Question: Terrifying Capitals or Pointless? Every introductory article on TCP/IP explains what IP stands for but not what TCP stands for. This trend is so consistent that I must assume it is intentional. I do not want to know what TCP stands for, I just want to know: why is it a secret? Is this an acronym which someone forgot to explain to someone else at a crucial moment in history and today there is not a person alive who knows what TCP is? – Bill Freese <[email protected]>
Answer: If you think TCP is an odd acronym, look at TWAIN. A scanner protocol developed by a consortium, it used to stand for Technology Without An Important (or Interesting) Name. However, the TWAIN Working Group denies TWAIN was ever an acronym.
TCP is Transmission Control Protocol, but it’s one of those acronyms that’s just so rooted (not routed) in history, that it doesn’t really mean anything now. What the heck does "transmission control protocol" mean? It could be the way you move a car’s gear shift in geek speak.
TCP is vastly confusing. The protocol is a seven-layer cake (literally seven layers but not literally a cake), with each layer being a further abstraction. You have an application layer, where programs talk one kind of language. You have deeper layers were data gets packaged, and even deeper ones where the TCP stack of layers talks to a physical device, like an Ethernet controller, and keeps track of how well the data is transferring and retransmits packets as needed. We might get into this in future issues, or might run screaming into the night. Now that we’ve given out the secret of the acronym, we might no longer be safe. [GF]