The History of DHCP

Foundation of the Internet

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) was first defined as a standards-track protocol in RFC 1531 in October 1993, as an extension to the Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP), a network protocol used by a network client to obtain an IP address from a configuration server. The motivation for extending BOOTP was that BOOTP required manual intervention to add configuration information for each client, and did not provide a mechanism for reclaiming disused IP addresses. Many worked to clarify the protocol as it gained popularity, and in 1997 RFC 2131 was released, and remains the standard for IPv4 networks. To support IPv6 protocol, DHCPv6 was introduced and documented in RFC 3315.

DHCPv6 is an extensible protocol. Currently there are over 80 options defined, with many more undergoing the standardization process. RFC 3633 added a DHCPv6 mechanism for prefix delegation. DHCPv6 was further extended to provide configuration information to clients configured using stateless address auto-configuration in RFC 3736. To see a list of approved options and message types, please visit IANA’s website.

The ISC DHCP server was originally written for Internet Systems Consortium by Ted Lemon and Vixie Enterprises. ISC DHCP Release 3.0 had its alpha release in March 1999 and its final release in January 2003. Since 2004, a dedicated ISC engineering team has been maintaining and developing ISC DHCP, adding IPv6 support and failover support, among other things.