Gopher was developed in the early 1990s at the University of Minnesota, and is considered one of the predecessors to the modern web. One of the earliest protocols for searching and retrieving documents over the internet, it was the de-facto engine for online users prior to the rise of web based services.
It was initially designed as a menu driven, text based system, which was ideal for remote computer terminals of the day. The system included the ability to tap into the Archie and Veronica search engines, and gateways to FTP, BBS, and UseNet. It’s low bandwidth protocol was preferred by network administrators over HTTP in those early days, and adding to it’s rapid adoption was the ability to easily setup a Gopher server on campus networks.
As the web began to rise and the first browsers like Mosaic appeared, those programs started consuming Gopher services as part of their functions. HTML based documents also offered a more free form way of searching and retrieving. Although it planted the seeds for modern search engines and was one of the earliest online electronic libraries, it was supplanted by the HTTP protocol and the World Wide Web as it exploded into commercial use.
Despite being eclipsed by it’s big brother, there is an active user community and Gopher is still in use today.
On March 15th, 1985 Symbolic Computers registered the first .com domain, symbolic.com, becoming the first company in history to register a top level domain. It still exists to this day and is used as the personal blog of Aron Meystedt, owner of xf.com, which acquired the domain in August of 2009. Growth of the Internet between then and 1997 was significantly slow, with the 1 millionth .com registered that year. This was primarily because of the lack of consumer use of the web during the 80s and 90s. During that period, it was used mostly by academic and scientific users. With the introduction of the Mosaic web browser in 1992, more people connected to the fledgling web.
Today the internet offers a plethora of services and information, including shopping, social networking, travel, research and learning, and entertainment. It has grown well beyond its intended purpose and an estimated 1.7 billion people now use the internet. That’s a quarter of the world’s population! Clearly the web has become an integral part of our daily lives. It’s estimated an average of 668,000 .com domains are registered every day. A list of the 100 oldest existing .coms is available from DNS Knowledge@ http://dnsknowledge.com/news/25-years-of-the-com/. Verisign now logs 53 billion requests for .com websites every day, the same number handled for all of 1995.