Think back to the last time you typed in a web address. Maybe it was to check a sneaker drop in your favorite online store, skim through the news, or browse through Pinterest for inspiration. Domain names are our Internet GPS, providing us with a precise location in the online world. But have you ever wondered how it all started?

Who registered the first domain name? What was the first domain name ever registered? And how has the domain name system transformed in the past decades? In this article, we will take a step back in time and shed some light on the evolution of domain names and internet history.

What Are Domain Names?

Just like you type in the address of your local coffee shop to Google Maps, you’re inputting digital coordinates when you type a domain name like ‘‘ into your browser. The domain will tell it exactly where to go to find the web page you’re looking for. 

Underneath it all, every computer has a unique identifier, known as an IP address. This is a string of numbers that can look something like this: Internet domains are basically the more human-friendly version of these. So each domain name corresponds to an IP address, making our online searches significantly easier.

Paving the Way For The Modern Internet

We are sorry if we dispel the illusion that the internet was invented in the back of a garage by a geeky genius. In reality, the invention of the internet is the result of an enormous collaborative effort composed of visionaries and innovators. If we had to credit one main organisation, it would have to be the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (short DARPA) of the United States.

Being the central research organisation for the Department of Defense (DoD) in the United States, DARPA brought forth the concept of digital networks, far before the term “internet” even existed. During the late 50s, DARPA was on a mission to develop a communications and data network that could continue to operate even if a Soviet nuclear strike disrupted conventional communications systems. DARPA’s important work led to the creation of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) in the 1960s. The forerunner of the Internet, if you like.

After ARPANET’s success, DARPA went on to develop TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol), a pair of protocols that allowed computers to ‘talk’ to each other, in the 70s. This technology was a game changer and enabled the introduction of .com and .orgs as we know them. The credit for this invention goes in particular to computer scientists Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn. Their work was so important that January 1, 1983, the day the ARPANET was transformed into TCP/IP, is considered the “official” birthday of the Internet.

So, What Was The First Domain Name Ever Registered

To find out what the first domain registered, we will need to travel back all the way to 1985. That’s when the great-grandfathers of all domain names, were registered. As you may know, there were initially only six generic top-level domains (gTLDs): .com for commercial entities, .edu for educational purposes, .gov for the government, .mil for the military, .org for non-profit organisations, and .net for internet service providers. There was also .arpa that was used help with the transition to the new internet infrastructure.

On January 1, 1985, the domain name system was born and on the same day, DARPA registered,,, and

On the same day, the Nordic Infrastructure for Research and Education also registered

WHOIS Search result for, with Creation Date highlighted.,,,, and all share the title of first domain name ever registered.

The first .com domain name ever registered was This was done around three months later, on March 15, 1985. It was brought to life by a computer manufacturer in Cambridge, Massachusetts by the same name, Symbolics Inc. 

Date of registration Domain Registered to
January 1, 1985 DARPA
January 1, 1985 DARPA
January 1, 1985 Defense Data Network
January 1, 1985 DARPA
January 1, 1985 Internet Architecture Board
January 1, 1985 Nordic Infrastructure for Research and Education
January 17, 1985 DARPA
March 15, 1985 Symbolics Inc
April 24, 1985 BBN Technologies
April 24, 1985 University of California, Berkeley
April 24, 1985 Carnegie Mellon University
April 24, 1985 Purdue University
April 24, 1985 Rice University
April 24, 1985 University of California, Los Angeles
April 25, 1985 Rutgers University
May 23, 1985 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
May 24, 1985 Thinking Machines
June 1, 1985 Central Security Service
June 27, 1985 Harvard University
July 5, 1985 Columbia University
July 10, 1985 Mitre Corporation
July 11, 1985 Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation
July 15, 1985 Cornell University
July 18, 1985 University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
July 24, 1985 University of Delaware
The first 25 domains ever registered, according to Wikipedia.

Even though these were the first domains in history, they weren’t chosen because someone thought they were super cool names. Oh no. Remember, this was more than three decades ago when the internet was a barely-known technology. Only a few could have predicted how domain names would shape the World Wide Web. Domains like & Co were pioneers.

The Evolution of Domain Names

In 1985, the registration of domain names was free and unrestricted. However, the process was more complicated than it is now, where you can buy a domain basically like you would order anything else online. In 1985, only those with ARPA access could register domains.

In 1986, .us was launched, becoming the first country-code TLD (ccTLD) for the United States. But as the Internet grew, the number of TLDs expanded quickly, targeting a wider variety of purposes and countries all over the world. Today, there are over 1,500 top-level domains in existence. 

By the end of 1992, there were only around 15,000 .com domains registered. Fast forward to today, and there are over 160 million in use! So if you get lucky and find your perfect domain name under .com, better register it quickly before someone else snaps it away.

Register Your Domain Name

The ’90s witnessed a veritable ‘gold rush’ in domain names, starting when NSI (Network Solutions, Inc.) granted the authority to start charging for domain registrations in 1995. The era of free domain names came to an end. 

With the start of the new millennium, the role of overseeing domain name governance was transferred to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The internet landscape was starting to expand and diversify like never before, and nTLDs or new top-level domains emerged.

And what’s in store for the future of domain names? Who knows! What we do know is that, as our digital world evolves, so too will our domain naming system. There’s no doubt it will continue to adapt to keep pace with the ever-changing cyber landscapes.

How Many Domain Names Are Registered Today?

Roughly speaking, there are currently 359 million domain names registered across all top-level domains (Source: VeriSign’s Domain Name Industry Brief – Q3, 2023). This mind-blowing figure is proof of how important the internet has become in our day-to-day lives. Whether it be for personal blogs, online businesses, or multinational corporations, domain names connect us across the globe. 

Up to this day, the lion’s share of 160.8 million domain names of these domain names is taken up by .com, which is undoubtedly the most popular domain name extension.

And the numbers have been rising steadily over the years. Every day, thousands of new domains are registered worldwide.

We could go on and on about this, but if you want to know more about how many domain names there are, check out our article on the topic.


So, there you have it. You should now know what the first domain name ever registered was. As you can see, domain names aren’t just a tech totem; they’ve shaped the infrastructure of the internet as we know it today. Just as the first domains were groundbreaking for their time, we at OnlyDomains are eager to see what is coming next for domain names. 

But let’s not just muse about the future. Dare to take part in it. If you’ve got an idea, a business, a blog, or a portfolio, register your domain name today and start your own online journey. Good luck!

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