Crocker's First Ever Host-Host Protocol Specification

PDF Crocker (1970) Host-Host Protocol Document No. 1 (NIC5143)

Berlin, September 10, 2009: The availability of this document is due to a thread at the internet-history mailinglist which resulted in an off-list discussion with Steve Crocker, Dave Walden, Vint Cerf, Chris Edmondson-Yurkanan, Peter Salus, and – now we're drawing in – Elizabeth Feinler, Paula Jabloner, and Elizabeth Borchardt of the Computer History Museum (now in Mountain View, California). Eventually it was Elizabeth Borchardt who dug out this document from their "two garages" full of old reports including those of NIC. To quote from Elizabeth (Jake) Feinler's email:

And for those who are not aware of what happened to all the NIC stuff, let me bring you up to date. I retrieved everything I could from SRI when Engelbart left, when I left, and once the NIC project ended – a time span of 1968 to 1992. This amounted to more than 2 garages full of papers – both Engelbart's and my own. I donated these to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. Over many years since my retirement I have worked as a volunteer at the museum and am happy to report that we are almost finished sorting, identifying, organizing, and boxing the collection. It was all literally thrown on the floor twice. and I rescued much of it just before the janitors were about to cart it away as trash. Then there was the 89 earthquake. You get the idea.

What is so special about this document? The "Host-Host Protocol Document #1" (dated August 3, 1970; also refered to as NIC 5143) was an effort along the lines laid in RFC 53 (dated June 9, 1970) which tried to establish a protocol series that would have a slightly more formal feel to it than the then still very new RFC series. (In fact, NIC published Protocol Handbooks from 1970 to 1990, all of which are available at the Computer Museum.) It was, so to speak, the first "official" version of the protocol the NCPs at the host sites were to implement. Of course, the protocol specification changed quite a lot over time, and many early RFCs commented on "document #1". By early 1971, with RFC 107, "document #1" was officially obsolete. A July 1971 version of the host-host protocol ("Host-Host Protocol for the ARPA Network", NIC 7141) is available right here.