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Zone Information Protocol

(also ZIP)

Zone Information Protocol definition

Zone Information Protocol (ZIP) is a networking tool used in AppleTalk, a suite of networking technologies developed by Apple for their computers in the 1980s. Its main purpose was to help devices on an AppleTalk network identify and locate one another.

See also: data packet, session layer

Zone Information Protocol history

Zone Information Protocol was an important component of the AppleTalk suite introduced in the 1980s. It allowed Apple devices, like Macintosh computers and printers, to communicate seamlessly within local area networks (LANs) and share resources like files and printers. However, as technology evolved, AppleTalk was phased out in favor of more modern networking protocols. Only legacy systems may use it today.

How the Zone Information Protocol works

  • When a new device joins a network, it uses ZIP to “announce” itself. This announcement or broadcast includes details like the device's name and its capabilities (like whether it's a printer or a file server).
  • Other devices on the same network pay attention to these announcements and create ZIP tables to remember who else is on the network and what services each device provides.
  • When a device wants to find a specific resource, like a printer or a shared file, it checks its ZIP table.
  • ZIP also helps set up connections. For example, when you want to print a document, ZIP lets you locate the right printer and ensures that your print job is sent to the correct place.

Today, ZIP and AppleTalk are considered outdated. Modern networks rely on protocols like TCP/IP, widely used on the internet and in most contemporary network setups.