A curl in every port

A few years back, Zach Bloom wrote The History of the URL: Path, Fragment, Query, and Auth. He recently expanded on it and republished it on the Cloudflare blog as The History of the URL. It’s well worth the time to read the whole thing. It’s packed full of fascinating tidbits.

In the section on ports, Zach says:

The timeline of Gopher and HTTP can be evidenced by their default port numbers. Gopher is 70, HTTP 80. The HTTP port was assigned (likely by Jon Postel at the IANA) at the request of Tim Berners-Lee sometime between 1990 and 1992.

Ooh, I can give you an exact date! It was January 24th, 1992. I know this because of the hack week in CERN last year to recreate the first ever web browser.

Kimberly was spelunking down the original source code, when she came across this line in the HTUtils.h file:

#define TCP_PORT 80 /* Allocated to http by Jon Postel/ISI 24-Jan-92 */

We showed this to Jean-François Groff, who worked on the original web technologies like libwww, the forerunner to libcurl. He remembers that day. It felt like they had “made it”, receiving the official blessing of Jon Postel (in the same RFC, incidentally, that gave port 70 to Gopher).

Then he told us something interesting about the next line of code:

#define OLD_TCP_PORT 2784 /* Try the old one if no answer on 80 */

Port 2784? That seems like an odd choice. Most of us would choose something easy to remember.

Well, it turns out that 2784 is easy to remember if you’re Tim Berners-Lee.

Those were the last four digits of his parents’ phone number.

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Previously on this day

1 year ago I wrote T minus one

‘Twas the night before Web@30, and not a particle was stirring, not even a meson.

4 years ago I wrote Accessible progressive disclosure

Using ARIA attributes to power JavaScript functionality.

6 years ago I wrote Return of the Responsive Day Out

It’s baaa-ack!

7 years ago I wrote Off-canvas horizontal lists

Sharing a pattern that didn’t quite work.

9 years ago I wrote Drupalcon in Chi-town

Back in Chicago.

11 years ago I wrote Texapalooza

South by Southwest bound.

15 years ago I wrote Austin update

I’ve arrived in Austin. The South by SouthWest festival hasn’t started yet and I’m already having a great time meeting some wonderful people.

17 years ago I wrote My glamourous life

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy for me.

18 years ago I wrote Cat Hospital starring Frank the Cat

You can keep an eye on the progress of poor Frank the cat who has become something of a celebrity: