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What is IPv4?

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IPv4, at its simplest, is best described as the fourth version of the internet protocol. Internet protocol, better recognized as IP, is the internet’s most basic and consistent set of rules for communication.

As implemented, IPv4 is the most widespread protocol used in data communication over a variety of networks. The Internet Protocol version 4 was released to the public in 1982 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Unused IP addresses are needed for the IPv4 protocol to function. Though billions of unique addresses were available across the globe, the supply was not limitless. As the internet and its uses grew, computers and similar technologies were not the only devices that needed their own individual IP address.

Smart refrigerators, smart TVs, and smartphones all began to need IP addresses as well, further depleting the already rapidly decreasing supply. Though initially introduced in 1995, World IPv6 day in June of 2011 was a universal world event where five major internet companies, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Akamai Technologies, and Limelight Networks, began the introduction of the next version of Internet Protocol, IPv6.

Like any new technology, IPv6 has not debuted without facing issues and some criticism. While the world is slowly becoming accustomed to its successor, IPv4 is still relevant today. An IPv4 address is presented as a series of four eight-bit binary numbers separated by decimal points.