Browse Prior Art Database

Perspective on the ARPANET reference model (RFC0871) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000003920D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-14
Document File: 29 page(s) / 46K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

M.A. Padlipsky: AUTHOR

Related Documents

10.17487/RFC0871: DOI


This RFC is primarily intended as a perspective on the ARM and points out some of the differences between the ARM and the ISORM which were expressed by members in NWG general meetings, NWG protocol design committee meetings, the ARPA Internet Working Group, and private conversations over the intervening years. Originally published as M82-47 by the MITRE Corporation, Bedford, Massachusetts.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 6% of the total text.


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RFC 871 September 1982 M82-47




The paper, by one of its developers, describes the conceptual framework in which the ARPANET intercomputer networking protocol suite, including the DoD standard Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), were designed. It also compares and contrasts several aspects of the ARPANET Reference Model (ARM) with the more widely publicized International Standards Organization’s Reference Model for Open System Interconnection (ISORM).



M. A. Padlipsky


Despite the fact that "the ARPANET" stands as the proof-of-concept of intercomputer networking and, as discussed in more detail below, introduced such fundamental notions as Layering and Virtualizing to the literature, the wide availability of material which appeals to the International Standards Organization’s Reference Model for Open System Interconnection (ISORM) has prompted many new- comers to the field to overlook the fact that, even though it was largely tacit, the designers of the ARPANET protocol suite have had a reference model of their own all the long. That is, since well before ISO even took an interest in "networking", workers in the ARPA-sponsored research community have been going about their business of doing research and development in intercomputer networking with a particular frame of reference in mind. They have, unfortunately, either been so busy with their work or were perhaps somehow unsuited temperamentally to do learned papers on abstract topics when there are interesting things to be said on specific topics, that it is only in very recent times that there has been much awareness in the research community of the impact of the ISORM on the lay mind. When the author is asked to review solemn memoranda comparing such things as the ARPANET treatment of "internetting" with that of CCITT employing the ISORM "as the frame of reference," however, the time has clearly come to attempt to enunciate the ARPANET Reference Model (ARM) publicly--for such comparisons are painfully close to comparing an orange with an apple using redness and smoothness as the dominant criteria, given the philosophical closeness of the CCITT and ISO models and their mutual disparities from the ARPANET model.

This paper, then, is primarily intended as a perspective on the ARM. (Secondarily, it is intended to point out some of the differences between the ARM and the ISORM. For a perspective on this subtheme, please see Note [1]) It can’t be "the official" version because the ARPANET Network Working Group (NWG), which was the collective source of the ARM, hasn’t had an official general meeting since October, 1971, and can scarcely be resurrected to haggle over it. It does, at least, represent with some degree of fidel...