My first 25 years of HTTP

I like figuring out even or somehow particularly aligned numbers and dates to celebrate. Here’s another one: today marks the day when httpget 0.1 was released in 1996.

httpget 0.1 was a tiny command line tool written by Rafael Sagula. It was less than 300 lines of C code. (Today, the product code is 173,000 lines!)

I found httpget just days after it was released when I was searching for a tool to use for downloading currency rates with from an HTTP site. This was the time before Google existed so I assume I used Altavista or something. I can’t remember actually.

The httpget source code was my initial step into the HTTP world. In many ways, reading that code opened my eyes.

Of course there was some issues with the code that I can’t remember any longer, but I very soon sent Rafael my first patches to improve it. A few weeks later I took over maintenance of the little tool. The rest is documented elsewhere. The oldest httpget source code I still have around is httpget 1.3, released sometime between April and August 1997.

I have since been working with HTTP pretty much daily. For twenty-five years.

If someone tries to tell you that HTTP is an easy or simple protocol, don’t believe them.

3 thoughts on “My first 25 years of HTTP”

  1. Ah, finally one point where I beat you by a very thin margin with some absolutely ugly code that served me a few years 🙂

    I guess that 1996 was for us the real beginning of HTTP. I had never heard about the term “proxy” by then so I called my program “a program that receives requests and connects to servers” 🙂 Really fun times by then…

      1. By the way I’m wondering if I have not used httpget. In 1997 it was my last year at the university and I had a pager in my pocket. The service was still not fully operational and was free to use from their experimental web server. It was taking GET requests with the short message in query string. I remember that I wrote a small utility that I placed into my .forward, to compact SMTP messages received on stdin to the shortest possible length (trim spaces around delims etc), and piped it to a simple HTTP client. I wouldn’t swear it was httpget but the name doesn’t sound stranger to me from that era. I can’t find my old program anymore to confirm though.

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