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Vinton Cerf

Jon Postel

The TCP/IP Protocol
TCP/IP was deployed in the ARPANET network with some persuasion. Not all sites were preparing to convert over their protocols, so Vinton Cerf, Jon Postel, and the TCP/IP team turned off the NCP network channel numbers on the ARPANET IMP's for a full day in mid 1982, so that only sites using TCP/IP could still operate. To emphasize the point, they disabled NCP again for two days later that fall. The full switchover was performed on January 1, 1983, without too many problems, although a few recalcitrant sites were down as long as three months while they retrofitted their systems.

In 1994, the US Department of Defense made TCP/IP the standard for all military computer networking, which gave it a high profile and stable funding. In 1985, Dan Lynch and the Internet Architecture Board held a three day workshop on TCP/IP for the computer industry, which was attended by about 50 researchers and 250 vendor representatives. This meeting helped popularize knowledge of TCP/IP in the computer industry, and triggered the development of several TCP/IP networking products by different companies, starting the protocol on its way to become a commercial standard.

In September, 1988, Lynch organized an Internet convention that later became the Interop trade show. Fifty companies were invited to the first show to demonstrate interoperation of their TCP/IP packages, and five thousand engineers attended. The interoperability demonstration was successful, validating the network's open design and showing that the standard could become a multi-vendor product. The Interop show grew tremendously over the next twelve years, held annually in a new location around the world.

TCP/IP, originally built for low-reliability wireless packet radio networks, is now the most reliable and widely deployed network in the world. The IPv4 version developed in the 1970's remains the standard protocol in use today.

With the rapid growth of the Internet through the 1990's, there was a rapid reduction in the number of free IP addresses available under IPv4, which was never designed to scale to these levels. In order to get more addresses, you need more bits, which means a longer IP address, which means a new architecture, which means changes to all of the routing software. In other words, a major change on which everyone needs to agree, and does not come about quickly.

After examining a number of proposals, the IETF settled on IPv6, recommended in January 1995 in RFC 1752, sometimes also referred to as the Next Generation Internet Protocol, or IPng. Since then, a number of organizations, such as the IPv6 Forum, have been working towards its widespread implementation.

By 2004, IPv6 was widely available from industry and supported by most new network equipment. Practical feedback began to be being received from experience with integration with existing networks.

  • Read the complete history at Living Internet.