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How Internet Infrastructure Works

By: Jeff Tyson & Chris Pollette

internet Protocol: Domain Name System

When the internet was in its infancy, it consisted of a small number of computers hooked together with modems and telephone lines. You could only make connections by providing the IP address of the computer you wanted to establish a link with. For example, a typical IP address might be 216.27.22.162. This was fine when there were only a few hosts out there, but it became unwieldy as more and more systems came online.

The first solution to the problem was a simple text file called a host table maintained by the Network Information Center (NIC) that mapped names to IP addresses. Soon this text file became so large it was too cumbersome to manage. In November 1983, Paul Mockapetris submitted two requests for comments to the International Network Working Group. RFC 882 outlines concepts of domain name system (DNS), which maps text names to IP addresses automatically. RFC 883 proposes ways of implementing the system. Thanks to his and many others' efforts, this way you only need to remember www.howstuffworks.com, for example, instead of the series of numbers and punctuation that is HowStuffWorks.com's IP address.

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