IRC History

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IRC was created by Jarkko Oikarinen in August 1988 to replace a program called MUT (MultiUser Talk) on a BBS called OuluBox in Finland. Oikarinen found inspiration in a chat system known as Bitnet Relay, which operated on the BITNET. Source

Here is a quote from Jarkko Oikarinen:

Another already existing simple multiuser chat program on OuluBox was MUT (MultiUser Talk), it was written by Jukka Pihl ( That program has a bad habit of not working properly, so in order to fix this, the first implemented thing of this BBS plan was IRC. The birthday of IRC was in August 1988. The exact date is unknown, at the end of the month anyways.

Bitnet Relay Chat was a good inspiration for IRC. When IRC started occasionally having more than 10 users, I asked some friends of mine to start running irc servers in south Finland, mainly in Tampere University of Technology and Helsinki University of Technology. Some other universities soon followed. Markku J{rvinen ( improved the irc client (there was only one at that time) to support some emacs editing commands. At that time it was obvious that adding BBS like functions to the program was not a good idea, it's better to have one program for one purpose. So the BBS extension idea was given up and just IRC stayed.

IRC was well spread in Finland. I contacted some friends of mine through BITNET Relay and asked if they would try this program. Internet connections did not yet work from Finland to other countries, so they could not connect to the Finnish network (which I suppose was the reason for them not being very enthusiastic about irc). Internet connections to states started working (I don't anymore remember when). I answered to some news articles where people asked for multiuser chat programs. I didn't get replies.

At mit, there was the legendary machine running ITS. I got an account there and learned to use it a little bit. Enough to know how to chat with people. From there I got the first IRC user outside Scandinavia, Mike Jacobs used IRC through OuluBox (he did not have account on any Unix machines). You Can Read The Full Article Here