When IP, or “internet protocol” was invented in 1977, no-one imagined that we’d actually get through the 4.2 billion possible addresses. Turns out that there are only 600 million or so left, and given the rate at which mobile phones are going online, there’s every chance we could run out as soon as 2010.
Vince Cerf, one of the founders of the internet, said: “This is like the internet running out of telephone numbers and with no new numbers, you can’t have more subscribers”.
A new version of the IP system, IPv6, is already in place, and can provide upto 340 undecilion addresses. That’s 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 devices. That’s 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 for each person alive on earth toinight. Might be enough for the time being, but then we thought that about IPv4…
IPv6 is built into most modern operating systems by default, but versions of Windows before XP would need patching to communicate with IPv6 machines. Users of Mac OSX pre-10.2 would need a similar patch, though almost all Linux distributions have had IPv6 compatibility for a long time.
IPv6 reference centre (via ITProPortal)