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A class C network is the most common of the five computer network classes, designated as A through E, in classful network network addressing architecture. The class designations were based on the split of 32 bits required for an IP address, the first four of which indicated the address classe in binary code:
The classful network architecture was used from 1981 to 1993, when classless inter-domain routing (CIDR) was introduced. This new architecture’s goal was to decrease the rapid growth of routing tables on routers throughout the Internet and slow the inevitable depletion of IPv4 addresses.
Although the classful network and the class C network designation were discontinued, network administrators and IT personnel still occasionally make reference to them. Some hardware and software components may also reference them.
The classful network originally used a 32-bit IPv4 address, which only supported 254 independent networks. With a few large networks, such as Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) and the proliferations of local area networks in the early to mid-1980s, it soon became apparent that more addresses would be needed. This is why the classful network methodology was adopted, allowing the following number of networks for each of five classes: