Share This
« Back to Glossary Index

Jarkko Oikarinen developed the Internet[1] Relay Chat (IRC) in 1988 as a protocol for immediate text-based communication. Originally designed for group interactions in forums, it also extends support for private messaging and data, encompassing file transfer capabilities. Operating on a client-server network model, the inaugural network ran on a server named IRC servers can be accessed through various client applications like Mibbit, IRCCloud, KiwiIRC, and mIRC, which could be web-based applications, independent desktop software, or components of larger software. Despite its initial popularity, IRC usage has been dwindling since 2003, with a loss of 60% of its users. Yet, it continues to be a notable part of the internet communication history.

Terms definitions
1. Internet ( Internet ) The Internet, a global network of interconnected computer systems, utilizes standardized communication protocols, predominantly TCP/IP, to connect devices across the globe. The term 'Internet' has its roots in the 1849 term 'internetted' and was later adopted by the US War Department in 1945. The inception of the Internet can be traced back to the 1960s when computer scientists developed time-sharing systems, which eventually led to the creation of ARPANET in 1969. The Internet operates autonomously, without any central control, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages its primary name spaces. It has revolutionized traditional communication methods and has seen an exponential growth, with the number of internet users growing by 20% to 50% every year. In 2019, more than half of the global population was using the Internet. The Internet protocol suite, comprising TCP/IP and four conceptual layers, directs internet packets to their intended destinations. Fundamental services such as email and Internet telephony function on the Internet. The World Wide Web, an extensive network of interconnected documents, serves as a crucial element of the Internet.
IRC (Wikipedia)

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a text-based chat system for instant messaging. IRC is designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels, but also allows one-on-one communication via private messages as well as chat and data transfer, including file sharing.

Internet Relay Chat
Communication protocol
PurposeInstant messaging
Developer(s)Jarkko Oikarinen
IntroductionAugust 1988; 35 years ago (1988-08)
InfluencedNot yet superseded
IRCv3 (standards process working group)
OSI layerApplication layer
Port(s)6667, 6697
RFC(s)RFC 1459
The first IRC server,, a Sun-3 server on display near the University of Oulu computer centre

Internet Relay Chat is implemented as an application layer protocol to facilitate communication in the form of text. The chat process works on a client–server networking model. Users connect, using a client—which may be a web app, a standalone desktop program, or embedded into part of a larger program—to an IRC server, which may be part of a larger IRC network. Examples of programs used to connect include Mibbit, IRCCloud, KiwiIRC, and mIRC.

IRC usage has been declining steadily since 2003, losing 60 percent of its users. In April 2011, the top 100 IRC networks served more than 200,000 users at a time.

« Back to Glossary Index
Keep up with updates