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This article was posted to the Usenet group alt.hackers in 1995; any technical information is probably outdated.

Web browser as (even more) general purpose TCP/IP client

Article: 7934 of alt.hackers
Newsgroups: alt.hackers
From: (MB. Taylor)
Subject: Web browser as (even more) general purpose TCP/IP client
Sender: (Usenet news owner)
Organization: Chemistry dept, Bristol University, UK
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 1995 19:28:41 GMT
Approved: No, buzz off.
Lines: 43
Status: RO

Nothing to say, apart from my


I was leafing through /etc/services and trying out a few TCP/IP services,
and it occurred to me that you can get some useful stuff done by just
sending *anything* to the right port of some servers, and even more
by sending not very complicated things.  E.g. you can get the time
of day by telnetting to port 13 of a daytime server without any input.
Since the gopher protocol specifies sending an empty string as first
request to a gopher server, you can fool a web browser into getting the
13 is the daytime port, and the 0 tells the browser it's going to get a
text document back.

But you can adapt this to do more complicated things, e.g. finger
name@host.domain by by using the URL:

or get a list of newsgroups from your NNTP server (multiple lines by
inserting %0d%0a in between):

and so on.  You can even gopher to port 80 and speak HTTP to retrieve
an HTML document (I haven't tried this, but I suppose you could do it
to coax a gopher client to read documents off the WWW, though it
wouldn't pick up the hyperlinks of course).

I've put some examples at
If you visit, why not use the 'link' there which speaks SMTP to a
local server and sends me mail.

Not exactly essential stuff, but I thought it was neat.

| Mark Beauchamp Taylor  -  physicist trapped in a chemist's body.    |
|  |
| Department of Chemistry, University of Bristol, UK                  -------
-----------------------------------------------------| ... It's the future! |

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