Internet Infrastructure Grant Symposium

15.11.2011

istory

On March 15, 1985, Symbolics, Inc., a computer manufacturer based in Cambridge, Mass., registered symbolics.com, the world’s first .com address. Prior to this, the Internet was largely a project driven by universities and computer scientists who used the network for research and communication. As more and more people and institutions began to use the network, electronic communications became increasingly challenging. Figuring out how to manually route messages through gateways was something of an art form and often not officially sanctioned. As mail loads got heavier, sometimes postmasters would ask for people to stop using their connections.

While we know that the first .com was assigned to symbolics.com on March 15, 1985, the genesis of .com is less clear. According to Craig Partridge, chief scientist at Raytheon BBN Technologies, the name for domains evolved as the system was created. At first, .cor was proposed as the domain for corporations, but when the final version came out it was switched to .com. Likewise, .org was originally .pub, and .mil was originally .ddn. Other domains that came into being at the same time as .com were .edu, .gov, .net and .arpa.

Today, .com is an integral part of a technology boom that reshaped the way people work, live, play and connect with family and friends. "I don't recall anybody ever thinking we were creating an organizational structure to encompass hundreds of millions of entities covering the entire planet in support of all human activities," Jack Haverty, another Internet pioneer who was at MIT at the time, explained in another email. "And it certainly wasn't supposed to last for 30+ years, even as an experiment. It just happened to turn out that way."