Where did domain names come from?
The Domain Name System
The ‘domain name system’ (DNS) – which begins our tale of the history of domains – started shortly after the creation of the world wide web itself. The young internet in the 1960s’ – ‘Arpanet’ – allowed several computers to connect through it, and as this number grew, a need for a form of identification was born. In this article we will explore the birth of the IP address and how it evolved into domain names. We will also investigate the domain name system itself, as it seems to open the doors to some serious security issues.
The birth of IP Addresses
As the number of computers connecting to the young internet increased in the 1970s the US Defence Information Systems Agency created the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). IANA assigned a unique number to every computer connected to the internet identifying the location of any device at any time: the IP address was born. As the number of computers connecting to the web increased – and also in turn the number of IP addresses – it became increasingly more difficult to distinguish these long numbers. In 1984 a team at the University of Wisconsin developed the first ‘name server’. The name server allowed the identification of a connected device without knowing its exact numerical path. This gave rise to the domain name system, or DNS, which converted 123.456.789.1 into thisisadomain.com!
Name servers and TLDs
Then along came 1991, the year where the world wide web became commercial thanks to Tim Berners-Lee and CERN. This was also the year the registration of domains became accessible to the public. The registration itself became free thanks to the National Science Foundation, but due to exponential demand InterNIC was created to manage the registration process. They initially charged $100 per registration of a domain name.
In 1998, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) was formed to “coordinate the technical management of the Internet’s domain name system, the allocation of IP address space, the assignment of protocol parameters, and the management of the root server system.” In 1999 ICANN introduced a set of technical standards to allow the registration of non-Latin script language domain names such as Chinese and Arabic.
As the number of registered domains grew, the idea of top-level domains (TLDs) was introduced to give a sorting method to the pool of names. TLDs were grouped by “country, category and multi-organisations”. In 1984 seven TLDs were officially named: .com, .info, .net, .org, .biz, .name and .pro. Some interesting facts: There are 13 root servers which support all of the internet communication owned by 12 companies. VeriSign commands two of those servers, and their total .com registrations equals over 34 million.
As the history of domains continues to unfold, the concept of domain names is no longer a simple necessity of computer identification, but rather it has evolved into a form of brand or personality profile. Nowadays we immediately react to a domain name as it gives us a first impression of what the brand is about, its personality and originality, and that becomes its calling card. You can check out this blog post to find out more about how a domain name can represent your business or personal self.
Modern domain names
Today there are over 1000 domain name options available for registration, following a roll out of industry specific and miscellaneous web address endings. You can now register domain names from .guru to .plumber, increasing the opportunity for businesses and individuals alike to use their domain name to stand out from the crowd.
Register your very own domain name and check out some of the newer options over on our domain name registration page!