Hack Across America Starts and IRC History

Darren starts Hack Across America with a visit to Overland Expo. Then Shannon sets up her IRC from Pidgin! All that and more, this time on Hak5!

A Little History of IRC

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) started in Finland, and the University of Oulu. It was created in 1988 by Jarkko "WiZ" Oikarinen. He basically wanted to implement real time discussions BBS style. He created the chat part, which we're all familiar with, then started his own server. Eventually Jarkko and two of his friends asked the University if they could use the IRC code outside of Oulu. They then installed a new server, to be the first IRC network. New IRC servers started gaining momentum in several Universities around the world, as it's use grew and more servers were installed.

A server called eris.berkeley.edu was created in 1990, and was completely open- no passwords or limits, new servers were connected, and everyone was 'nick-colliding' - a term used to describe when two users with the same nick both end up being killed.

EFnet was then created to Q-line (quarantine) the eris machine from IRC, and both eventually died as the first major disagreement in the IRC world. Several other forks off IRC were created in the early 1990's, including TubNet and the Undernet. Undernet tried to make ircd (the server software for IRC) less of a bandwidth hog and fix some of the issues EFnet fell to.

RFC (request for comments) 1459 for IRC was made public in 1993. After this, Dalnet was formed- another fork of an older server. Dalnet many options that are still used to this day, such as longer nicknames (they started as only 9 characters), Q:Lined nicks (you can't use ChanServ, etc, as a username), K:Lines (banning), etc. Oz.org was forked off Undernet too, mainly for Australian use due to connection problems with the network link across the TransPacific Australian / US line.

The Great Split happened in 1996, after a disagreement in how ircd should evolve, when EFnet wanted timestamps and IRCnet (the European servers) wanted nick and channel delays. Both services grew rapidly in the next two years, with several thousand users.

When we hit the 2000's, Freenode is born out of the Open Projects Network. Many other networks were created around this time, many of which exist today. Many standardization attempts have been made for all networks to abide to, but none have worked. Since 2004/5 IRC has seen a decline in users, with Quakenet being the most used network with over 100K in 2011.

Now we have several programs to use IRC, and many more hacks to make IRC more powerful. I promised I'd answer some feedback about IRC, so here it is!

Chad asks:

Rather than attaching each individual messenger account to BitlBee is there a way to combine BitlBee and Pidgin so only one account, your pidgin account, is connected to BitlBee? Or is it possible to only use Pidgin?