NameD•Tective — mDNS over AppleTalk

[From the Archives of Amusing Technology…] Back in the ’90s, Dave Fisher and I created NameD•tective, a Macintosh control panel that gave any Mac on the Dartmouth network a static DNS name.

It used Name Binding Protocol to let someone create a DNS name based on their name plus their AppleTalk zone. The DNS name had the form: person-name.AppleTalk-zone…dartmouth.edu. The NameD•tective server looked up the NBP name, and returned the computer’s current IP address. Here’s a screen shot of the archived page from Dartmouth’s website from the Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/19961220043011/http://www.dartmouth.edu/pages/softdev/named.html

The page above shows an example: cd-changer.kiewit.atzone.dartmouth.edu was a server in my office that distributed information to other developers in the Kieiwt building. NameD•tective probably didn’t get broad use at Dartmouth, but it was a neat demonstration project. It led Dave and me to develop the MacDNS software that was shipped as part of Apple’s Internet Connection Kit.

Today, computer naming is much simpler. Modern operating systems let a computer specify a mDNS (multicast DNS) name that can be directly looked up to find a host that provides the service.

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