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Today marks the 25th anniversary of the first registration of a .com domain. But the Internet has come a long way since Symbolics.com was registered on March 15th 1985 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A mere 25 years ago, the fledgling Internet registered its first .com domain. At the time it would have been impossible to predict just how momentous this small action would be and what it would lead to. Whilst the initial uptake was slow, taking almost two years to gather 10 registrations, the .com suffix was to become an industry standard.
Since these early days, growth has snowballed. By the end of the millennium 21 million .com domain names had been secured. Today, that number is estimated to be nearer 80 million. .com has become default address for the 1.7 billion Internet users today. Whilst it has generally become a more US orientated domain, the .com still has a universality like no other suffix, despite the array of competitors.
Here in the UK, those looking to attain local search results will now often opt for a straightforward .co.uk domain. The .com performs well globally, but using a geographically located domain helps anchor local search results. There are numerous others now available, mostly due to the fact that 80 million .com domains have left opportunities few and far between for newcomers.
Specialist domains like .gov or .edu are saved for registered government departments and educational facilities. This has gone some way to diffuse the strain on the increasingly overburdened .com. The .co. domain, which is followed by any number of country’s initials, provides a more localised registration option for sites. There’s also .org, .net, .biz, .tv and many, many more to satisfy various niches and expand the Internet’s capacity for new domains.
Of course this is just one of many symbolic landmarks in the history of the Internet. Ironically it comes just five days after the 10 year anniversary of the dot-com bubble burst, which marked the end of an era of online excess and poor management. But 25 years ago, the small computer manufacturer in Cambridge, Massachusetts who registered Symbolics.com could have scarcely believed the precedent they were setting and the huge growth that this simple suffix would experience in the coming years.
With strength assigned to the age of a domain, the like of Xerox, HP and of course Symbolics have an immediate advantage over most competitors in their SEO. Websites today are in an environment of major competition. With 250 million registered domains in total, that’s about one for every 11 Internet users, you have to be smart in how you market yourself. We can’t all have a 25 year old domain to draw strength from, but there are still opportunities aplenty, even for those new to the Internet.
We are still in the early years of the Internet. 25 years from now we can expect a very different online world. But the one thing that will almost certainly remain is the .com domain.