[ih] ARPANET Telnet design story

Adriana C. Arrington aca at cs.utexas.edu
Wed Dec 11 08:13:40 PST 2002


I am continuing the research for the technical history of Telnet with
Chris Edmondson-Yurkanan for the THINK Protocols project.

The goal of THIS email is to solicit some stories, opinions, regrets,
deadends, etc. on the design (or early usage) of the Telnet protocol, that
would add the personal touch to the story, help engage the novice reader
in the subject, and perhaps better explain some decisions made in the
development of the protocol.  The time frame for the story is
mainly between 1968 and 1973, but any experiences after 1973 are also

I have included the outline of the story as a reference, and in case you
are interested, the URL to the current version of the story:

Adriana Arrington

The Design of the Telnet Protocol for the ARPANET
December 5, 2002


-The State of Networking and the Struggle to Organize (ARPANET

-Ad-hoc Telnet: The First Attempts at Demonstrating Remote
 Login on the ARPANET (Late 1969)

-The Old Telnet Protocol (1971 - 1973)
  =Why Telnet Became a Protocol
  =First Issues in the Effort to Standardize (Early 1971)
    +The Need for a Consistent Character Set
    +To Echo or Not to Echo
    +The Trouble with Interrupt Handling on the Server Side
    +Making the Telnet Connection
  =The Necessity of the Network Virtual Terminal and the N^2 Problem
  =The Experience with Old Telnet (1973)
    +Asymmetrical Control Structure
    +Little Room for Expanding the Number of Control Functions and Options
    +The Problem with the Character-at-a-Time and Line-at-a-Time Hosts

(what follows has yet to be written)
-The New Telnet Protocol (1973 - 1980)
  =The More Symmetrical Telnet: WILL, WONT, DO, DONT
  =Negotiated Options - A Key Concept
  =Solving the Echoing Problem
  =Expanding the Set of Control Functions with IAC
  =Help for Half-Duplex Systems: The Go-Ahead Control Function
  =Comments and Experiences with the New Implementation

  =Relationship between the ARPANET Telnet and Today's Telnet

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