Internet Relay Chat
Internet Relay Chat (commonly termed IRC) is a protocol for the real-time exchange of Internet text messages. It is designed for many-to-many communication named discussion forums (called channels), but contains features that allow one-to-one communication, as well as the ability to transfer files. The IRC protocol was formally defined by RFC 1459 in 1993.
An IRC network is a spanning tree of IRC servers, each of which may relay communications from one or more clients to the rest of the network, and vice-versa. An IRC server may choose to only accept connections from other servers, but will generally accept connections from IRC clients.
Modern hardware and low global networking latency now permit a single IRC server to handle all the clients for a specific channel.
An IRC client is software that allows interaction with the IRC network, whether it be participation in a channel, transfer of files, or using other features of IRC.