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[ih] how big was the host file

These files are another implicit tribute to Peter Kirstein at UCL, who brought the Internet as was to the UK, and which also reminds me of the days of the UK NRS in which domains were held in a similar text file but registered big-endian for the colour book protocols the UK used at the time.


We then also had the fun of determining how to handle email to uk.ibm.com<http://uk.ibm.com>.


On 5 Feb 2020, at 22:15, Brian E Carpenter via Internet-history <internet-history at elists.isoc.org<mailto:internet-history at elists.isoc.org>> wrote:

A little Google work got me:

June 1985, 1528 hostnames.

December 1986, 4480 hostnames.

May 1987, 5343 hostnames.

November 1988, 7083 hostnames.

Compare these to the RFC1296 size estimates of the Internet:

1985: 1961 nodes
1986: 5089
1987: 28174
1988: 56000

In other words, the NIC table was overwhelmed by growth by 1986 and its size had ceased to matter by then. From those numbers, it looks as if DNS superseded hosts.txt in practice around mid-1986. Read the introductory text of RFC1296 for more.

  Brian Carpenter

On 06-Feb-20 09:53, Michael Kj?rling via Internet-history wrote:
On 5 Feb 2020 20:33 +0000, from internet-history at elists.isoc.org (Jacques Latour via Internet-history):
How big was the host file before the DNS came in action? 200K entries?

I'm not sure, but 200K entries sounds large.

RFCs 1034 and 1035 are dated November 1987. Though work began earlier,
that's probably a decent approximation for when "DNS came into

RFC 1296 (January 1992) provides some data points on Internet growth
for the period 1981-1991. That one gives the number of hosts with an
IP address on the Internet in December 1987 as 28,174.

The next data point in that RFC is about half a year later, in July
1988, at 33,000; followed by October 1988, 56,000.

Even taking into account that migrating to DNS probably wasn't
instant, my guess for the size of the hosts file in late 1987 would be
a lot closer to 20K entries than 200K.

Extrapolating from the data in RFC 1296, the Internet would have
passed 200K IP hosts some time in mid-1990, with some 85% of those
(net) added post-DNS.

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