What Is Internet Request for Comments (RFC)?

Box for the comments
Vladimir Khmelnytskyi/Moment/Getty Images

RFC (Request for Comments) documents have been used by the Internet community for more than 40 years as a way to define new standards and share technical information. Researchers from universities and corporations publish these documents to offer best practices and solicit feedback on Internet technologies. RFCs are managed today by a worldwide organization called the ​Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

 

The very first RFCs including RFC 1 were published in 1969. Although the "host software" technology discussed in RFC 1 has long since become obsolete, documents like this one offer a very interesting glimpse into the early days of computer networking. Even today, the plain text format of the RFC remains essentially the same as it has since the beginning.

Many popular computer networking technologies in their early stages of development have been documented in RFCs over the years including

Even though the basic technologies of the Internet have matured, the RFC process continues running via the IETF. Documents are drafted and progress through several stages of review before final ratification. The topics covered in RFCs are intended for highly-specialized professional and academic research audiences.

Rather than Facebook-style public comment postings, comments on RFC documents are instead given through the RFC Editor site (rfc-editor.org).

For more information, see the master RFC Index at rfc-editor.org.