[ih] .ARPA meaning change (Re: Dot Com etc)

Harald Alvestrand harald at alvestrand.no
Fri Feb 18 01:35:58 PST 2011

On 01/21/10 00:27, Vint Cerf wrote:
> Louis, thanks for reminding us about the interim use of .arpa until 
> registration of names in the other 7 TLDs occurred. I'd forgotten 
> about that. Later, .arpa was used for reverse lookup and other 
> infrastructure mechanisms.
There's a short history of '.arpa' in RFC 3172, September 2001, which 
documents the change from "Arpanet" to its current meaning, dating it to 
"during 2000". The -00 version of draft-iab-arpa is dated April 2001, 
Geoff Huston edited it.

I distinctly remember coming up with the "Address and Routing Parameter 
Area" backronym during an IESG call - must have been in my 1995-1999 
tenure, or possibly my memory is faulty and it was during my 1999-2001 
IAB tenure...

> v
> On Jan 20, 2010, at 6:05 PM, Louis Mamakos wrote:
>> There was, of course, the .ARPA domain that came first.  One day, all 
>> of the hosts in the SRI-NIC's HOSTS.TXT file grew aliases with the 
>> .ARPA suffix.  For some period of time during the transition to the 
>> operational DNS, the NIC continued to add hosts with domain names 
>> (other than .ARPA) to the HOSTS.TXT file.
>> I suppose the real "flag day" for the DNS was when the HOSTS.TXT file 
>> stopped getting updated or distributed.
>> The HOSTS.TXT file also contained (classfull) network names as 
>> networks were allocated out of the IPv4 address space.  I don't think 
>> this capability was really ever reimplemented in the DNS, especially 
>> when CIDR and classless network prefxes came on the scene and you 
>> couldn't obviously identify the "network" number by examination.   
>> Few programs really depended on this, and now we've got WHOIS and the 
>> like to bang against the registrars.
>> Louis Mamakos
>> On Jan 20, 2010, at 5:42 PM, Jack Haverty wrote:
>>> Hi Bob!
>>> I also have the feeling that Jon put the list together, since as I
>>> recall he was the only one of us organized enough to deal with such
>>> things...
>>> As to *why* that initial list was chosen, my recollection is that it
>>> simply reflected the demographics of the emerging "Internet community"
>>> at the time.  There were lots of governmental entities and lots of
>>> schools.  The "rest of world" were commercial, or companies.
>>> Plus it was likely that someone from each TLD subgroup would step up 
>>> and
>>> volunteer to be the coordinator/arbitrator of name etiquette within 
>>> that
>>> subgroup.  You couldn't have a TLD unless there was someone willing to
>>> manage it.
>>> The nascent Internet was very US-centric, again reflecting the
>>> demographics.  Gov meant US government.  Com was US companies, weighted
>>> toward government contractors such as BBN or Linkabit - I can't recall
>>> any non-US companies being involved until later in the game.
>>> I think .com originally was derived from "company" rather than
>>> "commercial".  The .com's weren't thought of as "businesses" in the
>>> sense of places that consumers go to buy things.  They were companies
>>> doing government contract work.  The Internet was not chartered to
>>> interconnect businesses - it was a military command-and-control
>>> prototype network, being built by educational, governmental, and
>>> contractors.  If anybody had suggested that businesses were to be
>>> included, it would have raised flotillas of red flags in the
>>> administrative ranks of government and PTTs.  Hence .com -- not .biz.
>>> I don't recall anybody ever thinking we were creating an organizational
>>> structure to encompass hundreds of millions of entities covering the
>>> entire planet in support of all human activities.  And it certainly
>>> wasn't supposed to last for 30+ years, even as an experiment.  It just
>>> happened to turn out that way.
>>> IIRC, there weren't any major debates or counterproposals or such about
>>> TLDs.  The TLD list just wasn't that big a deal (at the time).  The
>>> Internet was an *experiment* which, like all experiments, was supposed
>>> to end.  CCITT, ISO, and such organizations were inventing the official
>>> technologies for the future of data communications.  We know now how
>>> that turned out   Whatever TLD list and such was used in the Internet
>>> wasn't supposed to last long.  So a specific logistical decision like
>>> the TLD list wasn't all that important - at the time.
>>> I agree that whatever discussion happened was almost certainly carried
>>> out mostly on the email lists which served as the primary way for
>>> everybody to interact between quarterly meetings, and then Jon and crew
>>> most likely put the initial list together, and there wasn't any real
>>> opposition so it became real.
>>> It's very difficult to identify who "invented" anything in those days.
>>> There was lots of discussions, ideas, and strawmen passed around in
>>> emails and then eventually somebody wrote the document or wrote the 
>>> code
>>> to capture the "rough consensus" of the discussion.
>>> /Jack
>>> On Wed, 2010-01-20 at 13:18 -0800, Bob Braden wrote:
>>>> internet-history-request at postel.org wrote:
>>>>>> Does anyone know why .com; .edu and .gov were chosen? I know it 
>>>>>> seems
>>>>>> simple, but why .com instead of something like .biz?
>>>> I recall seeing those TLD names on Jon's white board at the time. I 
>>>> feel
>>>> quite certain that they came out of Jon's head, but were ratified by
>>>> discussions with Paul.
>>>> Bob Braden

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