Browse Prior Art Database

Telnet Protocol specification (RFC0764) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000003812D
Original Publication Date: 1980-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-14
Document File: 16 page(s) / 23K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

J. Postel: AUTHOR

Related Documents

10.17487/RFC0764: DOI

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 9% of the total text.

IEN 148 J. Postel RFC 764 ISI June 1980



The purpose of the TELNET Protocol is to provide a fairly general, bi-directional, eight-bit byte oriented communications facility. Its primary goal is to allow a standard method of interfacing terminal devices and terminal-oriented processes to each other. It is envisioned that the protocol may also be used for terminal-terminal communication ("linking") and process-process communication (distributed computation).


A TELNET connection is a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection used to transmit data with interspersed TELNET control information. TCP and the connection establishment procedure are documentented in the ARPA Internet Protocol Handbook.

The TELNET Protocol is built upon three main ideas: first, the concept of a "Network Virtual Terminal"; second, the principle of negotiated options; and third, a symmetric view of terminals and processes.

1. When a TELNET connection is first established, each end is assumed to originate and terminate at a "Network Virtual Terminal", or NVT. An NVT is an imaginary device which provides a standard, network-wide, intermediate representation of a canonical terminal. This eliminates the need for "server" and "user" Hosts* to keep information about the characteristics of each other’s terminals and terminal handling conventions. All Hosts, both user and server, map their local device characteristics and conventions so as to appear to be dealing with an NVT over the network, and each can assume a similar mapping by the other party. The NVT is intended to strike a balance between being overly restricted (not providing Hosts a rich enough vocabulary for mapping into their local character sets), and being overly inclusive (penalizing users with modest terminals).

*NOTE: The "user" Host is the Host to which the physical terminal is normally attached, and the "server" host is the Host which is normally providing some service. As an alternate point of view, applicable even in terminal-to-terminal or process-to-process communications, the "user" Host is the Host which initiated the communication.

Postel [Page 1]

June 1980 RFC 764, IEN 148 Telnet Protocol Specification

2. The principle of negotiated options takes cognizance of the fact that many sites will wish to provide additional services over and above those available within an NVT, and many users will have sophisticated terminals and would like to have elegant, rather than minimal, services. Independent of, but structured within, the TELNET Protocol various "options" will be sanctioned which can be used with the "DO, DON’T, WILL, WON’T" structure (discussed below) to allow a user and server to agree to use a more elaborate (or perhaps just different) set of conventions for their TELNET connection. Such options could include changing the character set, the echo mode, the line width, the page length, etc.

The basic strategy for setting up the use of...