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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols, Services and Applications (OSI Layers 5, 6 and 7)
      9  Name Systems and TCP/IP Name Registration and Name Resolution
           9  TCP/IP Name Systems: Host Tables and Domain Name System (DNS)

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Overview and History of TCP/IP Host Names and Name Systems
(Page 2 of 2)

Storing Host Names in a Host Table File

The first improvement was to make the list of host name assignments a standard “master” text file that would be centrally managed and could be downloaded using network protocols like FTP. The file was maintained at the Network Information Center (NIC) at Stanford University. The process for defining and using this file was described in RFCs 606 and 608, both entitled Host Names On-line, published in December 1973 and January 1974 respectively. These documents also formally specified the syntax for the TCP/IP host table name system.

The use of a centrally-managed host table continued through the 1970s. When TCP/IP was developed the system was maintained, and mappings made between host names and 32-bit IP addresses. RFC 810, DoD Internet Host Table Specification, shows how host tables were defined for use with IP addresses. It was published in 1982.

Outgrowing the Host Table Name System and the Transition to DNS

It was at around this same time that continued growth of the ARPAnet/Internet made it apparent that the simple host table name system would eventually become unmanageable. With at first dozens and then soon hundreds and thousands of new hosts connecting to the internetwork, a single text file maintained in a central location just wasn't up to the task, for a variety of reasons.

The idea of moving to a hierarchical name system based on the concept of domains was first introduced in 1981 in RFC 799, Internet Name Domains. Considerable discussion and development of this concept occurred in the early 1980s, and by 1983 a plan was put in place to migrate from the flat host table name system to the new Domain Name System (DNS). The detailed history of the development of this name system is continued in the overview section on DNS.

 


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