In computer networking, the Name/Finger protocol and the Finger user information protocol are simple network protocols for the exchange of human-oriented status and user information.
The Name/Finger protocol, written by David Zimmerman, is based on Request for Comments document RFC 742 (December 1977) as an interface to the name and finger programs that provide status reports on a particular computer system or a particular person at network sites. The finger program was written in 1971 by Les Earnest who created the program to solve the need of users who wanted information on other users of the network. Information on who is logged-in was useful to check the availability of a person to meet. This was probably the earliest form of presence information for remote network users.
Prior to the finger program, the only way to get this information was with a who program that showed IDs and terminal line numbers (the server's internal number of the communication line, over which the user's terminal is connected) for logged-in users. Earnest named his program after the idea that people would run their fingers down the who list to find what they were looking for.