On July 10, 1985, dot-org was born.
That was the registration day of the first website to use the Internet domain, mitre.org, owned by a nonprofit that operates federal research centers.
As the domain turns 30, its administrator, Public Interest Registry, is celebrating with a commemorative digital timeline, happy30th.org, which depicts when popular nonprofit websites were founded.
One of the original top-level domains, dot-org was conceived as online real estate for nonprofits. About 10.5 million websites are now registered with dot-org, although not all of them are affiliated with mission-based organizations. Among those that are is creativecommons.org, run by a nonprofit that creates copyright licenses to expand the available creative works for the public to use. It signed up for its dot-org website in 2001, when it was founded.
"Initially it was a really good differentiator between nonprofits or NGOs and the work that they do in relation to the rest of the web, especially the commercial web," said Timothy Vollmer, public-policy manager at Creative Commons. Although that distinction has eroded a bit as more organizations have registered with the domain, he said, it’s still "an indicator of a worldwide nonprofit status or an organization that’s working in the public good."
Below are snapshots from the old days of dot-org sites, courtesy of the Wayback Machine, an Internet archive.