Why was port 80 chosen as the default HTTP port and 443 as the default HTTPS port?
Is there a reason or was it is just defined that way?
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The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a department of ICANN, a nonprofit private American corporation that oversees global IP address allocation, Domain Name System (DNS), well-known ports and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and numbers.
On March 1990 they published the document RFC1060 where they listed the well-known ports at that time. In that list there wasn't a protocol assigned to port 80. It went from 79 to 81:
79 FINGER Finger 81 HOSTS2-NS HOSTS2 Name Server
So, at that time port 80 was officially free.
In 1991 Tim Berners-Lee issued the first version of HTTP in a document about HTTP 0.9 where he stated:
If the port number is not specified, 80 is always assumed for HTTP.
Then in July 1992 was published RFC 1340 that obsoletes RFC 1060 where appears:
finger 79/tcp Finger finger 79/udp Finger www 80/tcp World Wide Web HTTP www 80/udp World Wide Web HTTP
That document makes official the port 80 as www or http. However there is nothing about 443 on that document.
On October 1994 appears RFC 1700 where for the first time appears this:
https 443/tcp https MCom https 443/udp https MCom # Kipp E.B. Hickman <[email protected]>
It seems was solicited by Kipp E.B. Hickman who at the time worked at Mosaic, the first GUI browser company that later becomes Netscape.
It's not clear why 443 was chosen, however the previous RFC had a gap from 374 to 512 and in this RFC the space from 375 to 451 was filled. It's very likely that the numbers were simply given in order of request.