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2.1. The history of domain names Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
2.1. The history of domain names

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2.1. The history of domain names

2.1. The history of domain names

The impetus for the development of the domain system was growth in the Internet:

  • Host name to address mappings were maintained by the Network Information Center (NIC) in a single file (HOSTS.TXT) which was FTPed by all hosts [RFC-952, RFC-953]. The total network bandwidth consumed in distributing a new version by this scheme is proportional to the square of the number of hosts in the network, and even when multiple levels of FTP are used, the outgoing FTP load on the NIC host is considerable. Explosive growth in the number of hosts didn't bode well for the future.

  • The network population was also changing in character. The timeshared hosts that made up the original ARPANET were being replaced with local networks of workstations. Local organizations were administering their own names and addresses, but had to wait for the NIC to change HOSTS.TXT to make changes visible to the Internet at large. Organizations also wanted some local structure on the name space.

  • The applications on the Internet were getting more sophisticated and creating a need for general purpose name service.

The result was several ideas about name spaces and their management [IEN-116, RFC-799, RFC-819, RFC-830]. The proposals varied, but a common thread was the idea of a hierarchical name space, with the hierarchy roughly corresponding to organizational structure, and names using "." as the character to mark the boundary between hierarchy levels. A design using a distributed database and generalized resources was described in [RFC-882, RFC-883]. Based on experience with several implementations, the system evolved into the scheme described in this memo.

The terms "domain" or "domain name" are used in many contexts beyond the DNS described here. Very often, the term domain name is used to refer to a name with structure indicated by dots, but no relation to the DNS. This is particularly true in mail addressing [Quarterman 86].

Next: 2.2. DNS design goals

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
2.1. The history of domain names


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