Before getting out of bed, millions of people daily visit websites such Amazon.com, Weather.com and Facebook.com, something unthinkable just three decades ago when none of these sites existed.
March 15 marks the 30th anniversary of the birth of the .com domain suffix, or dotcom.
The first dotcom belonged to a now-defunct company called Symbolics, which held a post office box in Burke, Virginia, and considered itself “the premier producer of special-purpose computer systems for running and developing state-of-the-art object-oriented programs in Lisp.”
Looking back on how far the Internet has come since then, it is stunning to think that at one point, only a handful of “elite universities” accessed what would come to be known as the World Wide Web, says Lee Rainie, director of internet, science and technology research at the Pew Research Center.
“The explosion of dotcoms and even of top level domains is a testament to how deeply bound up the internet is in people’s social, economic and political lives,” Rainie said.
In the early days, companies acquired their own dotcoms and developed a marketing presence on the Internet. Open University, a distance learning and research institution based in the United Kingdom, collected a few of these initial efforts from Apple, Intel, Xerox and more.
In fact, Pew’s Rainie said that in the 1980s, it was “a radical thing” that a company could represent itself with its own dotcom.
About 15 years to the day that the Symbolics launched its website, the dotcom bubble burst. After years of investment in companies like AOL, stocks slipped, companies crashed and the American economy dipped as a result of a deflated dotcom bubble.
However, the Internet prevailed. In February, Netcraft surveyed more than 883 million websites and found that .com remains one of the most popular suffixes, along with .net and .org.
“Now, for a price, businesses and people can be a dot-ADULT or dot-GAL or dot-BEER (or VODKA) or dot-HIPHOP or dot-OKINAWA or dot-MONEY (or RICH) or even a dot-SCHWARZ,” Rainie said. “What better illustrates the diversity, breadth, and wackiness of the internet?”