Classful IP Addressing
When IP was first standardized in September 1981, the specification
required that each system attached to an IP based Internet be assigned
a unique, 32 bit Internet address value. Systems that have interfaces to
more than one network require a unique IP address for each network
interface. The first part of an Internet address identifies the network on
which the host resides, while the second part identifies the particular
host on the given network. This creates the two level addressing hierar 
chy that is illustrated in Figure 3. 
F I G U R E   3 .   Tw o   L e v e l   I n t e r n e t   A d d re s s   S t r u c t u re
In recent years, the network number field has been referred to as the
network prefix because the leading portion of each IP address identifies
the network number. All hosts on a given network share the same net 
work prefix but must have a unique host number. Similarly, any two
hosts on different networks must have different network prefixes but
may have the same host number. 
Primary Address Classes
To provide the flexibility required to support networks of varying sizes,
the Internet designers decided that the IP address space should be
divided into three address classes Class A, Class B, and Class C. This is
often referred to as classful addressing. Each class fixes the boundary
between the network prefix and the host number at a different point
within the 32 bit address. The formats of the fundamental address
classes are illustrated in Figure 4. 
F I G U R E   4 .   P r i n c i p l e   C l a s s f u l   I P A d d re s s   F o r m a t s






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