Domain Name Industry | History, facts, figures (2024)

Table of Contents
Why understand the evolution of the domain industry? Navigation through time: History of the domain industry 1958 – The ARPA was established 1969 – ARPANET 1969 – First message sent via the ARPANET 1969 – Inception of the RFC format 1971: The first email was sent 1973: The development of TCP/IP Robert E. Kahn (23 December 1938) Vinton Cerf (23 June 1943) 1981 – The need for a hierarchical namespace 1 January 1983: ARPANET officially switched to TCP/IP 1983 – The emergence of the Domain Name System Paul Mockapetris (18 November 1948) Where did the concept of DNS originate? 1984 – First six TLDs available 1 January 1985 – nordu.net 1985 – DARPA pushes users to use DNS addresses 1985 – DNS management is assigned to SRI Elizabeth Feinler (2 March 1931) 1985 – First ccTLDs enter the namespace 1985 – The first .com domain in history 1986 – Domain name registrations went public 1988 – .int was created 1988 – IANA was founded Jon Postel (6 August 1943 – 16 October 1998) 6 August 1991 – HTTP 1990s – The subdomain www becomes standard Tim Berners-Lee (8 June 1955) September 1991 – NSI manages the DNS April 1992- RIPE NCC was created 1995 – A domain name registration has a price 1995 – The first SSL version 1996 – DENIC eG was founded 15 September 1996 – google.com was registered 1997 – Saturation of .com domains with three letters 1997 – The role of domains in SEO 1998 – DNS privatization 30 September 1998 – ICANN was founded 1998 – InterNetX was founded 1999 – Launch of Sedo.com 1999 – The launch of TLS December 1999 – First commercial IDN 2000 – Verisign acquires legacy gTLDs March 2000 – Dot-com bubble 2003 – First act again domain abuse 2005 – DNSSEC 2009 – The rise of blockchain May 2010 – First internationalized ccTLDs February 2011 – IPv4 address exhaustion April 2012 – Record-breaking domain name registrations 6 June 2012 – IPv6 launch day 2012 – The new gTLD program 2013 – .com saturation with four letters 2016 – New ICANN transfer policy 30 September 2016 – IANA stewardship transition October 2018 – DNS queries over HTTPS (DoH) 11 October 2018 – KSK rollover 2018 – GDPR 26 October 2018 – New agreement for .com 26 August 2019 – Implementation of RDAP 2019 – The most expensive domain sold 2020 – Ensuring DNS safety amidst the pandemic 2023 – DNS abuse mitigation 2023 – NIS2 Directive To be continued… No spam. Just quality content.

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Rome wasn't built in a day – and neither was the internet! Embark on a captivating voyage through the history of the domain name industry with InterNetX.

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Domain Name Industry | History, facts, figures (2)

Simone Catania

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2024/06/01

Domain Name Industry | History, facts, figures (3)

The internet as we know it today is a complex system of interconnected networks, a prodigious world born from the humble beginnings of ARPANET. While ARPANET was the cornerstone of the internet, the creation of the Domain Name System (DNS) took the innovation a step further. The DNS laid the foundation for a more user-friendly, diverse and collaborative internet, making the intricate system of networks accessible and navigable to everyday users.

Have you ever stopped to wonder about the history of the domain industry? Introducing domain names through the DNS revolutionized how we interact with digital content. Domain names brought the information within our grasp, associating simple and understandable words like ‘internetx.com’ with Internet protocol (IP) addresses — long numeric strings.

Why understand the evolution of the domain industry?

As we navigate the digital era, domain names have become integral to the internet’s architecture. Generic top-level domains (gTLDs), country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and new gTLDs emerged after DNS’s creation, marking the blossoming of the field we now know as the domain industry. Today, we count over 1,500 domain extensions catering to every geographic area, business, hobby and activity. These small yet potent elements fuel an industry that works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure our internet experience remains smooth and seamless, displaying the dynamic domain industry’s evolution and importance.

DNS (short for Domain Name System) is a pivotal part of the internet’s infrastructure that translates domain names into IP addresses. It was conceived in 1983 by Paul Mockapetris and Jon Postel from the University of Southern California as part of the larger ARPANET project. Today, governed by the worldwide organization ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), DNS has become the standard for website address translation enabling internet users to connect to websites using human-readable names, instead of numeric IP addresses.

Understanding domain history gives us a glimpse into the complex and fascinating evolution of the internet. It offers context into why we view domains the way we do and why they are integral to the business and online world. What started as a simple way to navigate servers in the ’70s has since exploded into a lucrative industry instrumental to branding in the 21st century.

Navigation through time: History of the domain industry

Welcome to a thrilling chapter of the digital world—the ongoing history of the domain industry!

Today’s internet results from nearly 40 years of persistent research, advanced technologies and international cooperation. A key element in this technology revolution – the ‘domain name’ – continues to steer our online journeys even today. Behind this intricate system, a collective of dedicated organizations and professionals work to ensure a smooth, secure and sustainable digital landscape.

We invite you to embark on an exploration of the evolution of the domain name industry. We’ve encapsulated the most impactful milestones, from emerging trailblazing technologies to establishing internet-centric corporations and industry-defining breakthroughs.

So, sit tight and prepare to rewind the clock on this journey through the history of the domain industry. Let’s begin!

1958 – The ARPA was established

On 7 January 1958, US President Eisenhower sought financial support to launch the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The request was part of the United States’ response to the Soviet Union’s progress during the Space Race. By early 1958, ARPA was officially established. This agency was responsible for spearheading research and development projects to extend the boundaries of technology and science, going beyond immediate military needs. On 23 March 1972, it was renamed DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

1969 – ARPANET

The ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was developed as a computer network enabling different research institutions to collaborate and share resources. This innovation laid the foundation for the development of the internet and significantly impacted the future of computer networking.

1969 – First message sent via the ARPANET

On 29 October 1969 marked a pivotal moment in digital communication: ARPANET, the precursor to the internet, sent its first message. This first wide-area packet-switching network used TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), sparking a revolution in data transmission by splitting data into individually addressed packets. ARPANET, starting with a four-node network, fostered technological innovations (like email and file-sharing) until its conversion to the modern internet in 1990. Hence, on 29 October 1969, the digital revolution was inaugurated, transforming our lives forever.

1969 – Inception of the RFC format

The Request for Comments (RFC) system was invented by Steve Crocker in 1969 to help record unofficial notes on the development of ARPANET. Today, it’s the main way the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the worldwide group of computer network scientists share their work about DNS.

1971: The first email was sent

The first email sent by Ray Tomlinson, American computer scientist. This inaugural system allowed sending mail to users on different hosts connected to ARPANET. Before this, one could only email others using the same computer. The iconic @ sign, ubiquitous in modern email addresses, was his chosen symbol to partition the local part from the domain, a convention that continues today.

The @ symbol, also known as the “at sign,” has a rich history that started long before the advent of email. It was used to denote the price per unit of goods, for example, “3 apples @ $1, ” meaning 3 apples at $1 each. In 1971, Ray Tomlinson selected this relatively underused symbol as the connector in electronic mail addresses while working on the ARPANET. Its use was intended to represent the idea of “at,” providing a way for messages to be directed “user” at “host,” a revolutionary development that helped shape contemporary digital communication.

1973: The development of TCP/IP

In 1973, a significant turning point in the history of the internet was marked by the pioneering work of Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf. Recognized as two of the “fathers of the internet,” their combined efforts led to the development of the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), a suite of communication protocols used to interconnect network devices, where each device (host) is assigned a unique IP address which is valid on a particular network and specifies how data should be packaged, transmitted, routed and received at its destination.

Robert E. Kahn (23 December 1938)

Renowned as the co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols, Khan’s work constitutes the backbone of today’s internet. His technological advancements helped establish the open architecture networking model, rendering internet communication versatile and robust. Kahn has profoundly influenced modern digital communications, fostering cryptographic standards, digital libraries and data interoperability.

Vinton Cerf (23 June 1943)

Known as the “father of the internet,” he co-designed the TCP/IP protocols that serve as the foundation for data transmission over the internet. Beyond this, Cerf significantly contributed to the initial design of the ARPANET and its transformation to the modern internet. He also led efforts for data networks to become an integral part of the public service infrastructure, promoting access and inclusivity. Currently, he is Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, contributing to global policy development and the continued standardization and spread of the internet.

1981 – The need for a hierarchical namespace

RFC 799, titled “Internet Name Domains,” published in 1981, made a significant proposal towards implementing a hierarchical namespace for the internet to manage the enormous number of IP addresses in an organized manner. A hierarchical system allows domain names to be unique and easy to remember and for an organized, efficient and scalable method to identify services and devices across the internet. Such a structure, capable of scaling with growth, eventually evolved into the DNS.

1 January 1983: ARPANET officially switched to TCP/IP

On this day, the ARPANET, the global network’s initial ancestor, formally switched to TCP/IP. This historical flag day required all ARPANET nodes and interfaces to be shut down and restarted across the network. It introduced a standard that allowed multiple independent networks to communicate with each other, thereby opening up the possibilities for a truly global and interconnected network.

TCP/IP is fundamental to the domain industry, as it forms the backbone of any data exchange over the internet, including the domain name resolution process. The interface between domain names and IP addresses, central to the DNS operation, relies on TCP/IP protocols to ensure accurate communication and data transfer across the internet. Backed by the universal standards provided by TCP/IP, the domain industry can operate efficiently and contribute to the globally interconnected network that the internet has become.

1983 – The emergence of the Domain Name System

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the essential naming system we use for the internet. Born out of necessity due to the rapidly expanding network, the DNS was designed by a group including Jon Postel, Paul Mockapetris, and Craig Partridge. The concept was published in RFC 882 in November 1983 as a distributed directory service because using a single hostname registry was almost impossible. The DNS allowed the deployment of the first domains on ARPANET.

Paul Mockapetris (18 November 1948)

Paul Mockapetris is a pivotal figure in the development of the internet as we know it today, due primarily to his invaluable contributions in creating the Domain Name System (DNS). In 1983, while he was a researcher at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute, Mockapetris developed the DNS as a solution to the issues that arose from the scaling and complexity of the early internet. He pioneered the DNS structure, wherein easy-to-remember domain names are mapped to numerical IP addresses, simplifying navigating the burgeoning internet landscape. In addition, Mockapetris penned several RFCs, including RFC 882 and RFC 883, that effectively set forth the standard for DNS, thereby playing an instrumental role in shaping the internet’s infrastructure.

Where did the concept of DNS originate?

The idea for the Domain Name System (DNS) originated as a solution to address scalability issues with the early internet. In the initial stages of the internet, each network computer (or host) needed its unique name. This list of names was managed centrally and was distributed as a file known as HOSTS.TXT. As the network grew, this system became increasingly cumbersome and impracticable. Internet pioneer Paul Mockapetris recognized this problem and proposed the DNS as a hierarchical, distributed database system 1983. The DNS allowed the internet to scale because it automatically translated human-readable domain names into the numerical IP addresses necessary for routing data across the internet. This solution was much more manageable and easy to scale, allowing for the internet’s worldwide expansion. The DNS was designed to turn the internet into a more accessible and user-friendly environment.

1984 – First six TLDs available

In October 1984, only six top-level domains were available: .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, and .mil. In the RFC 920 “Domain requirements” the purpose of a domain is described for the first time: “Domains are administrative entities. The purpose and expected use of domains is to divide the name management required of a central administration and assign it to sub-administrations.”

1 January 1985 – nordu.net

On this notable date, nordu.net stamps its name as the oldest domain still in active use today. Established as a root server, nordu.net was born from a collaborative effort to create a research and education network amongst the 5 Nordic countries. The network, aptly named NORDUnet, harnessed this domain, marking it the most long-lasting active registered domain in history. Today, nordu.net takes on a new role and serves as the digital façade to NORDUnet’s corporate website.

1985 – DARPA pushes users to use DNS addresses

In 1985, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiated a significant push urging internet users to adopt the DNS for addressing. This action came at a crucial time in the evolution of the internet, as the prior system, relying on a simple HOSTS.TXT file for mappings, began to show signs of strain due to the expanding network. DARPA’s push demonstrated an understanding of the necessity for a more structured and scalable system, which DNS provided.

1985 – DNS management is assigned to SRI

In 1985, the Defense Communications Agency (DCA) and DARPA made a significant decision regarding managing the DNS and assigned this task to the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). The appointment of DNS management to the SRI facilitated the transition of the internet from a limited-use, government and academic resource into a global communication tool.

Elizabeth Feinler (2 March 1931)

Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler was instrumental in developing the first ARPANET directory, a precursor to the modern internet. By 1974, she was the principal investigator who helped plan and run the new Network Information Center (NIC) for the ARPANET at the SRI. Her group became the naming authority of the internet, developing and managing the name registries of .mil, .gov, .edu, .org, and .com. Even the names of the TLDs, based on generic categories such as .com were suggestions of the NIC team. Through these efforts, Feinler laid a significant portion of the groundwork for today’s Internet structure, particularly in domain naming conventions.

1985 – First ccTLDs enter the namespace

The first country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) was .us. Later that year .uk and .il joined. Creation and delegation of ccTLDs are described in RFC 1591, corresponding to ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country codes. Each country’s domain name organization sets the rules for their ccTLDs.

1985 – The first .com domain in history

On 15 March 1985, the first ever .com domain was registered. Symbolics Inc., a computer company based in Massachusetts, USA, achieved this groundbreaking milestone by registering symbolics.com. As time passed, the ownership of this domain name changed hands and today, this domain serves as an online museum. This virtual treasure trove showcases the intriguing journey of the internet and the World Wide Web, allowing visitors to explore and appreciate their remarkable stories. Domains under .com soon became the most registered TLD worldwide.

In 1995, domain prices began at 100 US dollars for a two-year registration.

These are the first 10 registered domain names

15 March 1985 – symbolics.com
24 April 1985 – bbn.com
24 May 1985 – think.com
11 July 1985 – mcc.com
30 September 1985 – dec.com
7 November 1985 – northrop.com
9 January 1986 – xerox.com
17 January 1986 – sri.com
3 March 1986 – hp.com
5 March 1986 – bellcore.com

1986 – Domain name registrations went public

Before 24 February 1986, domain name registration was exclusive, with only organizations connected to the ARPANET able to register a domain name. On 24 February, domain name registrations opened to the public, paving the way for businesses and individuals to establish their digital presence. This breakthrough significantly contributed to the start of the history of the domain industry, as more people could now register domains for their websites.

1988 – .int was created

The TLD .int is a sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) and was created in 1988 in response to a request from NATO, which sought a domain reflecting the nature of international organizations. As stated in RFC 1591, IANA has a policy that reserves .int domains for global organizations. These include entities with treaties, United Nations agencies and observer-status bodies at the UN. Thus, .int has the most rigid application policies of all TLDs. Each organization is permitted to register only once under this domain. Additionally, there is no cost associated with registering an .int domain name.

EU organizations used to use the eu.int domain. They switched to the .eu domain on 9 May 2006, the Europe Day.

1988 – IANA was founded

1988 saw the formation and formal funding of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) by DARPA. The role of the IANA is crucial in organizing and maintaining various elements of internet operation. These include allocating IP addresses and root zone management in the DNS. The funding and establishment of IANA signaled DARPA’s recognition of the importance of having a centralized body to manage these critical aspects of the burgeoning internet.

Jon Postel (6 August 1943 – 16 October 1998)

Jon Postel had a keen understanding of the growing complexities of the early internet and, hence, worked closely with the team headed by Paul Mockapetris on the initial design and implementation of DNS. Beyond DNS, he served as the editor of the RFC series and contributed extensively to drafting key RFCs or internet standard documents, including RFC 920, which defined top-level domains. Postel’s work laid the foundation for the IANA.

6 August 1991 – HTTP

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) was first proposed in RFC 1945 by Tim Berners-Lee. It took advantage of DNS to connect users effortlessly to web pages across the internet rapidly. The inception of HTTP led to the rapid co-evolution of HTML specifications, a new type of software known as a “web browser” and the swift rise of the consumer-oriented public internet infrastructure.

1990s – The subdomain www becomes standard

The exact date of the first use of the www subdomain is not officially documented, but this practice started to become widely adopted with the emergence of the World Wide Web (WWW) in the early ’90s. The www is not a requirement, but it became a web convention to identify that a particular domain hosts a web server. It’s now standard practice for site owners to configure their DNS settings to resolve their domain name with and without the ‘www’ subdomain to a web server.

Tim Berners-Lee (8 June 1955)

Tim Berners-Lee is widely recognized as the inventor of the World Wide Web, which includes the creation of HTTP, the foundation for any data exchange on the web and a protocol for transmitting hypermedia documents like HTML. It’s crucially linked with DNS, which helps translate readable domain names into IP addresses, enabling HTTP to function efficiently. He continues to advocate for an open and accessible web, emphasizing the importance of privacy, security, and neutrality.

September 1991 – NSI manages the DNS

Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) was appointed to operate the DNS under a subcontract with the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). NIS gave TLDs and IP address blocks for free.

April 1992- RIPE NCC was created

RIPE NCC (Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre) was conceived following a call to establish an organization for coordinating and administering IP addressing. The initiative came from European network operators and their leading American counterparts. This global need for IP coordination necessitated formalizing an organized structure, leading to a regional internet registry (RIR) for Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

1995 – A domain name registration has a price

Before September 1995, anyone wishing to register a domain name could do so for free. In the early days of the domain industry, the National Science Foundation (NSF) shouldered the costs of registering all domain names. That changed when the NSF allowed Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) to charge an annual fee of $ 50 for domain name registration due to the rising number of commercial domain name registrations (97% out of the total).

1995 – The first SSL version

Netscape designed and released the first usable version of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols to secure web browsing over an insecure network. These encryption certificates enable a secure, encrypted connection between a user’s browser and a domain, ensuring the authenticity and identity of websites with those particular domain names.

1996 – DENIC eG was founded

1996 marked the establishment of DENIC eG. It performs critical operations and various management services for .de, the German ccTLD.

15 September 1996 – google.com was registered

The world’s most famous search engine registered its domain google.com on this date. Today, it is the most visited website ever.

1997 – Saturation of .com domains with three letters

1997 was the year that all possible combinations of .com domain names consisting of three letters were officially registered, meaning there were no more unique three-letter .com domains available. This occurrence underscored the rapid global digital expansion and the mounting competition for concise and memorable domain identities under this gTLD.

1997 – The role of domains in SEO

The first recorded usage of the acronym SEO (search engine optimization) dates back to 1997. It has revolutionized the digital landscape, emphasizing optimizing websites for search engine visibility. From now on, domain names began playing a crucial role in SEO, as a valuable domain could significantly impact a website’s search engine ranking. The relationship between domains and SEO has since co-evolved, shaping the future of internet navigation and accessibility.

1998 – DNS privatization

Under President Clinton’s initiative, the US Department of Commerce proposed privatizing the DNS in 1998. The aim was to stimulate market competition and facilitate broader international participation. On 30 July 1998, the Green Paper proposed transferring DNS management to a privately run, non-profit organization to foster global market competition.

This document sets forth ways to improve technical management of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). Specifically, it describes the process by which the Federal government will transfer management of the Internet DNS to a private not-for-profit corporation. The document also proposes to open up to competition the administration of top-level domains and the registration of domain names.

30 September 1998 – ICANN was founded

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was established in response to extensive criticism from the internet community regarding the DNS privatization process. On 18 September 1998, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released the White Paper, which paved the way for ICANN’s formation. ICANN was incorporated in California on 30 September 1998.

1998 – InterNetX was founded

Founded in Regensburg, Germany, as an internet service provider, InterNetX manages over 4 million domains today and offers more than 1,050 TLDs through the all-in-one platform AutoDNS. It is an accredited ICANN registrar and registry of the new gTLDs .ltda and .srl.

1999 – Launch of Sedo.com

Founded in 1999 with operations in Cologne, Germany and Boston, USA, Sedo has grown into the world’s leading platform for domain buyers and sellers. Serving two million customers globally, it lists over 22 million domains for sale and manages four million parked domains.

1999 – The launch of TLS

The TLS (Transport Layer Security) was designed as an upgrade to SSL 3.0, mainly motivated by the need to overcome the vulnerabilities of SSL and embrace safer and more reliable cryptographic protocols for data transmission over the web. TLS 1.2 was released in 2008 and is the version we use today.

December 1999 – First commercial IDN

The first commercial IDN was launched in Taiwan in Chinese characters under the top-level IDN TLD “.gongsi” (comparable to .com). The second commercial IDNs were launched in 2000 in India in Tamil, corresponding to .com, .net, .org, and .edu.

2000 – Verisign acquires legacy gTLDs

In 2000, Verisign acquired Network Solutions Inc. for $21 billion, which operated the .com, .net and .org TLDs under agreements with ICANN and the US Department of Commerce.

March 2000 – Dot-com bubble

The dot-com bubble was a period of excessive speculation and investment in internet-based companies, or “dot-coms,” driven by the rise of the internet and online businesses under this gTLD between 1995 and its peak in March 2000. This financial bubble inflated over several years and eventually burst when these companies failed to generate profits, causing stock values to plummet.

2003 – First act again domain abuse

Paired with the PROTECT Act, the Truth in Domain Names Act of 2003 marked a critical turning point in internet regulation. For the first time, legislation started to penalize the registration of fraudulent domain names, specifically those designed to deceive users into visiting websites with unsolicited p*rnographic material. This significant legislation highlighted the growing concern over internet safety and played a crucial role in initiating stricter control over domain name registrations.

“To prevent the use of a misleading domain name with the intent to deceive a person into viewing obscenity on the internet.”

2005 – DNSSEC

The DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) was introduced to increase the security of the DNS. This suite of protocols strengthened domain security, protecting users from attacks such as cache poisoning and phishing but doesn’t provide a secure tunnel or encrypt or hide DNS data. DNSSEC adds resource records and message header bits to verify that the requested data matches what the zone administrator put in the zone without alterations in transit. The launch of DNSSEC on 27 January 2007 marked a significant step forward in the ongoing pursuit of online safety and data integrity in the domain industry.

2009 – The rise of blockchain

Blockchain technology is revolutionizing various sectors, including internet naming systems. Many projects on blockchain are currently under development, each with an implementation of its own. Thus, these systems are entirely independent of the traditional DNS and ICANN. Name resolution is generally done through a browser extension.

May 2010 – First internationalized ccTLDs

After ICANN approved the creation of internationalized ccTLDs in May 2010, the first IDN ccTLDs entered the DNS root zone.

The first three IDN ccTLDs and their respective countries are:
Egypt: مصر (Egypt)
Saudi Arabia: السعودية (AlSaudiah)
United Arab Emirates: امارات (Emarat)

February 2011 – IPv4 address exhaustion

The IANA allocated the last unassigned top-level address blocks of 16 million IPv4 addresses to the five RIRs.

April 2012 – Record-breaking domain name registrations

Mike Mann, a well-known domain speculator, registered 14,962 domain names within 24 hours. This remarkable feat dramatically pushed the boundaries of domain name acquisition and underscored the extraordinary growth potential of the online domain market.

6 June 2012 – IPv6 launch day

Due to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, the networking experts created the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) published in RFC 8200.

2012 – The new gTLD program

In 2012, ICANN made a groundbreaking move by launching a program for generic top-level domains (new gTLDs). This program dramatically expanded the namespace beyond the traditional domains. The initiative aimed to enhance competition, innovation and consumer choice. The launch intrigued businesses and individuals globally, marking a significant milestone in the history of the domain industry.

2013 – .com saturation with four letters

In December 2013, all possible four-letter combinations under the .com domain (456,976 LLLL.com) were registered. This saturation, limited to Latin alphabet letters, highlighted the substantial demand for .com domains.

2016 – New ICANN transfer policy

ICANN introduces a domain name transfer policy to enhance domain security and reduce the risks associated with unauthorized transfers. One of the main changes in this policy was that any changes made to the owner’s registrant, admin, or technical contact information must now be verified and approved by both parties involved.

30 September 2016 – IANA stewardship transition

The process for the IANA transition from US stewardship commences, turning all domain and numbering systems into a global multi-stakeholder model.

October 2018 – DNS queries over HTTPS (DoH)

With RFC 8484 IETF introduced DNS queries over HTTPS (DoH) to encrypt DNS queries, increasing user privacy and security.

11 October 2018 – KSK rollover

ICANN performed a Root Zone Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) KSK rollover. The KSK rollover involves the creation of a new pair of public and private cryptographic keys while ensuring the distribution of the new public element to parties managing validating resolvers.

2018 – GDPR

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation has substantially impacted the domain industry, particularly concerning WHOIS. Under GDPR, domain registrars have had to anonymize or redact registrant data in WHOIS listings, thereby influencing domain name registration data availability.

26 October 2018 – New agreement for .com

Verisign, ICANN, and the US Government agreed to revise the terms of their arrangement for the management of .com registrations. The new agreement allows Verisign to increase the wholesale price of .com registration services up to 7% per year in the last four years of every six-year contract term. The fourth hike company is expected to increase .com prices to $10.26 in 2024.

Tip: Secure your .com domains at the current price with a multi-year registration before further increases.

26 August 2019 – Implementation of RDAP

Per ICANN’s mandate, gTLD registries and registrars must implement RDAP (Registration Data Access Protocol) services by 26 August 2019. The protocol was developed to replace the WHOIS for consistent and secure access to domain registration information. Its implementation ensures a standardized method for accessing domain registration data, promoting transparency and improving efficiency in the internet ecosystem.

2019 – The most expensive domain sold

CarInsurance.com is a highly valuable domain that holds the record for being the most expensive domain sale ever.

Five most expensive domain names (January 2023)

carinsurance.com $49.7 million
insurance.com $35.6 million
vacantionrentals.com $35 million
privatejet.com $30.18 million
voice.com – $30 million

2020 – Ensuring DNS safety amidst the pandemic

To mitigate and minimize the abuse of domain names being used to maliciously take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, ICANN, registries, registrars, security experts and internet engineers, and others signed the COVID-19 Cyber Threat Coalition. Furthermore, the Registrar Stakeholder Group wrote the paper “Registrar approaches to the COVID-19 crisis” which provides several steps and resources the registrar community can use to avoid abuses of the DNS.

2023 – DNS abuse mitigation

Sophisticated cyber crimes have raised the debate around DNS abuse and the need for stringent DNS abuse policies and effective mechanisms for reporting and fixing such issues. ICANN’s contracted parties approved in December 2023 new obligations to mitigate DNS abuse and announce stricter policy revisions, requiring domain name registries and registrars to combat abuse actively, like the DNS Security Threat Mitigation Program.

2023 – NIS2 Directive

The European Commission proposes the revised Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems (NIS2 Directive) to increase cybersecurity further across the EU. This law affects the domain industry, as EU countries need to incorporate the directive into their national regulations.

Tip: Download our e-paper “NIS2 | Unraveling the Directive” for insightful analysis, expert opinions and a compliance checklist about the NIS2 Directive, providing a comprehensive guide to better understanding its complexities.

To be continued…

Renowned as a thriving ecosystem that is ever-evolving and forward-looking, the domain industry constantly challenges conventions, rewrites norms, and sets benchmarks for the ever-evolving world of the web.

The next milestone is just around the corner. The upcoming new gTLD program is around the corner, and new sophisticated technologies, like blockchain and AI, are about to change how we operate in the DNS dramatically.

As we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to update this tale with the next groundbreaking milestone, we invite you to share in this journey. Stay tuned to our blog for the latest trends and updates, ensuring you always have a front-row seat to witness the unfolding spectacle of the domain name industry’s remarkable evolution.

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