The Early Days
When the Internet first began, domain names as we now known them didn’t really exist. Although alphabetical names were introduced with the first incarnation of the Internet – ARPANET – they weren’t the familiar .com or .net names used on the web today. For the most part, only Government departments, major libraries and institutes of higher education were connected to the embryonic Internet; users were scientists, engineers and other highly-skilled people. Very few ordinary people even knew about the Internet.
Standardization and Expansion
As the various protocols used for electronic communication were standardized, it became easier for people to use the Internet without extensive training and study. As the number of websites grew from a tiny handful, new ways of naming and categorizing them needed to be devised.
The First Top Level Domains
In 1985, the first TLDs or top level domains were introduced: .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net and.org. The first ever .com registered was Symbolics.com, which was bought by Symbolics Computing. The domain is still live even though the company no longer owns it; today, it’s an Internet history site. More followed but in 1985 there were only five commercial websites.
As the Internet grew, more countries became involved. To cope with the influx of new registrations and to help distinguish between sites from different nations, new TLDs were introduced. These included national domains such as .co.uk for UK websites.
The Present Day
Today, the Internet has expanded far beyond anything that 1985’s users could possibly have imagined. More and more domain names have been registered; while it’s hard to give an exact figure, some sources put the number of registered domains at over 225 million.
We’re written about the future of domains a few times lately but things will greatly change when the new TLDs featuring professional and industry related extensions. If a lawyer were to create a new website today, with the hopes of getting a .com domain, they would have a difficult time finding one; however, in the near future with .lawyer becoming available, it wouldn’t be as hard.