you know. Two months before the first modern computer network existed and two years before the invention of email.

Technical content

Kreznar asks four questions that boil down to the same question: have we considered certain failure modes for message transmission, particularly due to the fact that it could take a long time to hear back from a remote machine?

Kahn's answer is: yes we have, it's fine.


This is an early example of an internet person asking some questions and being told they are wrong by another internet person.

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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.