As the internet hurtles towards maturity, the number of domain names has exploded from a mere 120,000 in 1995, to well over 220 million today. While some have been remarkable success stories in recent years, it’s important to remember the charter members of the world wide web and the path they’ve paved for us.
The year of 1985 marked the birth of the internet as we know it. Before then, there had been no way to give an official name to your web space, other than the conventional naming schemes of newsgroups and mailing lists. This all changed with the registration of the very first domain name.
Created on the 15th of March 1985, symbolics.com holds the honour of being the oldest domain name registered. Quite remarkably, the website is still active, although it was sold to XF.com Investments in August of 2009 for a fee yet to be disclosed. The original domain now hosts an infographic about the history of the internet, while the company itself trades through symbolics-dks.com.
The company behind the domain have endured a very rocky past, and no longer exist as a trading business. Today they’re owned by a private firm who have acquired Symbolics’ assets and undertaken the task of maintaining the Genera operating system in their absence.
Although once a vibrant proponent of the artificial intelligence boom in the 1980s, Symbolics suffered heavy losses in the AI Winter – a period where artificial intelligence funding was slashed due to lack of public interest. This, combined with an internal war between the founder and CEO, lead to the downfall which would eventually consume the company.
A little over a month later, BBN Technologies took ownership of the first 3-letter domain. It shouldn’t be too surprising that they were such an early adopter, though, as the company have played an instrumental part in the research and implementation of the packet switching technology which revolutionised the internet.
Of their many achievements, some of the most notable are: the transmission of the very first person-to-person email message, the first VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system, and most prominently, the fundamental role they played in the creation of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), one of the early predecessors of the world wide web.
Next was think.com, owned by the Thinking Machines Corporation. Founded in 1982, TMC had emerged as the most successful supercomputer computer manufacturer by 1990, with revenues of $65m (roughly $115m today when adjusted for inflation). This was thanks in no small part to their DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) contracts,
Equalling their meteoric rise to fame, their collapse began after DARPA were criticised in 1991 for unfairly subsidising TMC, giving them an unfair advantage against their competitors. As DARPA reacted by partially withdrawing funding, the Thinking Machines Corporation struggled to recoup profits. This lead to the CEO, Sheryl Handler, being forced out and culminated in 1994 with the company filing for bankruptcy.
Thinking of purchasing your first domain and setting up your own website, don’t forget once you have that perfect domain a good website hosting package is essential.