by Darius Kazemi, August 27 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.

Combative about naming

RFC-239 is titled “Host Mnemonics Proposed in RFC #226”. It's authored by Bob Braden of UCLA and dated September 23, 1971.

The technical content

Well, we're back to the host name debate again. There have been enough of these that the RFC begins with a rare note inserted by the Network Information Center pointing the reader to previous correspondence on the issue! Host names are the subject of the following RFCs:

This RFC is a note that was not intended to be an RFC, sent from Bob Braden to Peggy Karp of MITRE. The NIC decided this was important enough to assign it an RFC number.

Braden's issue with Karp's list is that the mnemonics chosen are “historical accidents” that are “systems programmers' midnight decisions” that were made with little care. Braden suggests using the names that the NIC has been using, since they are the closest thing to a centralized authority on the ARPANET.

He also says that UCLA objects to the mnemonics that Karp suggests for their computers. Karp assigns “UCLA” to the Sigma 7 host and “UCLA36” to their IBM 360 Model 91. Braden suggests they be named “UCLAS7” and “UCLA91”.

Braden also thinks “SRIARC” should be known as “SRINIC” since “everybody calls it the NIC”.


This is a lot more combatively written than your standard RFC, I think because it was intended as private correspondence and then promoted to RFC status. Presumably this was done with Braden's consent.

How to follow this blog

You can subscribe to this blog's RSS feed or if you're on a federated ActivityPub social network like Mastodon or Pleroma you can search for the user “@365-rfcs@write.as” and follow it there.

About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm an independent technologist and artist. I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with ActivityPub, including a Node.js reference implementation, an RSS-to-ActivityPub converter, and a fork of Mastodon, called Hometown. You can support my work via my Patreon.