Michael Lerner

Tuesday - Mar 16, 2010


This week marks a major milestone for the Internet—the 25th anniversary of the .com domain. The first company to register an Internet domain was Symbolics Computer Company of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is now defunct. But in retrospect, symbolics.com certainly captures the spirit of this pioneering technology.

Few suspected in 1985 that the Internet would become the nervous system of the new economy. In fact only five other domains were registered that year. Today, there are over 80 million. By the way, it was free to register a domain name in 1985; by the height of the dot-com boom–the late 1990s– the price had risen to $35;  today you can register a domain name for as low as $1.99.

Why did it take so long for the Internet to blossom? I can think of at least three reasons: First, the personal computer was a stranger to most homes and businesses. Second, the World Wide Web didn’t begin until the 1990s. Third, there was no consumer-friendly software. Netscape Navigator, although not the first web browser, made accessing the Web easy and fun—displaying images instead of text-only web pages.

Even as late as 1995, it was difficult to see the future. Amuse yourself with a slideshow trumpeting the terrible tech predictions made by visionary writer Cliff Stoll. If you want to see what the Web looked like 15 years ago, visit his Web site.

Who could have predicted that .com would become more valuable than beachfront property. Among the most valuable are “business.com”, which sold for $7.5 million. You probably won’t be surprised that “sex.com” went for millions more.

Internet  company VeriSign has launched a Web site that trumpets the achievements of the past 25 years. Of interest is a list of 75 people and companies that have played a major role in the development of the Net. Guess how many are in California’s Silicon Valley.

How has the Net changed your life? Share your comments.