A Brief History of Domain Names

In the earliest days of the internet there were no domain names. There were few enough servers on the internet that reaching the one you wanted by typing an IP address didn’t seem to be a problem. As the number of servers on the internet grew it became increasingly cumbersome to remember a long series of seemingly random numbers that made up each IP address. This was no longer a problem after 1984, the year that the “name server” was invented.  You no longer had to remember a long series of seemingly random numbers to reach a web server; you now could access it by a recognizable name. .com was intended for commercial sites (released in 1985) .net was intended for network sites (released in 1985) .org was intended for non-commercial organizations (released in 1985) There were other extensions to be aware of, but they didn’t come up too often: .edu is used for educational institutions, mostly post-secondary (released in 1985) .gov is used for the US government (released in 1985) As long as you remembered that the website of the White House was whitehouse.gov (as it is part of the government) and not a commercial site you were fine. (the .com is a pornographic site) Eventually all the “good” domain names were claimed and in 2000 the following top-level domains became available: .aero is used exclusively for the aviation community. (released in 2002) .biz was intended for business sites. (released in 2001) .coop is used exclusively for co-operative community. (released in 2001) .info intended for informational websites, anyone can register one. (released in 2001 ) .museum exclusively for the museum community. (released in 2001 ) .name was intended for individuals. (released in 2001) .pro was intended for professionals. (released in 2004 ) In 2003 the following were approved: .asia a regional domain  (released in 2006) .cat is used exclusively to highlight the Catalan language and culture. (released in 2005) .jobs is meant to help companies hire new employees. (released in 2005) .mobi is to be used exclusively for the mobile internet. (released in 2005) .tel was intended to be used for storing contact details. (released in 2005) .travel was intended for use by the travel industry (released in 2005) There are currently well over 100 million active registered domain names with these extensions. In addition to all these there are also country-specific domains, such as .dk for Germany, .cn for China, and .ca for Canada. When these country-specific domains are included the total number of all active domain names world-wide is astronomical. Just this past month news was released that “non-English-alphebet” domain extensions will soon be available as well. Top-level extensions of all Korean characters (for instance) will be added into the Domain Name Server (DNS) records. With so many available domain extensions to choose from and remember one has to wonder if we might have come full circle. Remembering IP numbers might be more convenient.
Posted in Domain Names, Hosting Hints by PingPipe at November 9th, 2009.
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