The Internet’s been around in some form for decades. It wasn’t until the mid-80s, though, that the Web as we know it started coming together — and those precious dot-com domains started getting snatched up.
As we finish out the tech-centric year of 2008, we thought we’d take a look back at the Internet’s oldest commercial Web sites — the ones registered back when chatting about “the Net” was as socially acceptable as wearing Jedi garb into a crowded nightclub. So grab your light sabers, dear friends — we’re boarding the Millennium Falcon and heading back to a virtual galaxy far, far away.
Symbolics declared bankruptcy in the early 90s but is still under operation with new owners. That means symbolics.com is the Internet’s oldest still-functioning dot-com domain — and, I must say, it still looks like it was designed in 1985.
Some of the other early dot-coms are domains we know well. The ninth recorded registration went to hp.com on March 3, 1986. IBM bought its domain a couple of weeks later. AT&T followed in April, and Apple joined the club after another year. Unfortunately, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine only goes back to the mid-90s, but even in 1997, you can see how relatively low-tech apple.com looked compared to the snazzy standards we enjoy today.
Some other noteworthy notches on the dot-com timeline that didn’t make the first 100: Microsoft bought microsoft.com in May of 1991; PC World entered the online world in April ’92; Yahoo reserved its dot-com home in January of 1995; and Google grabbed google.com in September of 1997.
As a heads-up, one conspicuous omission that may catch your eye: anything remotely pornographic. (Those 2400 BPS modems didn’t make for great image transmission.) Allow me to satisfy your curiosity, though: Sex.com first surfaced in 1994. Porn.com came into existence about a year later.
(Click to the next page for the full list.)
The Full List
All right, prurient interests addressed, ready to check out the full list of dot-com pioneers? Brace yourself, and dig in.