While the realm of DNS and domain management is often perceived as a complex and serious field, there is a history brimming with stories and trivia just beneath the surface. In this blog post, we delve into 15 DNS facts that highlight the journey of the internet from its early beginnings to the present day.
1. 404 Error’s Fashion Inspiration
The infamous “404 Not Found” error is often encountered when a webpage can’t be located due to a DNS issue. Rumor has it that the error is named after Room 404 at CERN, where the original web server was housed. Just like the elusive web pages it represents, Room 404 was notoriously difficult to find.
Of course, the story of the rumor is like a tiny little representation of the internet itself: a hall of mirrors in which multiple contradictory “facts” compete for your attention. Some people state that it’s all bunk: there is no room 404 at CERN, which sounds easy enough to verify. Apparently, there is even a guy who did a TED Talk on the subject!
But here are some real facts: HTTP responses in the 400 range are a class of errors that means that you, the user, have made a mistake. 404 (Not Found) is nestled between its friends 403 (Forbidden, meaning you may not access this item and 405 (Method Not Allowed).
2. The Internet’s Baby Steps
On March 15, 1985, the first-ever domain name was registered:Symbolics.com. Owned by computer manufacturer Symbolics Inc., the company eventually went defunct, but its place in internet history is forever cemented. Fun fact: Symbolics has a mythic status among computer aficionados, and No-IP has one degree of separation from an actual Symbolics computer. Our founder worked at a company where one of the early-stage engineers once worked for Symbolics, and had one stashed in his garage.
3. A World Record with a Twist
As of 2021, the most expensive domain name ever sold was http://Voice.com , which fetched a staggering $30 million in 2019. It’s an impressive price to pay, considering that the DNS is quite literally the “voice” of the internet.
4. A Creative Solution
In 1999, the “ILOVEYOU” virus exploited weaknesses in the DNS and caused widespread chaos. In response, Filipino programmers quickly registered ILoveYou.com to host a virus removal tool, turning the name of the virus against itself.
5. A Digital Time Capsule
Back in 1993, InterNIC was established to manage domain name allocations. To commemorate the event, they buried a time capsule containing mementos of the early days of the internet, set to be opened in 2043. We can expect the return of AngelFire and GeoCities on that date. There will be bright colors and many, many fonts.
6. A Long Way from .com
Before the now-ubiquitous .com domain extension, the internet featured extensions like .arpa, .gov, .edu, .mil, .org, and .net. The .com extension wasn’t introduced until 1985, part of the burst of creativity that enshrined Tears For Fears, Mr. Mister, and Simple Minds in our cultural pantheon.
7. Musical Domains
The internet is home to many strange domain names, but did you know there’s a band called “The .coms”? They own the domain TheDotComs.com, a creative nod to both their name and the internet itself.
8. It’s a Small (Internet) World
While the internet seems infinite, the number of possible IPv4 addresses is limited to 4,294,967,296. With IPv6, however, the number of possible IP addresses jumps to a staggering 340 undecillion (that’s 340 followed by 36 zeros)! This means that all the hairs on all the Bigfoots could have their own address. Why they would need this is beyond the scope of this discussion.
9. Colleagues Turned Internet Superstars
The way we use the internet is all thanks to a couple of American Computer Scientists that were just trying to figure out a way to improve the US Advanced Research Projects Agency Network’S (ARPANET) address naming system that didn’t involve contacting someone at Standford during business hours. Paul Mockapetris invented the internet’s Domain Name system (DNS) in 1983, and his colleague, Jon Postel, created many of the standards governing the internet today, including the management of IP addresses and the formation of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).It’s no wonder Mockapetris and Postel are inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame!
10. The Million Dollar Homepage
In 2005, a British student named Alex Tew came up with the idea to sell advertising space on a website by the pixel. He launched a website called The Million Dollar Homepage, offering one million pixels for sale at $1 per pixel. The website quickly became a sensation, and Tew managed to sell all one million pixels, making a cool million dollars. Part of the deal, though, was that each pixel had to be eventually delivered to its owner via FedEx, which due to increased shipping costs ate into profits considerably.
11. A Domain Name Squatting Windfall
In 2007, a man named Chris Clark sold the domain name Pizza.com for a staggering $2.6 million. He had initially registered the domain back in 1994 for $20, making it one of the most profitable domain squatting in history.
12. The Lengthy Domain Name
While domain names typically range from 3 to 63 characters in length, the longest domain name ever registered is a whopping 63 characters long: “http://abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijk.com“. It consists of the alphabet repeated twice followed by the first 11 letters once more. Likely fact: the website has been visited four times in 20 years. No one can type it correctly and it turned out the content wasn’t fun enough to bookmark.
13. Short, Simple, and Purposeful
Top-Level Domains (TLDs) are domain extensions you find after the final dot of a web address. For example, .com, .de, .us, and so on. TLDs are important for providing a legitimate way for users to distinguish the purpose or geographical region of a website, but also how a website functions. Check out this comprehensive list of TLDs available.
It used to be that TLDs were limited to countries, and specific “kinds” of sites, like commercial entities (the ubiquitous .com), non-profit organizations (touchy-feel .org) or government agencies (.gov, which always leads to a broken site and/or the DMV). The U.S. military (the Internet’s “angel investor” if you want to call it that), has its own: .mil. Now there are many TLDs and some of them are…kinda spicy. You know which ones they are, don’t act all innocent.
14. Internet Time Machine
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go back in time? Well, you can with the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. Simply type in the URL, select the date range you’re looking for, and check out that archived version of the website.
The Internet Archive’s headquarters is a former church located in the Richmond District of San Francisco. The building is large and impressive, with tall Greek columns at the entrance and, inside, nestled among the racks of servers, the pipe organ, and many pews. Some of the No-IP team have physically been there on a tour!
15. The Manager of the Internet
For our final fact, we take a step back to find out who is in charge of making sure the internet is functioning properly. As you probably suspected, it’s Lumberg from Office Space. Ha, fortunately it is not. Because the internet cannot be made to come in on Saturdays.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit international organization that is responsible for the coordination of technical operations and policies for DNS resources. Without ICANN, the internet would be incredibly unstable, insecure, and disorganized.
So there you have it – As we reflect on these 15 DNS facts, it’s clear that the world of DNS and domain management is far more intriguing and colorful than one might initially assume. These anecdotes not only offer a perspective on the history of the internet, but also highlight the creativity and innovation of the individuals who have contributed to the development and evolution of the DNS infrastructure over the years.
So, as you navigate the internet and appreciate the seamless connectivity that DNS provides, take a moment to remember the surprising history behind the technology that makes our online experiences possible.
Here’s to the pioneers, the innovators, and the dreamers who have shaped the internet – and to those who continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the digital realm.