by Darius Kazemi, September 7 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.

Colliding ideas

RFC-250 is titled “Some Thoughts on File Transfer”. It's authored by Howard R. Brodie of UCLA and dated October 7, 1971.

The technical content

This RFC talks about some concerns the author has with RFC-171 and RFC-172, which respectively describe the Data Transfer Protocol and the File Transfer Protocol.

The concerns listed in this RFC are almost identical to Bob Braden's concerns in RFc-238, though the concern about sequence number is somewhat different than Braden's. Brodie is concerned that message sequence number in DTP is sometimes referenced as 8-bit and sometimes referenced as 16-bit.


Seeing as Brodie and Braden are both based at UCLA I wonder if they had a conversation about these topics and independently filed RFCs about the same topic. The dates are close enough together that Brodie might not have seen Braden's RFC until after he submitted this one.

Also, Brodie argues for an 8-bit sequence number as “sufficient” compared to a 16-bit sequence number. This makes me cringe as I can easily imagine a sequence of more than 256 messages making up some kind of large file transfer!

Further reading

The only reference I can find to Howard Brodie is in the acknolwedgements section of Bob Metcalfe's Harvard Ph.D. dissertation, “Packet Communication”. This dissertation represents a huge chunk of the work that more or less led him to invent Ethernet and co-invent TCP/IP with Vint Cerf.

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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 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.