Internet Relay Chat

The first IRC server,, a Sun-3 server on display near the University of Oulu computer centre. (2001)

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is an application layer protocol that facilitates communication in the form of text. The chat process works on a client/server networking model. IRC clients are computer programs that users can install on their system or web based applications running either locally in the browser or on a 3rd party server. These clients communicate with chat servers to transfer messages to other clients.[1] IRC is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels,[2] but also allows one-on-one communication via private messages[3] as well as chat and data transfer,[4] including file sharing.[5]

Client software is available for every major operating system that supports Internet access.[6] As of April 2011, the top 100 IRC networks served more than half a million users at a time,[7] with hundreds of thousands of channels[7] operating on a total of roughly 1,500 servers[7] out of roughly 3,200 servers worldwide.[8] IRC usage has been declining steadily since 2003, losing 60% of its users (from 1 million to about 400,000 in 2012) and half of its channels (from half a million in 2003).[9]

  1. ^ "Introduction". Internet Relay Chat Protocol. p. 4. sec. 1. doi:10.17487/RFC1459. RFC 1459.
  2. ^ "One-to-many". Internet Relay Chat Protocol. p. 11. sec. 3.2. doi:10.17487/RFC1459. RFC 1459.
  3. ^ "One-To-One Communication". Internet Relay Chat: Architecture. p. 5. sec. 5.1. doi:10.17487/RFC2810. RFC 2810.
  4. ^ Rollo, Troy. "A description of the DCC protocol". Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  5. ^ Wang, Wallace (25 October 2004). "Instant Messaging and Online Chat Rooms: Internet Relay Chat (IRC)". Steal this File Sharing Book (1st ed.). San Francisco, California: No Starch Press. pp. 61–67. ISBN 978-1-59327-050-6.
  6. ^ "SAGE IRC Channel". Sage – The USENIX Special Interest Group for Sysadmins. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b c "IRC Networks – Top 100". Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  8. ^ "IRC Servers – Summary". Archived from the original on 22 April 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference pingdom was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

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