Update: scans of early RFCs

by Darius Kazemi, Jan 23 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.

The Computer History Museum has just this month made the scans of RFCs 1 through 9 available! The listing is here, and here is a direct link to the PDF.

While the RFC Editor site has scans of many early RFCs, they do not host scans of numbers 1 through 7, and this is the first I'm aware of these being made available online for public viewing.

These first nine RFCs number 98 scanned pages!

The missing cover page of RFC-2

The canonical version of RFC-2 states that the original cover page was missing and so they didn't know its title. There is an erratum filed on it from years later pointing out that it was named in RFC-3 so we do actually know that it was called “Host Software”. Well everyone, let me present to you.... THE MISSING COVER PAGE OF RFC-2:


Typewriter art and hand diagrams

In my comments on RFC-1 I wondered if the typewriter art was an artifact of the transcription made in the 90s. Turns out, it was. Here is the normative version you can find online:

ASCII art blocks

Here is the original, along with a few other diagrams:

Some almost biological looking network diagrams.

There's something beautiful and almost biological about these drawings, presumably made by Steve Crocker. It looks like the kind of thing you see on the whiteboards at School for Poetic Computation!

This doesn't mean the early RFCs lack for typewriter art! Check out the art in RFC-2:

Some blocks and lines drawn with typewriter characters.

This is almost faithfully reproduced in the ASCII transcription from the 90s, but the original version is blockier and it's also got pen drawings overlaid on top to make the lines seem more like lines.

An interesting development for RFC-8

The hand written version of RFC-8 matches the version hosted on RFC Editor, with one important addition: there is also a full transcription provided by ARC! This is a contemporary transcription of a document that is really hard to read and would be a great source for an official, normative transcription of RFC-8 for the series (this is one of the only hand written RFCs that was not transcribed to machine readable text by the late 1990s).

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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.