Every website has its own domain name.
Today it is much easier to purchase a domain name than it was when they were introduced in the eighties.
Domain names have two parts, the top level domain (TDL) and the second level domain (SLD). For example myamazingwebsite.com, the ‘.com’ is the TLD and the ‘myamazingwebsite’ is the SLD.
The first computers were connected by the military in the 1960’s over wide area networks, this was when the need for unique identities began. IP addresses then appeared in the 1970’s. The IP or internet protocol, is a list of numbers – like an address, that takes you to a desired page.
With numbers of network users increasing dramatically, a simpler system was needed. Enter the more user-friendly DNS (Domain Name System). Created in 1984 at the University of Wisconsin, the DNS system allowed IP numbers to be given names.
Website addresses could now be used, consisting of words no longer numbers.
Now websites had actual names, a standard had to be agreed. Seven top level were introduced in 1985: GOV, EDU, COM, MIL, ORG, NET and INT.
The first commercial name to be registered was Symbolics.com in 1985, to begin with registration of a domain name was free, and the number of names increased throughout the 80’s. By 1992 15,000 dot.com domains were registered.
The following years saw online commercial activity boom and registration of domain names became a paid for service.
The ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) was set up shortly after, a non-profit regulatory body. They were designed to make sure healthy competition between organisations in the domain registration industry, which is massive – today more than 19 million names are registered.
Present day domains sell for millions, in 2010 sex.com was sold for $13 million.
Choosing your own domain name can be tricky, for example the website for Who Represents was named: whorepresents.com, and for the Therapists’ Network: therapistfinder.com
What does the future hold for domain names? Even with over 19million addresses available in 2011, the demand is still not satisfied. ICANN is now giving organisations the opportunity to have a top domain of their own deciding. At the price of $185,000 per name it’s not cheap, but is still likely to take off with large organisations. Soon we could be seeing such websites as ‘windows.microsoft’ and ‘iPhone.apple’.