<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=113162732434478&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

The History of Border Gateway Protocol

by Logan Rivenes on December 14, 2016
Logan Rivenes
Find me on:
The History of Border Gateway Protocol

Border gateway protocol is how the internet routes traffic. Its origins date back to the early days of the internet.

Before the complex web of cables we have today, there were humble beginnings. Sending short words over networks. And half the words didn't arrive. Primitive email messages between research institutions.

As the internet grows, the need for network routing protocols increases. As the internet becomes more dynamic, we need more dynamic protocols. Today, we have border gateway protocol as the primary routing protocol.

We will take a journey through the development of modern day internet routing. We are going to look at the history of border gateway protocol (BGP).

Before Border Gateway Protocol

Before BGP, there was a lot of development in networking and the internet. From the first message sent to the founding of Cisco Systems, there are precursors to the three pieces of paper that would become BGP.

BGP was not the first attempt at an internet routing protocol. It also continues to evolve as we have more internet transit and connected devices.

Here are some significant events in the years leading up to BGP.


UCLA sends the first internet message to the Stanford Research Institute. The message was “login”, which only “lo” was received. This is the first successful internet message.


ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) begins to implement the future internet protocol. This is early data packet switching. Later, this provides TCP/IP, which gives us a system of 15 nodes and email.


The gateway-to-gateway protocol (GGP) is developed. One of the early internet protocols, the only focus was routing based on the number of AS hops. GGP focused on routing internet transit the fewest number of autonomous system (AS) hops to a destination.


Exterior gateway protocol was formally developed in 1984. It was conceptually discussed in 1982, but the formal announcement did not come until RFC 904. EGP was a tree-like distance-vector internet routing protocol.

In December 1984, Cisco Systems is founded. Cisco Systems plays one of the largest roles in the building of the modern internet.


The National Science Foundation begins to support advanced research and education in networking.


The first super computers are connected to the internet. The National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) initiated TCP/IP connections and operations. This becomes the first form of the internet backbone.


The Routing Information Protocol (RIP), RFC 1058, is developed. This is the oldest distance-vector routing protocol in its modern context. This begins to lay the groundwork for BGP.

The events through the 1980s expose the need for an all-encompassing internet routing protocol. This is exactly when BGP is developed. On three sheets of paper.

Border Gateway Protocol is Invented

As the 1980s are coming to a close, the need for an improved network routing protocol is increasing. The 1990s are the decade where the internet takes off. BGP is a development that makes this possible.

Here are important events in the formidable years of BGP.


January 1989, in Austin, Texas at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), BGP is created. Drawn on three sheets of paper, Yakov Rekhter of IBM and Kirk Lougheed of Cisco, design BGP. The original three sheets of paper are hanging in Cisco’s modern day offices.


In June of this year, the internet memo, RFC 1105, is released with BGP version 1. This changes internet routing protocols from being tree-like topologies into the modern mesh topologies we have today.

At the same time BGP is being developed, we have the first internet exchanges. These are two federal internet exchanges.


In early 1990, Cisco Systems goes public. Networking is now flush with cash.

During the same year, we get the first major revision of BGP. This is BGP version 2 with RFC 1163.


In October of this year, we get two important updates to border gateway protocol. The first is BGP Algorithm Analysis in RFC 1265. The second is BGP version 3 in RFC 1267.

Within a matter of three years, we have BGP developed, released, and 3 new versions deployed. But, we have not reached modern day BGP, which is coming in the next year. We will get BGP version 4, which is the version we use today.

Modern Day Border Gateway Protocol

As BGP hits its modern form with BGP version 4, we see fewer sweeping revisions of the protocol.

Here are important events that bring us modern day BGP.


In July of 1994, we have the release of BGP version 4. The first release is with RFC 1654. We use BGP version 4 to this day and it has a few significant updates over the years.



The first major revision to BGP version 4 is released in March under RFC 1771. This is the revision of BGP we use today.


To learn more about BGP, download the AWS Network Optimization Whitepaper.

Download the AWS  Network Optimization Whitepaper

Mehr: BGP