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Happy 30th Birthday .com!

March 24th, 2015 by

This month marks 30 years of .com! In celebration we’re looking at how domain names have shaped the web.

In March 1985 ‘symbolics.com’ became the first .com domain to be registered. Surprisingly, very few people have ever actually heard of the company, it’s certainly not on par with domains such as Apple.com or Microsoft.com in the fame stakes…

In the first two years of domain registration, only 100 domains were registered, and it wasn’t really until 1990 that domain registrations gathered momentum, shortly after the World  Wide Web sprang into being from the mind of Sir Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in Switzerland. Following this the internet took the world by storm, and .com grew with it, becoming synonymous with the internet. Websites such as Amazon.com (1995), Google.com (1997) and later Facebook.com (originallyregistered as ‘thefacebook.com’ in 2004) all began with domain name registrations, marking the beginnings of websites which have moulded our lives.

It seems obvious now why domain names became the easiest way for people to navigate around the web. Can you imagine a customer opening their browser today and typing out 173.194.113.18 to get to Google? That’s because ‘Google.com’ is actually a representation of that lengthy number, known as an IP address, and much more memorable than the digits. Your web address (in this case the Google.com) is one of over 275 million registered across the globe, forming a textual representation of the world website map.

Whilst symbolics.com may not have seemed a particularly valuable purchase in terms of global appeal (are there many ‘symbolics’ traders out there?) it will forever remain remarkable for being the first ever registration. There have, however, been many multi-million pound domain transactions over the past thirty years…

Last summer, holiday.com went to auction as what was expected to be the most expensive domain ever sold. The ‘holy grail’ of the online travel industry went under the hammer in August, and reportedly sold at a huge £20 million. ‘Holiday’ is one of the most searched for terms on the net, and so savvy travel companies around the world were willing to pay big money for the ownership of what is sure to hit a pleasant note with Google’s search engine algorithm. In a stroke of genius the domain was used during the buildup to the auction to advertise itself, its landing page contained the domain’s USPs alongside auction information and contact details (marketing inspiration, anyone?).

Our sister company Midphase researched some of the biggest .com domain name sales in history last year in this infographic, and found there were a lot of companies willing to part with a huge amount of money for the right domain! For example, the highly-desirable Insurance.com sold for almost $36 million in 2010, which is roughly the same amount as it cost to develop award winning video game Heavy Rain. In the same year Sex.com sold for a huge $14 million, which proves that that sex really does sell. For the same amount of money spent on the domain, the buyer could buy a Leopard 2HEL tank.

Over the past few years the domain game has changed. Although .com remains the undisputed king with over 115 million registrations, the thousands of top level domains (TLDs) which have been released over the past couple of years have caused a stir online. Although .com is recognised globally with millions of companies vying for visibility online, emerging businesses can struggle to secure their desired .com domain. Some of the most popular new TLDs have been geographic domains; we celebrated the launch of .London last year with Boris Johnson and Storm Models. You can check out what the Mayor of London had to say about the new TLD on our blog post here.

So what became of Symbolics? A now-defunct computer manufacturer from Massachusetts, the website is still in use and active today, although it is owned by an investment company which bought Symbolics’ assets as a vanity purchase. Despite it having no function as a company, symbolics.com remains the oldest surviving web address.

If you want to be a part of history and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the .com domain, you can grab a .com domain for half price right now over at our website.

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