Happy Birth Day Internet: Dot Com Domain Name Turns 25 Years Today

The bubble burst wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be, and the new business models, services, innovations, and economic growth it spawned are unprecedented. Today marks the 25th birthday (silver jubilee anniversary) of the “dot com” domain name — the address that for many people defines the Internet. On March 15, 1985, a U.S. computer maker called Symbolics registered symbolics.com — the first “dot com” site.

Although Symbolics.com didn’t spark an instant gold rush, the event planted the first seed of a transformation that has changed the world into a Web-fueled digital river of news, commerce and social interaction.

Happy Birth Day Internet Dot Com Domain Name Turns 25 Years Today

The domain was slow to catch on at first. Until the mid-1990s, relatively few people had a computer and hardly anyone knew what a “dot com” was. Some of the biggest names, like Apple, registered theirs only several years after Symbolics.

Can you remember what it was like before the Internet, before .com?” said Mark McLaughlin, president and chief executive officer of VeriSign Inc. of Mountain View. “What about the next 25 years? Who can imagine that?

In 1985, only six entities registered a .com, one of six top-level domain names created a year earlier in a reorganization of the early Internet’s naming bureaucracy. At the time, .cor (short for corporate) almost beat .com as the designation for commercial Internet addresses. 7 years later, by 1992, fewer than 15,000 .com domains were registered, but the number would flourish after Web browsers brought mainstream consumers into the World Wide Web and “made it so convenient to navigate,” McLaughlin said.

Since then, .coms have defined the Internet. Now there are 84 million domain names, including 11.9 million e-commerce and online business sites, 4.3 million entertainment sites, 3.1 million finance-related sites and 1.8 million sports sites. Cyberspace has since seen the development of a myriad of suffixes, such as “dot biz” for registration of domains to be used by businesses and “dot eu” for organizations and citizens in European Union member states. There also are country-code top level domain names — for example, “dot ru” for Russia, “dot ir” for Iran, or “dot af” for Afghanistan.

If growth in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce continues to expand at even just half the pace we have seen over the last five years, the global value of e-commerce could reach $24 trillion by 2020. As businesses have adopted new products and services on the commercial Internet, ITIF estimates that the annual global economic benefits equal roughly $1.5 trillion. Granted, not all of this activity takes place through dot-com domains, but it is still substantial. ITIF estimates the dot-com-only benefits at roughly $400 million, and that figure is likely to double in the next 10 years.

I find it amusing that I was just 2 years old when world’s first “dot com” domain name was registered. What were you doing at that time? At that time did you think that internet would grow to this size that it is today?

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