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Standards Organizations and RFCs

Several organizations have been instrumental in the development of TCP/IP and the Internet. Another way in which TCP/IP reveals its military roots is in the quantity and obscurity of its acronyms. Still, a few organizations in the past and present of TCP/IP deserve mention, as follows:

  • Internet Advisory Board (IAB)— The governing board that sets policy for the Internet and sees to the further development of TCP/IP standards.

  • Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)— The branch of the IAB that studies and rules on engineering issues. The IETF is divided into workgroups that study particular aspects of TCP/IP and the Internet, such as applications, routing, network management, and so forth.

  • Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)— The branch of the IAB that sponsors long-range research.

  • Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)— An organization established in 1998 that coordinates the assignment of Internet domain names, IP addresses, and globally unique protocol parameters such as port numbers (

  • InterNIC— The Internet information service. InterNIC keeps a list of ICANN-accredited registration organizations that can assign domain names. Contact InterNIC through the World Wide Web at

Most of the official documentation on TCP/IP is available through a series of Requests for Comment (RFCs). The library of RFCs includes Internet standards and reports from workgroups. IETF official specifications are published as RFCs. Many RFCs are intended to illuminate some aspect of TCP/IP or the Internet. Anyone can submit an RFC for review. You can either send a proposed RFC to the IETF or you can submit it directly to the RFC editor via email at

The RFCs provide essential technical background for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of TCP/IP. The list includes several technical papers on protocols, utilities, and services, as well as a few TCP/IP-related poems and Shakespeare takeoffs that, sadly, do not match the clarity and economy of TCP/IP.

You can find the RFCs at several places on the Internet. Try A few representative RFCs are shown in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2. Representative Examples of the 2,000+ Internet RFCs




Internet Protocol (IP)


Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP)


Transmission Control Protocol


File Transfer Protocol


Twas the Night Before Start-up


TCP/IP Tutorial


Proposed Standard for Transmission of Datagrams over FDDI Networks


Address Allocation for Private Internets


The PPP NetBIOS Frames Control Protocol


Internet Official Protocol Standards 2/24/97

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