What is a domain name, and where did it come from? It seems that we automatically take domain names for granted. Yet, in 1985, there were only six domain names.
For those born in the early 90s and before, many hadn’t even heard of a domain name until maybe the mid-90s, when the Internet started to explode. Yet, today, there are over 265 million domain names. Every website needs to have a domain name.
Why though? What if that wasn’t a requirement? I don’t know if we can change things from the way they are now. It would certainly be an exercise in futility. Although, would you like to know the first .com domain? It is Symbolics.com, created by Symbolics Inc. on March 15, 1985. They are a computer manufacturer in Massachusetts. The company remained under the same owner until it was purchased in 2009 by XF.com Investments. The site now seems like a museum of sorts.
Although, for those alive in 1985, was anyone even thinking of a domain name? Nope. People were thinking of Atari, McDonald’s, New Wave music, shopping malls and neon. People would have thought you were from outer space if you even mentioned the word domain name back then. Not so today. Most people over the age of 10 know exactly what a domain name is.
Oh, and it used to be free. It was in 1995 that domain registration started requiring a payment. That was when the National Science Foundation allowed tech consulting company Network Solutions to charge for registration. The priced it at $100 for a two-year registration.
Why was the domain name even deployed?
In the 1980s, the Domain Name System (DNS) was designed because its predecessor, the HOSTS.TXT system, came with technical and operational constraints–to say the least. When the Internet first came into being, it was known as ARPANET. This was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which was once known as ARPA.
So, for the first decade of ARPANET, the HOSTS.TXT table file served as its directory. We all need a directory to tell us where to go, right? In addition, the HOSTS.TXT file need to be frequently updated in order to maintain contemporary information. It was also copied to and stored in every computer connected to the ARPANET. Every line in HOSTS.TXT had information such as the network address, system manufacturer and model number, supported protocols and operating system.
As increasing numbers of computers joined ARPANET, it became much more time-consuming to update the HOSTS.TXT file. Then, more opportunities for error and failure started to show up. It just could not scale. A more convenient and efficient way of referring to IP addresses was needed. And, the DNS came about.
How long it took for full conversion
Similar to any other new implementation, the issue was deployment. The decision to switchover to the DNS was actually made in September 1984. Still, complete conversion did not take place until 1987. And, to think, most people didn’t even start using the Internet until 1995. The delay in full deployment was partly due to naming conflicts. It also took longer than expected to debug the DNS. The other issue was the lack of motivation in implementing and installing DNS.
It also took time to retrofit the DNS into old operating systems that were not actively maintained. So, there is one argument that the sooner you implement your idea the better. Which, does have valuable arguments in support of this idea. Yet, how many domain names from the 1990s are still in operation? I mean, aside from the giants such as Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike, Microsoft and the like? A large number of domain names have gone up and gone down, but as you’ll see in our next section–there is big money to be made.
If you’re a squirrel, domain names are the nuts
Since we know that millions of domain names have already been registered, is there still any money in it? Of course! Are you kidding me? Absolutely! You can never tell when something will be hot or viral. Did anyone ever expect the Kardashians to be the world’s biggest reality stars? No! So, you can’t say that domain name money is long gone, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here is one example, Hanes spent $30,000 to purchase T-Shirts.store.
Then, there is Visual Dynamics who purchased 3D.software for six figures, while Autism.rocks received $100,000. Not to mention, spending six figures and more for an extension is not uncommon. Did you know that WordPress paid $19 million for the rights to .BLOG? Yes, $19 freaking million! If you wanted to buy the domain name, joe.com, you’d need a pocketbook the size of Texas. Yet, that’s not all. Google paid $25 million for .APP. Amazon paid $10 million for .BOOK.
And, Verisign paid a whopping, jaw-dropping $135 million for .WEB. I mean, wow! If you can predict the name of the president in 20 years, and have the rights to that name–in a domain such as Keith McCullough–you can easily make six figures or more to sell it. Think about that!
Domain names have come a long way, and they have a long way to go. The most exciting part is choosing your domain name. The next most exciting part is watching the money roll in.
As professional writer and editor for 7 years, Katrina Manning has written thousands of business articles under her name and as a ghostwriter. Also, she has authored and published two books, “Marmalade’s Exciting Tail” and “Lupus Obscurus” both available on Amazon.com. Follow Katrina on Twitter @kcinnaroll