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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.
The socket interface is a de facto (nonstandardized) API (application programming interface) that was originally developed in the Berkeley implementation of UNIX. A socket interface is used to access TCP/IP networking services and create connections to processes running on other hosts.
Socket APIs are what allow applications to bind with ports and IP addresses on hosts. If an application needs the services of TCP, it uses a stream socket, which provides connection-oriented, bidirectional, reliable data flows between systems. A datagram socket is used by applications that do not need TCP's reliable services. Datagram sockets go through UDP.
In the Windows environment, sockets is known as "Windows Sockets" or "WinSocks." An API similar to sockets is Microsoft's NetBT (NetBIOS over TCP/IP).
Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.