History of Domain Names – Infographic

Today’s article is on History. But before you let out a yawn, let me assure you that it’s going to be most interesting with lots of fun facts.

Now, you probably know a lot about domain names from many of our previous articles e.g. choosing a great domain name and securing your domain names from domain thieves. But do you know the history behind domain names?

History of Domain Names Infographic

History of Domain Names - infographic

Let’s discuss each section of the infographic in detail. Read the following by referencing to the infographic above.

Domain names have long been used as an alphanumerical identification for a website’s address. It is both a unique web address as well as your website’s name.

Here’s a brief history on the Internet and domain names:

1969 Arpanet, the world’s first computer network, was first created by connecting 4 host computers.
1977 The world’s first modern PC was developed.
1978 First recorded use of email spam. Yup, net abuse has existed more than 30 years ago and still going strong.
1982 First recorded use of an emoticon. :-)
1984 Domain Name System (DNS) was created.
1985 6 generic top-level domains (gTLD) was introduced i.e. .com / .edu / .gov / .mil / .net / .org
2000 7 generic TLD wereadded i.e. .aero / .biz / .coop / .info / .museum / .name / .pro

Anatomy of a URL

So what is a URL then? Is it the same as domain name? Well, not exactly. Referring to the infographic, the URL is your website’s address. Similar to your house address, it has many parts to it. Domain name is one of these parts.

Take for example an SEO-friendly URL: http://www.website.com/page/domain.htm

URL Part Part’s Name Description
http:// Hypertext transfer protocol Indicates how information is sent
www.website.com Host/hostname Website address
www Sub domain www stands for world wide web
website.com Domain name Your website address
com Domain extension Top level domain (TLD)
/page Directory Serves as a folder where files are kept
/domain.htm File Name of the file on the host
htm File extension Indicates the file type

Top-Level Domains

You have probably come across the word top-level domain or TLD for short. It is the highest level of the Domain Name System (DNS) and is found at the very last part of your domain name. It is also identified as your domain extension. There are a few different types of TLDs but the most common ones on the Internet are:

  1. Generic top-level domains (gTLD)

    gTLD was designed for specific type of industry or organization. Back in 1985, the first 6 generic domains were introduced i.e. .com / .edu / .gov / .mil / .net / .org and they provided the relevant domains for corporations, schools, government, the military, networks and non-profit organizations.

    Subsequently, 7 generic TLD were added namely .aero / .biz / .coop / .info / .museum / .name / .pro to cater for the air transport industry, businesses, cooperatives, informational websites, museums, families and professionals.

    However, do note that this is not strictly followed. For example, a company might register for both .com and .net.

  2. Country-code top-level domains (ccTLD)

    ccTLD is generally used for industry and organizations in a certain country. Again, this is sometimes not adhered to. For example, “.is” is the ccTLD for Iceland but is used to resemble the word “is” as in who.is.

    The most popular ccTLD based on total registered on January 21, 2013 is .us (for United States) with almost 80 million domain name counts! Check the above infographic for more facts and figures.

Rise of the Dot-Com Empire

Over the years, there’s one TLD that’s proven to be more popular than others. The .com domain extension has outperformed all other TLDs with 102.7 million registered owners in 2012. That’s almost half of the total 220 million registered domain names.

The nearest competitor is .net with a non-threatening 14.7 million registered owners. The number of .com domain names is still growing strong but not as fast as it used to. Annual growth currently is about 10% compared to almost 40% back in 2006. This is because it’s becoming more difficult to find a good .com domain name that’s unregistered.

Wondering if it’s possible to create your own TLD e.g. “.jasmine“? Well, sure, ICANN allows it and it can be in any word you like. But the question to ask is just how much does it cost to do so. There’s the $185,000 for application fee to be paid upfront and then there’s $25,000 yearly renewal fee. Right to create or waste of money?Hmmm…

Most Expensive Domain Names

Over the Internet, branding is crucial. This is reflected in companies willing to part millions of dollars just to obtain the domain name they wanted e.g. like how Toys ‘R Us was willing to pay $5.1 million for toys.com. Even this was not the most expensive domain sale!

insure.com – $16 million (2009)

Currently the most expensive domain sale award goes to insure.com for a whopping $16 million in 2009! Quinstreet who bought it offers life, car and health insurance quotes in case you are curious.

sex.com – $14 million (2006)

Sex sells and even in domain names, this rings true! Sex.com was reportedly sold for $14 million back in 2006, earning them the 2nd most expensive domain name sale in the Guiness Book of World Records.

fund.com – $10 million

Then there’s fund.com which was sold for almost $10 million to Eastern Services Group, porn.com for what was estimated to be a minimum of $9.5 million and business.com for $7.5 million.

Isn’t it interesting to note that all the above are .com TLDs? Annually, domain name sales rings up approximately $250 million in sales across the world. Some buyers went on to make good money from having an easy to remember domain name. Others held the domain names till they can find the highest bidder while some are regretting the risk they took. So if you are thinking of going into the business of reselling domain names, well our advice is don’t quit your day job just yet!

Top Domain Name Registrars

But if you are wondering where you can do a domain name search or who to register your domain name(s) with, then I’m able to help. Domain names are registered with domain name registration companies (registrars) and web hosting companies. Some of them even offer domain names for free with their web hosting plans. A couple of recommended web hosts who offers free domain name are Bluehost and WebhostingHub.

Statistics have shown that the top ICANN accredited domain name registrars are as follows. The number in [ ] is the total number of domain names registered.

  • No. 1 = GoDaddy [34.2 million]
  • No. 2 = eNom [9.1 million]
  • No. 3 = tucows [7.1 million]
  • No. 4 = schlund-partner [4.8 million]

How’s that for a quick history on domain names? Have I missed out anything? Did you enjoy the article and like the domain name infographic? Would you like to read more of such topics in the future? Do share your thoughts and ideas.