The now popular domain name system (DNS) can be traced back right to the time when the internet came to be. Simply put, the system is as old as the internet itself.
In this post, we look at the history of domain names and how they came to be the popular phenomena they are today.
Before the World Wide Web (www) Was Introduced
First, it was the advent of the Internet in the early 1970s which was closely followed by the introduction of email use and newsgroups.
However, these inventions brought about a new headache- it became increasingly difficult to locate computers connected on any particular network.
This prompted formation of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) in 1972. The body was set up by the US Defense Department Agency and was tasked with the responsibility of assigning unique numbers to all computers in its network.
By 1973, the use of TCP/IP network technology was commonplace as far as locating and connecting computers on a network was concerned. In fact, this communication protocol tool was adopted by other similar services that existed at the time.
A key milestone in the history of domains came in 1984 when the University of Wisconsin came up with the first ever name server. This server was capable of converting the hitherto familiar domain names into inimitable numbers.
In 1985, popular domain names extensions .com, .org, and .net were introduced. Additionally, the first domain name, symbolics.com, was registered.
However, the manufacturer to which the domain name was registered has since become non-operational.
With these several milestones, a new chapter in the domain history was began thereby opening doors to the modern internet era.
The Era of World Wide Web
With the turn of the 90s came the commercialization of the internet. The first major breakthrough came in 1991 when the World Wide Web was introduced. At the same time, the first service provider of domain services was launched. The service was tasked with the responsibility of running domain registrations and server controls. On the other hand, The National Science Foundation (NSF) helped in the regulation of domain prices while also ensuring that registrations were a bit more efficient and quicker.
In 1992, IANA and NSF formed a public-private partnership with an aim to run scalable commercial domain services. This way, it became increasingly easier for domain names registrars to be formed while businesses, organizations, and educational institutions also got more access to purchasing domain names.
In the years following the formation of partnership between IANA and NSF, a lot more changes which helped shape the domain name history came about. First, the Department of Commerce opened doors to private entities to participate in the business of registering domain names and Internet addresses.
Besides, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) body was established in the year 1998. The body was formed as a result of collaboration between various key stakeholders from all over the world. It was from here that the prices of domain name registration fell significantly. This is the reason why getting a domain name at affordable prices is now easier than ever.
Obtaining Domain Names in the 21st Century
Did you know that 196 million domain names had been registered by 2010? Well, that’s how much the internet boom of 90s and 2000s had impacted domain name registrations. Besides, a lot more developments have been seen in the 21st century such as the lifting of technical limitations that previously existed.
For example, domain registrations was somewhat a preserve of the English-speaking populations when the service was first set up in the early 90s.
However, in the late 90s and early 2000s, the service was opened to accommodate other languages including Chinese and Arabic. This so-called internationalization of domain names opened doors to more domain registrations as well as the higher number of websites created in the 21st century.
It is in the 2000s that several top-level domain extensions were introduced.
For example: .aero and .biz first came into use in the year 2000. In 2005, .travel and .jobs extensions were introduced. This trend continued and even included introduction of the controversial .xxx domain extension a few years later.
In 2010, another major milestone in the domain name registration came whereby ICANN introduced several technical recommendations as well as proof-of-concepts which were aimed at facilitating introduction of more generic top-level domain names in the market. As such, users should look forward to an introduction of more domain names extensions in the 21st century.