Last month, the world’s first ‘registered’ and still active ‘.com’ domain changed hands, after completing its silver jubilee. On 15 March 1985, US-based computer manufacturer, Symbolics Inc, registered ‘symbolics.com’ through the appropriate domain name server (DNS) process, long before the World Wide Web (www) era.
Symbolics.com, however, was not the first domain name created. In January 1985, Nordu.net, which was used to serve as the identifier of the first root server, nic.nordu.net, was created but it was not registered. Besides symbolic.com, only a few other companies, like bbn.com, think.com, mcc.com, dec.com and northrop.com, thought of reserving their domain names on the root servers. But Symbolics was the first to make the move.
Symbolics Inc—a spinoff from the MIT AI Lab—was a computer manufacturer that designed and manufactured a line of Lisp machines, single-user computers optimised to run the Lisp programming language. These machines were the first commercially available ‘general-purpose computers’ or ‘workstations’ way before those terms were coined.
However, in the late 1980s, the company started its slow descent to bankruptcy and oblivion. What is remarkable here is that Symbolics.com had not changed ownership even once during the nearly 25 years following its registration. On 27th August, domain name investment company XF.com bought the domain name symbolics.com for an undisclosed sum, marking the end of an era.
Today, Symbolics exists but only as a shell of its former self. There is no indication of what the future has in store for the historical domain name, apart from the fact that the new owner XF.com intends to celebrate the 25th birthday of ‘symbolics.com’ next year. – Y.S.