News and analysis
July 13, 2015

Dot-Org Turns 30

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.

mitre.org on November 11, 1996

amnesty.org on October 28, 1996
 
cancer.org on October 31, 1996

unicef.org on January 22, 1997
 
npr.org on January 25, 1999

creativecommons.org on June 2, 2002
 

Send an e-mail to Rebecca Koenig.