Dotcom at 25: Silver anniversary of the Web's brand name

Twenty-five years ago today, a tiny computer company in Massachusetts registered the first ever .com domain name

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Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Twenty-five years ago today, on 15 March 1985, a tiny computer company in Massachusetts registered the first ever .com domain name, Symbolics.com. Only five other companies had the same idea that year, the BBC reports. Sadly Symbolics' tech vision didn't match its business acumen and the company folded.

The Berlin Wall was still unsullied by Hasselhoff, football players wore short shorts and Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Right Round was number one. Top-level domain names such as .org, .net and .gov were created in January of that year and administered by the US Department of Defense -- .com signified the domain of a commercial organisation. With no Web sites for several more years though, domain names were chiefly used for email.

It wasn't until the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee came up with the idea of the World Wide Web, four years later, that a use for the Internet beyond academia and government became apparent. In 1993, Mosaic, the first Web browser to display images and text together, was launched, opening up the Web to the general public.

Dotcoms came to embody the nascent Web's feisty, liberal, entrepreneurial spirit. In 1994, Gary Kremer registered sex.com, which was sold in 2006 for a reported $14m and went up for auction again last week.

Having become synonymous with overpromising and failed expectations, dotcoms saw a resurgence in the last decade, with 84 million domain names registered to date. The Internet is now worth $1.5 trillion to the world economy, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and that figure is predicted to rise to $3.8 trillion by the time .com is 35.

In case you were wondering, dotcom.com is owned by NetworkSolutions, the venerable domain-name registration company.

Can you remember the Internet before .com? What's your first memory of the Web? Will today's style of URLs last in a world of voice search, or go the way of slashes and www? Let us know your considered and erudite opinions in the comments box below.

Image credit: eHow