[ih] Origin of 'talk' command

Tim Buchheim buchheim at ISI.EDU
Thu Dec 19 11:34:58 PST 2002

On Thu, 2002-12-19 at 11:15, Joe Touch wrote:

> > Does anyone know the date that the Unix "talk" command originally 
> > appeared, and on what version/platform of Unix, and also if there's an 
> > RFC on it (I've not been able to locate one)?
> I would not expect an RFC: talk is between users on a single machine. 
> RFCs tend to require inter-machine communication ;-)

Every version of talk which I've used (admittedly, they were all within
the past ten years or so) has allowed talking to users on other
machines.   There are two variants:  talk uses port 517, whereas ntalk
uses port 518.  (I think the "talk" which ships with RedHat Linux is
actually an ntalk implementation.)

The popular ytalk program supports both protocols.  The older talk
program is flawed in that some implementations use host byte order
rather than network byte order, which makes talking between
little-endian and big-endian machines a problem.  (ytalk automatically
senses the problem and swaps bytes as necessary.)

the talk(1) man pages on both FreeBSD and RedHat Linux say that talk was
released with 4.2BSD.

Tim Buchheim

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