K. Harrenstien, V. White. March 1982.
Ken Harrenstien RFC-812
Vic White 1 March 1982
Network Information Center
The NICNAME/WHOIS Server is an NCP/TCP transaction based
query/response server, running on the SRI-NIC machine, that
provides netwide directory service to ARPANET users. It is
one of a series of ARPANET/Internet name services maintained
by the Network Information Center (NIC) at SRI International
on behalf of the Defense Communications Agency (DCA). The
server is accessible across the ARPANET from user programs
running on local hosts, and it delivers the full name, U.S.
mailing address, telephone number, and network mailbox for
This server, together with the corresponding Identification
Data Base provides online directory look-up equivalent to the
ARPANET Directory. DCA strongly encourages network hosts to
provide their users with access to this network service.
WHO SHOULD BE IN THE DATA BASE
DCA requests that each individual with a directory on an
ARPANET host, who is capable of passing traffic across the
ARPANET, be registered in the NIC Identification Data Base.
To register, send full name, middle initial, U.S. mailing
address (including mail stop and full explanation of
abbreviations and acronyms), ZIP code, telephone (including
Autovon and FTS, if available), and one network mailbox, via
electronic mail to NIC@SRI-NIC.
The NICNAME protocol is similar to the NAME/FINGER protocol
(RFC 742). To access the server:
Connect to the service host (SRI-NIC)
TCP: service port 43 decimal
NCP: ICP to socket 43 decimal, establishing two 8-bit
Send a single "command line", ending with <CRLF>.
Receive information in response to the command line. The
server closes its connections as soon as the output is
RFC 812 1 March 1982
EXISTING USER PROGRAMS
NICNAME has been chosen as the global name for the user
program, although some sites may choose to use the more
familiar name of "WHOIS". There are versions of NICNAME for
Tenex, Tops-20, and Unix. The Tenex and Tops-20 programs are
written in assembly language (FAIL/MACRO), and the Unix
version is written in C. They are easy to invoke, taking one
argument which is passed directly to the NICNAME server at
SRI-NIC. Normally it is best to use the NIC-supplied
programs, if possible, since the protocol will continue to
evolve. Contact NIC@SRI-NIC for copies.
COMMAND LINES AND REPLIES
A command line is normally a single name specification. The
easiest way to obtain the most recent documentation on name
specifications is to give the server a command line consisting
of "?<CRLF>" (that is, a question-mark alone as the name
specification). The response from the NICNAME server will
list all possible formats that can be used.
The responses are not currently intended to be
machine-readable; the information is meant to be passed back
directly to a human user. The following three examples will
illustrate the use of NICNAME.
Command line: ?
Please enter a name or a handle ("ident"), such as "Smith"
or "SRI-NIC". Starting with a period forces a name-only
starting with exclamation point forces handle-only. Examples:
Smith [looks for name or handle SMITH ]
!SRI-NIC [looks for handle SRI-NIC only ]
.Smith, John [looks for name JOHN SMITH only ]
Adding "..." to the argument will match anything from that
e.g. "ZU..." will match ZUL, ZUM, etc.
To have the ENTIRE membership list of a group or
if you are asking about a group or org, shown with the record,
an asterisk character "*" directly preceding the given
[CAUTION: If there are a lot of members this will take a long
You may of course use exclamation point and asterisk, or a
and asterisk together.
1 March 1982 RFC 812
Command line: dyer
Dyer, David A. (DAD2) DDYER@USC-ISIB (213) 822-1511
Dyer, Fred S. (FSD) Dyer@RADC-MULTICS (315) 330-7275
Dyer, Mary K. (MARY) DYER@SRI-NIC (415) 859-4775
Dyer, William R. (WRD) WRDyer@RADC-MULTICS (315) 330-7791
Command line: mary
Dyer, Mary K. (MARY) DYER@SRI-NIC
Network Information Center
Telecommunications Sciences Center
333 Ravenswood Avenue
Menlo Park, California 94025
Phone: (415) 859-4775