Dot-Com Turns 25: A Look Back

The Internet is filled with nostalgia on Monday as geeks all over the world celebrate the 25th anniversary of the registration of the first dot-com domain. On March 15, 1985, a small Massachusetts-based computer manufacturer Symbolics, Inc. registered Symbolics.com. It would be more than a month before the second dot-com was registered, and there wouldn't be 100 registered dot-coms until November 30, 1987.

How times have changed. Today, there are 668,000 dot-coms registered every month, according to the BBC. Current top Internet properties include names like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and eBay--none of which were registered until the 1990s.

On this historic anniversary of the first ever registered dot-com domain, let's take a trip back and revisit the histories of the first five domains ever registered, plus the story of what is arguably the most notorious dot-com ever.

1. Symbolics.com, registered March 15, 1985

Symbolics may not be a household name, but this little known domain holds the title of the first dot-com ever to be registered. The Wayback Machine shows that Symbolics looked like this in December 1998:

By January 2008, according to the Internet Archive, the site had reverted back to the original Symbolics logo, and retained that pre-Web 2.0 feel:

Symbolics.com was sold for an undisclosed amount to XF.com investments in August 2009. The site now serves as the personal blog of Aron Meystedt, CEO of XF.com Investments. XF.com is a commercial real estate and domain name investing company. Here's how the site looks on its 25th anniversary:

2. BBN.com, registered April 24, 1985

By 1997, computing and consultation company BBN was about to be acquired by telecommunications giant GTE. At the time, BBN.com served as the online presence of BBN Planet, the company's Internet access, Web hosting and site building division. Here's what it looked like in January 1997:

Almost two years later, the second dot-com ever was a mere placeholder for GTE (the site images do not survive):

In 2000, GTE merged with Bell Atlantic to become Verizon in 2000, and by 2004 Verizon sold BBN to a group of private investors, who in turn sold the company to Raytheon in 2009. Today, BBN is a high technology research and development company:

(BBN was also the company that developed and operated the U.S. Government's ARPANET--the predecessor to the Internet. For more Internet history, check out PC World's The Evolution of the Internet.)

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