What is a domain name?

– definition and history of domain names.

The system of using a name as a more human-legible form of a machine’s (web host in our case) address on the network has been happening since long past.

What is a domain name..A Domain name is what you type in your browser address bar. In www.cnn.com, cnn is the domain name. Technically it is equivalent of the IP address of the name. IP (Internet protocol) address is what Internet works on. It is not practical for anyone to remember numbers like Hence an easy method has been created in the form of domain names. On the Internet domain names are handled by DNS (Domain Name severs) servers. You register your name at the Internet domain registrars. An example of which is nsi.com


Originally, each computer on the network kept a file called HOSTS.TXT which mapped an address to a name (technically, this file still exists – most modern operating systems either by default or through configuration, can check their Hosts file to match a URL to an IP address before checking the DNS). Currently in a twist, hosts files are also being misused by the numerous spywares affecting Internet to direct traffic to destructive sites or to the adwares beneficiaries.

However, such a system had inherent limitations, because of the obvious requirement that every time a given computer’s address changed, every single system that wanted to communicate with that computer would need an update to its Hosts file.

Function of the DNS or Domain Name Server:

The growth of networking called for a more scalable system: one which recorded a change in a host’s address only in one place, and in which other hosts would learn about the change dynamically. This is the function of DNS or domain name system.

Paul Mockapetris invented the DNS in 1983. Today when you ask for cnn.com, you are contacting the domain name servers on the Internet to provide you with the IP address of the cnn.com. They provide it to you over succession of contacts with other DNS servers on the DNS hierarchy. Your browser finally gets the IP and then you get connected to the cnn.com. With out the DNS you would have had to remember the IP address of the cnn.com which is highly impractical.

Next: The right domain name

Quotable Quotes:

“One of the great pleasures of life is doing the things
that others say you cannot do”