FTP is 40 years old

Written by Clive Webster

April 15, 2011 // 1:27 p.m.

Tags: #background #birthday #ftp #milestone #origins #spec

The backbone of the Internet, FTP (file transfer protocol), celebrates its 40th birthday tomorrow. Originally launched as the RFC 114 specification, which was published on 16 April 1971, FTP is arguably even more important today than when it was born.

Even though young upstarts such as P2P networks are now available, it’s FTP that forms the link to many cloud-based services and applications. It’s also deemed more secure than P2P, which is an essential trait for online banking or other sensitive traffic.

Frank Kenney, vice president of global strategy for US managed file transfer company Ipswitch, told us that the protocol we know as FTP today is ‘a far cry from when Abhay Bushan, a student at MIT, wrote the original specifications for FTP.

According to Kenney, the standard has grown from ‘a simple protocol to copy files over a TCP-based network… [to] a sophisticated, integrated model that provides control, visibility, compliance and security in a variety of environments, including the cloud.

Kenney added that ‘FTP has gone through a drastic evolution, from a basic way of easily moving information, to the foundations for the majority of the data transfer and application integration technologies that we all rely on so heavily today.

You can find Ipswitch at stand H70 of the Infosecurity Europe 2011 show in Earl’s Court, London from 19 to 21 April.

Join us in a toast to FTP - at 40 years of age, it’s lasted well and looks like it will remain a relevant technology for years to come. What uses do you currently have for FTP? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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