2 min read

666: A port(al) into Doom

I wrote this in September 2018 - So good.

On the first day of my computer networking class. I found myself in a classroom full of server racks and blue networks cables snaking the floor like the giant vines in the Amazon forest. It was messy but, fit for purpose. The instructor was a professional looking, balding, middle age man who had a cheeky grin cemented on his face. After the class had introduced themselves. He paused, looked around and asked, “Does anyone know which software uses service port 666?”. There was an awkward silence, I don’t think we were ready for that type of question this early in the day. Like me, nobody else knew the answer and now we were all curious. His cheeky grin got bigger even though I thought it couldn’t and then said “Doom”. My jaw dropped and then I laughed. This was going to be a good class.

Let’s cover what an IP address is, the reason for including this is it helps set up what a port is. An IP Address is the address given to your computer or device which allows you to be found via a network or the internet, which is a large network. To make this more relatable, I’ll give an example. If a network is a city suburb, then your IP address is similar to your house address. It’s how we all know it’s you we need to find. Inside or out, your house will have a gas inlet, think of the inlet as a port. It’s how gas can be supplied to your house or software can talk to the other computers. It makes communication and gas more secure and reduces chaos.

DOOM (ID Software) registered port 666 with IANA back in the 90s. The IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) helps to regulate most types of internet communication. From what I can gather, the port registration for DOOM happened when it was ported into Microsoft Windows 95. The reason for it being ported was the game was wildly successful when it was released in 1993. Bill Gates, the Owner/CEO of Microsoft, wanted his Windows operating system to be seen as a gaming operating system.

I’m not entirely sure why it’s been left in the Windows operating system files, even up to Windows 10 (the latest Windows). Below is a screenshot of the file for you to see. It can be found here: C:WindowsSystem32driversetc the services file has the information. It can be opened with the standard text document software. But, be careful! Don’t make any changes to it.

This is a piece of gaming history that shows how games have influenced Microsoft, which depending on the day, is the biggest company in the world. I’m unsure who asked for the port registration, but it was either Bill or the main game developers at ID Software at the time, it was probably ID software. If anyone knows more info, or who registered the port, please email me.