The surprising story of the world’s oldest dot-com

14 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A look back: 30 years of the dot-com domain.

The world’s very first dot com will turn 30-years-old this upcoming Sunday and we’re not talking about Kim Dotcom who’s already 41-years-old, we’re talking about a “.com” domain name: Symbolics.com Viral interest in this story, which was reported by Network World earlier this morning, has reached the heights of trending status across the web today.The first dot-com turns 30 this weekend, with CNN reporting that the company’s purchase of the world’s oldest dot-com domain, symbolics.com, predates the World Wide Web by four years. “Symbolics was one of the original makers of computer workstations, and the company even got a mention in the movie ‘Jurassic Park.’ But the ‘Lisp’ computer language that Symbolics developed eventually faded in popularity.

The Cambridge-headquartered company went out of business about a decade ago (though remnants live on) and in August 2009 the Symbolics.com address was sold for an undisclosed sum to XF.com Investments, whose CEO Aron Meystedt said in a press release: “For us to own the first domain is very special to our company, and we feel blessed for having the ability to obtain this unique property.” Today it looks like more of a white elephant than a blessing, what with a largely empty “cityscape” design and a blog that hasn’t been updated in two years. Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, the Internet was available to a very limited number of users and called ARPANET, the sites largely used for research and defense. Yet Meystedt remains optimistic, at least outwardly. “We created the city concept to make browsing the site fun, but it also could grow into a revenue-generating property if we allow advertisers to sponsor elements in the cityscape,” he says. With the launch of the domains, though, there was a way to organize and set “domains.” In 1990, the development of HTML and URLs helped make ARPANET obsolete and we moved towards what we think of now as the Internet. The now defunct computer manufacturer Symbolics and its assets were acquired by Symbolics, Inc., who continues to sell and maintain the Open Genera Lisp system and the Macsyma computer algebra system.

Both the company and the symbolics.com website still exist today, with the company maintaining the Lisp operating system that continues in limited use by some companies and government agencies, the report notes. The design includes clickable elements that reward the visitor with nuggets of information about the Internet, such as: “Gmail first launched on April 1st, 2004. The mid-’90s launched an obsession with the Internet, AOL bringing chat rooms to live, IRC use exploded, and more and more companies began to launch their own “domains” using the dot-com website. It was widely assumed the service was an April Fools Day joke.” “As far as traffic, the daily visitors can range from several hundred to several thousand,” Meystedt says. “This usually depends on how well Symbolics.com is circulated on social media or news blogs.” The problem here appears obvious: Symbolics.com is not Plymouth Rock; it would appear to be valuable – at least in a business sense – only if you’re running a company called Symbolics.

Back then, calling the Internet something akin to the “wild, wild west” wasn’t inaccurate: look at the history of WhiteHouse.com as mentioned above. And, eventually, technology advanced to the point where you didn’t have to tie up a phone line just to spend and hour downloading three or four photos. (What you downloaded was, of course, entirely up to you.) Now, the Internet moves at lightning speed thanks to more advances, and most people don’t even have to be wired in to use it anymore.

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