Reseaux IP Europeens (RIPE), (translated as "European IP Networks") is a forum where a community of interested persons / parties can discuss the technical development of the European architecture of the Internet. RIPE was founded in 1989 and has it's headquarters located at 258 Singel, Amsterdam (pictured below). RIPE meetings are held in a similar manner to IETF meetings: held 2-3 times a year, volunteers from various technical sectors and the general public meet to discuss and plan the evolution of RIPE's activities (policy development etc), which is organised into working groups (like IETF). RIPE meetings are organised and overseen by a 'chair', but there is no formal members of RIPE, it's fluid volunteer arrangement. Alongside the RIPE meetings, a mailing list is published to discuss ongoing RIPE working group activities.
(Pictured: RIPE offices in Amsterdam, Holland)
RIPE founded a separate organisation to provide administrative/technical support: Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC). It is RIPE NCC who manages the assignment of AS and IP number blocks, a routing registry, database. root name server (k-root server), and the ENUM zone. RIPE NCC has a more formal structure compared to RIPE, with an executive board, members and staff. The legal standing for RIPE NCC operation is provided by Dutch law. Stewardship for RIPE NCC's activities is provided by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA); in the hierarchy of authority for assigning Internet numbers, IANA supersedes RIPE, but it does not interfere in RIPE's activities in an overbearing manner.
In the 1980's the governments of Europe were largely opposed to the adoption of the IP networking model for their government funded computer networks. TCP/IP was funded and developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970's and 1980's. The inventors of TCP/IP were Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. European governments typically favoured the adoption of the ISO networking standard. Therefore, in the 1970's and 1980's, there were very few IP (Internet Protocol) networks in Europe, and no overall organisation to manage the development of IP networks in Europe. The 1980's are often referred to - within computer networking communities - as the 'protocol wars era': as the IP and ISO protocol models vied for supremacy.
CERN were one of the first large scale European research organisations to adopt TCP/IP; in or around 1983. Due to the expansion of IP networks in Europe (CERN et al) by the mid 1980's - such as EU-net, HEP-net, NORDU-net, SURF-net, and XLINK - the Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Research Network (CCIRN) began holding meetings to discuss network interoperable and interconnection. This meetings of this committee were attended by the key people who built and operated the most important European and North American computer networks. One of the early topics of these meetings was how to organise the interconnection of continental (European and North American) IP networks. One of the conclusions of the early CCIRN meetings (held in Washington and Geneva in 1987-1988) was that a European organisation was needed to manage the assignment of Internet numbers for Europe.
The most important CCIRN meeting, according to Francois Flückiger (head of CERN's external network), was held in West Virginia in October 1988. Francois Flückiger and Vint Cerf (TCP/IP inventor) attended this meeting and Cerf is quoted as saying the following: "It is essential that you, the Europeans, set up a structure to allocate internet addresses in Europe. It is not good we keep doing it for you." Francois Flückiger convened a meeting at CERN in December 1988, other attendees included: Rob Blockzijl, Mats Brunel, Daniel Karrenberg, Enzo Valente, and Olivier Martin. Six months later, as a direct result of these meetings, the first RIPE meeting was held on the 22nd of May, 1989. RIPE quickly founded (1992) the RIPE Network Coordination Center (NCC) to handle/support the technical/administrative tasks of the RIPE working groups.