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The History of .Com, .Net and .Org

Three of the oldest and most recognized top level domain names (the part to the right of the dot in a domain name) have a long and storied history. How you think of these domains when you see them today isn’t necessarily the same as the reasons that they were originally created.
Back in 1985, before the World Wide Web even existed, the domain names .Com, .Net and .Org were created as three of the original six generic top level domain names. The other three domain names—.mil, .gov and .edu—were not available for registration by the general public (and still are restricted today).
Let’s take a look at the history of these popular three domain name extensions.


There’s a bit of debate about whether .com stands for company or commercial. Keep in mind that, back in 1985, people hadn’t considered using the Internet for commerce. It was more of a government and science communication system.
Either way, .com became the de facto extension for businesses and a catch-all for any type of website once CERN’s Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1989. (You can still view his historic first website, launched in 1991, as archived by w3.org.)
The very first .com domain claimed was Symbolics.com. Other names registered in 1985 include BBN.com, Think.com, DEC.com, MCC.com and Northrop.com.
Over the past 32 years, people and companies have registered over 130 million .com domain names.


.Net is short for network. It was originally created for companies involved in networking, which is why a lot of internet service providers and technology companies started with a .net domain name.
Nordic Infrastructure for Research & Education registered the first .net domain name, Nordu.net, in January 1985.
Now .net is a general purpose domain name used by businesses and individuals across the world, and there are about 15 million .net domain names registered.


Many people think of .org as a domain name for nonprofits, but there are no restrictions on who can register them. They were originally created as an alternative for non-commercial, non-governmental companies, and anyone can use a .org domain if it fits their needs.
The domain .org is run Public Interest Registry, which is part of the non-profit organization Internet Society (ISOC).
The first .org domain name registered was Mitre.org in July 1985.
There are about 10 million .org domain names registered.

Just Three of Many Choices

If you’re looking for a new domain name, you have many options. You can stick with the popular .org,  .net, or .com domain name, or choose from hundreds of other options to fit every business and lifestyle. Find your favorite!

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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