Happy Birthday, DNS: almost unnoticed by the public Domain Name System will celebrate its 35th birthday in November 2022 celebrated. Only with the DNS was the Internet opened up for people and companies and thus became the global means of communication as we know it today.
The desire to use a simpler and more memorable addressing system dates back to the days of the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency). In order to enable the connection of individual local networks of US universities and institutions, a central file called HOSTS.TXT was originally set up and maintained at the Stanford Research Institute. With the increasing spread of the Internet, however, it became impossible to manage all computers and networks in such a central file. The American computer scientist Paul Mockapetris (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) therefore established the principle of a distributed and dynamic network accessible from any computer and described DNS in the two RFCs 882 and 883 for the first time in 1983. The abbreviation RFC stands for »Request for Comments«; they are technical documents that define internet standards. The two RFCs 882 and 883 finally became RFCs 1034 and 1035 in November 1987. They described the standards on which modern DNS is built for the first time – the Domain Name System was born.
A lot has happened around DNS in the past 35 years. It has now lost its innocence as a purely technical resource. Governments, the private sector and civil society seek to influence in a variety of ways, leading to ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. While in the beginning it was primarily about protecting intellectual property, the question often arises as to how DNS can be made even more secure and at the same time less nationally fragmented in order to preserve it as a global resource. This is hardly possible without the constructive and productive voluntary cooperation of all stakeholders; if the consent of all interest groups cannot be achieved, a “rough consensus” is often required, which is also described in the early days of the DNS. Nevertheless, such an anniversary gives us all reason to look back on the considerable work and development of the past decades and to be grateful that we have access to a technical infrastructure that has revolutionized the world like no other.
If you want to know more: Tobias Sattler, Board Director of the internet administration ICANN (PTI) and former CTO of the Starnberg domain registrar united-domains.de (whose project this newsletter is), has at dnsscience.org launched a project that deals scientifically with DNA. There you will find numerous references to specialist articles such as “Ethereum Name Service: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, “Where .ru?: assessing the impact of conflict on russian domain infrastructure” or a thesis on the topic “Zum Schutz von Domains from the point of view of competition and trademark law«. The database is freely accessible and available free of charge.