DNS History: How Domain Names Become Paid

Earlier we started telling the history of the domain name system and talked about the modifications made in DNS. The next step is changes that the IT community has not met in the best way.


Photos – Mike Bryant – Unsplash

Paid Top Level Domains

In the first part, we mentioned how, in 1983, Paul Mockapetris proposed a new host identifier structure — with a name and a special category. This structure became the basis for the classification of gTLDs (generic Top-Level Domains) with the first domains .com, .edu, .net, .org, .int, .gov and .mil. Later, .info, .biz and .name were added to this list.

In the early 1990s, Network Solutions Inc. dealt with issues of creating and managing top-level domains. (NSI) hired by the US government. For these purposes, the company opened a subsidiary InterNIC. Later, the task of managing the DNS was assigned to the IANA organization, which worked under a contract with the US Department of Defense. It was led by none other than Jon Postel, a colleague of Mokapetris and co-author of the first DNS specification. After John’s death, gTLD was transferred to another international organization, ICANN.

The first few years, Network Solutions was funded by the United States Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). But in 1995, another government agency – the National Science Foundation of America (NSF), which is responsible for technology development – allowed NSI to charge domain registration fees. The company set a price of $ 100 for every two years of ownership.

The decision made by NSF and NSI was not well received by the IT community. First of all, the experts were worried that all the income would be concentrated in the hands of the only organization that is a monopolist in the emerging market. As a result, various companies and enthusiasts in protest began to configure alternative root DNS servers and create their own namespaces with top-level domains.

Alternate Root Servers

The first alternative server was AlterNIC; it was founded in 1995 by engineer Eugene Kashpureff. Within the framework of AlterNIC, gTLDs were launched: .exp, .llc, .lnx, .ltd, .med, etc. But Eugene went beyond the simple creation of a new service. In 1997, he hacked InterNIC and redirected resource traffic to his own site for three days. Such actions entailed several lawsuits and criminal prosecution. As a result, the founder of AlterNIC was arrested, and the company was closed.

Apparently AlterNIC, in the nineties there were such root servers as eDNS, Iperdome for personal domain services and New.Net, which was the only root server that worked in the Western Pacific until 2002. The founders of the services did not go beyond and did not try to compete with Network Solutions, but the projects were anyway closed.


Photos – Tim Reckmann – CC BY

The alternative server market has not died, and today such solutions continue to evolve. For example, there is dot.love with domains such as .thanks, .joy, .wise, and .truth. There is also dotBERLIN that manages a single .berlin domain. Participants of the open community also configure their DNS servers – the GNU Name System works with the .gnu domain, and the decentralized EmerCoin system manages .coin, .lib, .emc and .bazar.

Despite the proliferation of alternative root servers, global experts believe that their presence is harmful to the Internet. IETF engineers even described their concerns in a special RFC2826. They note that fragmentation of the DNS ecosystem impedes the work of resolvers, slows down the search for necessary resources for users, and makes it difficult to distribute security updates.

But not all alternative services complicate the DNS structure. There are solutions like the Open Root Server Network that are not profit-oriented and do not expand the root zones with additional top-level domains. Their goal is to reduce the dependence of the Internet community on ICANN (which today is responsible for gTLDs).

The situation with alternative DNS servers is just one example of a “war” in the history of the domain name system. Next time we’ll talk about the problems with implementing the EDNS specification for expanding DNS capabilities and the debate over the transition to DoH / DoT.


The 1cloud.ru cloud equipment is located in three data processing centers (DPC): Xelent / SDN (St. Petersburg), DataSpace (Moscow) and Ahost (Alma-Ata).


Moreover, DataSpace is the first Russian data center that has passed the Tier lll certification from the Uptime Institute.


Additional reading on 1cloud blog:

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“How We Build IaaS”: 1cloud materials

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This is the turn: why Apple has changed the requirements for application developers


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