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'Dot Com' Internet Domain Name Turns 25

The "dot com" domain name was born 25 years ago.

The "dot com" domain name was born 25 years ago.

(RFE/RL) -- Today marks the 25th birthday of the "dot com" domain name -- the address that for many people defines the Internet.

On March 15, 1985, a U.S. computer maker called Symbolics registered -- the first "dot com" site.

The domain was slow to catch on at first. Until the mid-1990s, relatively few people had a computer and hardly anyone knew what a "dot com" was. Some of the biggest names, like Apple, registered theirs only several years after Symbolics.

But today, "dot com" is regarded as part of the fabric of the lives of the Internet's 1.6 billion users. People visit "dot com" sites to shop, connect with people, be entertained, learn, be informed, and exchange ideas. Some 100,000 "dot com" sites are registered every day. Nearly 86 million sites are active and millions of other "dot com" sites have come and gone over the past 25 years.

Symbolics went bust and is now a blog for the owner of a firm that buys and sells "dot coms" for a living.

The "dot com" domain was originally managed by the U.S. Department of Defense, then by Network Solutions, which was bought by VeriSign. The California-based company says it will celebrate the Internet's first "dot com" registration with an event in Washington on March 16, where former President Bill Clinton is to deliver the keynote address. Later, a gala in San Francisco will highlight the top 25 people and companies who are believed to have made the "most notable impact" on the Internet.

"Dot com" is one of the so-called top-level domain names that ensure each Internet address is unique. Along with "dot com," "dot edu," "dot gov," "dot mil," "dot org," and "dot net" were established in early 1985.

Cyberspace has since seen the development of a myriad of suffixes, such as "dot biz" for registration of domains to be used by businesses and "dot eu" for organizations and citizens in European Union member states. There also are country-code top level domain names -- for example, "dot ru" for Russia, "dot ir" for Iran, or "dot af" for Afghanistan.

Another milestone came last year with the approval of international domain names that can be written in non-Latin script -- such as Cyrillic, Arabic, or Chinese.

A more somber "dot com" anniversary was marked earlier this month -- 10 years since the bursting of the "dot com bubble," when shares in Internet companies soared and then collapsed.