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Guest Post

History of Domain Names

  • Release Date: October 29, 2022

What is a domain name?

A domain name is a unique name, Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) is registered in a database named WHOIS. A domain name corresponds to a unique set of numbers called an IP (Internet Protocol) address. The reason we use domain names instead of IP addresses is because they are closer to our language.It would be difficult to market a site like this: “Go to or to find the internet!” An easy way to do this is to “Visit www.Google.com or search the Internet at www.yahoo.com!” (Both Google and Yahoo are businesses marked by Google, Inc., and Yahoo, Inc., respectively).

A domain name points to a computer called a “name server”. The name server knows that your domain name matches the IP address of your web hosting server and it routes the person typing in your domain name to your web hosting server – your web site. This way people anywhere in the world can see your web site by typing in your domain name.

In 1992, the National Science Foundation awarded NSI an exclusive contract to become the sole registrar of top-level domain names. NSI also had a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Commerce (“DoC”). With no competition, consumers were at the mercy of NSI.

In 1998, NSI and DoC complied with their cooperative agreement to allow competing registrars. NSI was forced to offer domain name registration to competing registrars at wholesale prices instead of the standard $34.99 annual fee. NSI still charges $34.99 per year.

In late 1998, the DoC transferred responsibility for overseeing the transition to a competitive market for domain names and the accreditation of new registrars to a new organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

In 1999, ICANN began taking applications from companies that wanted to be registrars – and then capitalism took power: companies had to compete for business. Prices came down and service improved, though some are better than others. For a more detailed history of this infection, visit www.icann.org/registrars/accreditation-history.htm.

Despite the positive effects of competition in the domain name market, the process of Internet domain name registration remains a mystery to many.

There are many companies that want to charge you hundreds of dollars to make the simple task of registering a domain name for you. There are some registration companies that charge you $35 just to register a domain. And there are web site consultants who charge over $100 to do the work for you. But you can do it yourself in about 15 minutes and it can cost as little as $1.99 for a year. If you do some research, learn a little, and work smartly, you can save yourself some money – and some headaches.

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