Even though we are now working with classless so-called CIDR networks, the old classification of the different address classes helps for the daily work with networks.
Address classes are used to assign network identifiers to organizations so that computers can communicate in their networks and on the Internet. Address classes also define the separation between the network and the host identifier. An organization is assigned a range of IP addresses that are referenced by the addressee's network identifier and are based on the size of the organization. For example, an organization with 200 hosts is assigned a Class C network identifier, while an organization with 20,000 hosts is assigned a Class B network identifier.
Class A addresses are assigned to networks with a large number of hosts.
This class supports 126 networks by using the first number for the network identifier. The remaining three numbers are used for the host identifier, allowing 16,777,214 hosts per network.
A → 1 - 126*
Class B addresses are assigned to medium to large networks.
This class supports 16,384 networks by using the first two numbers for the network identifier. The remaining two numbers are used for the host identifier, allowing 65,534 hosts per network.
B → 128 - 191
Class C addresses are used for small LANs (Local Area Networks).
This class supports about 2,097,152 networks by using the first three numbers for the network identifier. The remaining number is used for the host identifier, which allows 254 hosts per network.
C → 192 - 223
Classes D and E are not assigned to hosts. Class D addresses are used for multicasting, and class E addresses are reserved for future use.
D → 224 - 239
E → 240 - 255
Class based IP addressing is based on the structure of the IP address and is a systematic way to distinguish network identifiers from host identifiers. An IP address consists of four numeric sections. An IP address can be represented as w.x.y.z, where w, x, y and z stand for numbers between 0 and 255. Based on the value of the first number, w in the numeric representation, IP addresses are divided into five address classes, A,B,C,D or E.
Class D (Multicast)
Class E (reserviert)
The remaining numbers identify the host identifier.