Monday, April 25, 2016

BPN 1723: Dutch country suffix .nl 30 years

Today it is 30 years since the country suffix .nl was inaugurated. Furthermore, the first land suffix was in use. The designation of countries was coined in the Netherlands.

Dutch internet pioneers Jaap Akkerhuis, Daniel Karrenberg, Teus Hagen en Piet Beertema (right) at the pensioning event of  Piet Beertema on 16 September 2004. Source: CWI.

In the Netherlands, the Mathematical Centre (MC) in Amsterdam in 1982 was in contact with Arpanet and played a role  an important role in the UUCP network of European universities. MC became the network gateway between the US and Europe. Domain names were released by Arpanet, but in 1986 a shortage of the domain names threatened for the 25,000 computers connected to the UUCP network of universities and the Arpanet. Piet Beertema, employee at MC (but from 1983 onwards CWI, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica) came up with the solution of a country suffix in the domain name. John Postel from the Stanford Research Institute, responsible for the domain names, approved the country suffix dot country code as a proper instrument.

And on April 25, 1986 the suffix .nl was allocated to the Netherlands. The Netherlands was the first country with its own country code. On May 1, 1986 the first Dutch domain name was registered. The next domains were: (association of professional Open Systems and Open Standards users in the Netherlands); (The National Institute for Nuclear Physics and High Energy Physics); (university of Groningen) and  (Collaborating academic computing centers). Piet Beertema was the registrar and recorded the domain names. In the first two years he was not very busy, as he only registered 60 domains in his notebook. In 1989 there was only one registered domain name. Apart from academic computer centers companies could also register a domain name, but they had to show their Chamber of Commerce registration paper.

The slow growth was due to the transformation that internet underwent. Arpanet decided to continue as the military internet branch and the National Science Foundation became responsible in 1988 for academic and commercial NSFnet. On November 17, 1988, at 14:30 pm Piet Beertema linked The Netherlands as one of the first countries outside the US to the academic network NSFnet. The Netherlands brought the first, non-military, transatlantic connection to the Web.

This connection did give a boost to internet use in the academic world. But the registration of domain names only really took off from 1993, when the Dutch ISP XS4ALL on May 1 launched its Internet services to consumers on May 1, ending the first day with 500 subscriptions. And the Internet began in earnest, when the Digital City opened its gates and businesses did not know how fast they had to register a domain name in order to have an internet profile. Over the following years registration of domain names increased. In order to keep pace the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands (SIDN) was founded. On January 31, 1996 the tasks of the CWI were transferred to SIDN.

End of March 2016, more than 5.6 million domain names were registered with SIDN (see SIDN statistics). The Netherlands is the fourth in the ranking of number of domain names with a country code (country code Top Level Domain - ccTLD).The Netherlands is preceded by .cn, .de and .uk.


Wytze van der Raay said...

In 1986, the World Wide Web had not been invented yet. So names like, etc did not make any sense at that time. Besides, registering a domain at country level only involves the main name -- i.e.,, etc.

Jak Boumans said...

Dear Wytze, You are right. There was only a domain registration. I will correct the domains. Thanks