Happy 25th, TCP/IP

TCP/IP has marked 25 years since the ARPANET switchover

Believe it or not, it has been a mere 25 years since TCP/IP walked into our lives and changed them forever.

It was Jan. 1, 1983, when Internet precursor ARPANET switched over fully to TCP/IP. TCP/IP is so well-known that it's one of those acronyms we no longer spell out at Network World, but in honor of the date, we should address this underappreciated and taken-for-granted bit of engineering by its full name, Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol.

The occasion was largely missed by the mainstream press, but Google honored the anniversary last Tuesday with its logo - reproduced here - though you might easily have thought all that confetti was simply for the New Year. Blogger Philipp Lenssen writes that clicking on the "Google Doodle" logo led to a search result for the query "January 1 tcp/ip".

Apparently, sharp eyes also found an "easter egg" in the confetti in the Google logo, which apparently read "SYN SYN/ ACK ACK," according to Lenssen - an "inside joke" for the network geek set.

Work on the protocol actually began about a decade earlier than 1983, and several versions were hashed out before the ARPANET switchover. Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn were credited for the invention and were later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It all started with a simple yet extraordinarily powerful idea - to bring all networks together, to let communications happen across them, regardless of any differences among those networks. The eventual result, of course, is today's Internet - a vast sea of everything mankind has to communicate, from the highest-minded endeavors to the lowest grunting urges, washing across the world in a constant, tidal motion.

I think I just blew my own mind.

Happy anniversary, TCP/IP.

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Jeff Caruso

Network World
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