cURL, the ubiquitous data tool, is having a 25th birthday party this month

Enlarge / Curling, like the cURL project, requires precision and is underestimated.

When you start playing around with the command line, it can seem like there’s an impervious wall between the local space you’re playing in and the big Internet. On your end, you have your commands and files, and beyond the wall, there are servers, images, APIs, web pages, and more useful and ever-changing bits of data. One of the most popular ways to break through that wall has been cURL, or “client URL,” which turns 25 this month.

The cURL tool began as a way for programmer Daniel Stenberg to allow Internet Chat Relay users to quickly obtain currency exchange rates while still within their chat window. As detailed in an archived history of the project, it was originally built from an existing command line tool, httpget, created by Rafael Sagula. A 1.0 version was released in 1997, then renamed to urlget for 2.0 as it had been added in GOPHER, FTP and other protocols. In 1998, the tool could upload and download, so version 4.0 was named cURL.

Over the next several years, cURL grew to cover almost all Internet protocols, work with certificates and encryption, offer bindings for more than 50 languages, and be included in most Linux distributions and other systems. The cURL project now encompasses both the command line command and the libcurl library. As of 2020, the project’s history estimated that the command and library had been installed in more than 10 billion instances worldwide.

How do you celebrate an indispensable piece of Internet architecture turning 25? Stenberg plans to host a “Zoom birthday party” at 17:00 UTC time on March 20. He rechecked that time in his area: “It’s within this strange period between [when] The United States has switched to daylight saving time, while Europe has not yet,” Stenberg writes on his blog. Stenberg plans to take a sip of a 25-year-old Bowmore Islay single malt Scotch, as he introduces the history of the project and the future plans as he answers questions (a link to the Zoom call will be added to Stenberg’s blog post closer to March 20).

Given its near universal compatibility and availability, cURL remains a vital tool for fetching web page content, driving APIs, testing site availability and response time, and much more. It’s been moving data since Tom Holland was born; definitely deserves a little party.

Tech – Ars Technica

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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