TCP/IP background

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

TCP/IP background

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is an industry-standard suite of protocols designed for large-scale internetworks that span LAN and WAN environments.

As the following timeline shows, the origins of TCP/IP began in 1969, when the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) commissioned the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).

Timeline for TCP/IP

The ARPANET was the result of a resource-sharing experiment. The purpose was to provide high-speed network communication links between various supercomputers located at various regional sites within the United States.

Early protocols such as Telnet (for virtual terminal emulation) and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) were first developed to specify basic utilities needed for sharing information across the ARPANET. As the ARPANET grew in size and scope, two other important protocols appeared:

  • In 1974, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) was introduced as a draft specification that described how to build a reliable, host-to-host data transfer service over a network.

  • In 1981, Internet Protocol (IP) was introduced in draft form and described how to implement an addressing standard and route packets between interconnected networks.

On January 1, 1983, ARPANET began to require standard use of the TCP and IP protocols for all network traffic and essential communication. From this date forward, ARPANET started to become more widely known as the Internet and its required protocols started to become more widely known as the TCP/IP protocol suite.

The TCP/IP protocol suite is implemented in a variety of TCP/IP software offerings available for use with many computing platforms. Today, TCP/IP software remains widely in use on the Internet and is used often for building large routed private internetworks.


  • The Microsoft® Windows Server 2003 family includes the latest version of the Internet Protocol (IP), known as IP version 6. For more information, see IP Version 6.