IRC was born during summer 1988 when Jarkko “WiZ” Oikarinen wrote the first IRC client and server at the University of Oulu, Finland (where he was working at the Department of Information Processing Science).
Jarkko intended to extend the BBS software he administrated at tolsun.oulu.fi, to allow news the usenet style, real time discussions and similar BBS features. The first part he implemented was the chat part, which he did with borrowed parts written by his friends Jyrki Kuoppala and Jukka Pihl. It was initially tested on a single machine, and according to the words from Jarkko himself “The birthday of IRC was in August 1988. The exact date is unknown, at the end of the month anyways.”. The first IRC server was named tolsun.oulu.fi.
Jyrki Kuoppala pushed Jarkko to ask Oulu University to free the IRC code so that it also could be run outside of Oulu, and after they finally got it released, Jyrki Kuoppala immediately installed a server (which later became irc.cs.hut.fi). This was the first “irc network”.
Ari Lemmke’s own words: “At the same time Jyrki installed ircd, I was at the same room and had nothing to do, so I decided to crack into tolsun (the irc server Sun machine at Oulu), and naturally ;-) got in through a new hole in sendmail. (At that time Jyrki was still the best cracker I knew…)”
Jarkko got some friends at the Helsinki and Tampere Universities to start running IRC servers when his number of users increased.
Other universities soon followed. Markku Järvinen helped improving the client. At this time Jarkko realized that the rest of the BBS features probably wouldn’t fit in his program!
Jarkko got in touch with guys at the University of Denver and Oregon State University. They had got an IRC network running (they had got the program from one of Jarkko’s friends, Vijay Subramaniam — the first non-finnish person to use IRC) and wanted to connect to the finnish network. IRC then grew larger and got used on the entire Finnish national network – Funet – and then connected to Nordunet, the Scandinavian branch of the Internet. In November 1988, IRC had spread across the Internet.
In the middle of 1989, there were some 40 servers worldwide.
ircII was released 1989 by Michael Sandrof.
In July 1990, IRC averaged at 12 users on 38 servers.
In 1990, a new network was set up in order to develop a new version (2.6) of the ircd. The network named ChNet (about 25 servers and no users) existed a few months before disagreements among the programmers caused it to dissolve.
Source by Daniel Stenberg