The Two-Napkin Protocol


An interesting piece of history I didn’t previously know.

It was 1989. Kirk Lougheed of Cisco and Yakov Rekhter of IBM were having lunch in a meeting hall cafeteria at an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) conference.

They wrote a new routing protocol that became RFC (Request for Comment) 1105, the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), known to many as the “Two Napkin Protocol” — in reference to the napkins they used to capture their thoughts.

The post is worth a read just to see the photos of the napkins. I’ve never really thought before about how RFCs come to be. I’d always assumed they were the result of clever people in offices, not really thought up on the back of a napkin over drinks!

Also, as it’s 2019… happy 30th birthday, BGP (and the World Wide Web).