The History of Ping

Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

Everyone doing networking these days knows about the ping program.  What is often not known is how it originated.  I happened to be a by-stander and was able to see it being created.  The real story about ping is found on a web page written by Mike Muuss, the author of the original version of ping: The Story of the PING Program.  Mike named it after the sound made by sonar.  If you’ve seen the movie The Hunt for Red October, you may recall the scene where Sean Connery, captain of the Red October, issues the command to his chief, “Give me one ping, Vasily.”  That’s basically what the network version of ping does.  Is the remote destination reachable?

It was funny a few years ago (like 10 years?) to see people trying to turn PING into an acronym with phrases like Packet INternet Groper. Plausible, but as the MythBusters say, “Myth Busted!”

I happened to be visiting Mike the evening he created ping (he often worked late into the night).  He was an incredible software developer, producing high quality software at a rate that was ten times what other developers could create.  He had great insight into the right way to solve problems.  He and I worked together on the Test TCP (ttcp) program as well (see the comments in the TTCP source).

Several years ago, someone sent Mike a copy of a book The Story About Ping, which is the story of a duck.  Several web sites around the net have stories about this book, with the one on slashdot being primarily referenced: Review: The Story About Ping.


So, the next time you use ping, think of Mike and “Give me one ping.”



Re-posted with Permission 

NetCraftsmen would like to acknowledge Infoblox for their permission to re-post this article which originally appeared in the Applied Infrastructure blog under


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