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WHOIS Running the Internet: Protocol, Policy, and Privacy by Garth O. Bruen

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1THE HISTORY OF WHOIS

Through the development of the Internet, in general, we see the development of WHOIS and its concepts as a necessary component. While the need for a clear record set for the network seemed a fundamental technical requirement, it was not simple to construct and manage. Throughout history, questions and discussions about the meaning and use of these resource records began to emerge. It is clear that various policy issues were on the minds of the early RFC authors, which sometimes portend future conflicts.

1.1 IN THE BEGINNING

In 1982, this dry sentence launched the Internet’s model of record access for the next 30 years and beyond:

The NICNAME/WHOIS Server is an NCP/TCP transaction based query/response server, running on the SRI-NIC machine, that provides net-wide directory service to ARPANET users.1

Where the SRI-NIC machine sits or what “SRI” stands for is not explained or footnoted in the document. Anyone reading it at the time would have common knowledge of its meaning. “NIC” of course stands for Network Information Center or Controller. Understanding what is behind these acronyms opens a door to the history of the Internet. SRI stands for Stanford Research Institute. In 1982, SRI-NIC, and its related machines, was the Internet. Many readers may be more familiar with the ARPANET as a precursor to the Internet. The ARPANET was a government-funded initiative to connect networks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, Xerox, the ...

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