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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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

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Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.