Internet Spec List

Talk Protocols

Talk protocols allow two or more users to communicate, using a telnet-like client, with separate send and receive windows.

Unfortunately, a number of versions have proliferated, including: Talk, nTalk (New Talk), yTalk, oTalk, etc.

As a result, Talk protocols have been overshadowed by IRC, MUDs, IPhone, et. al. -- however, many Unix systems still support them.


Talk can be implemented as a separate talk server daemon and client, or a combined application that works as both server and client.

The server side opens a UDP port (517 for talk, 518 for ntalk), and listens for incoming requests to start a talk session.

The client side generally initiates a talk session by asking for a particular user on a host: user@host.dom -- the server resolves the user name to an existing TCP port, or notifies the target user that a request has come in.

Once the session has started, everthing a user types in their send window is sent the the other user; you receive everything typed by the other user in a scrolling receive window.

Many talk implementation support special escape key sequences that allow controlling your (or the other user's) client.


- Talk MAN Pages
- nTalk MAN Pages
- Internet Relay Chat (IRC) - RFC 1459
- Multi-User Domains (MUD)

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