On March 15, 1985, REO Speedwagon was topping the U.S. charts. Almost as importantly, that was the day a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based computer manufacturer, with the perfectly dotcom-ish name Symbolics, purchased symbolics.com, the world’s first .com address.
Symbolics came out of MIT’s AI Lab, and its Lisp machines have gone down in history as the first commercially available workstations, i.e. the type of single-person computer designed for technical and scientific work that were common before the personal computing model became standard. Symbolics seems to have been a big player in technical and scientific computing, as well as making a number of advances in user environments. The firm’s Wikipedia entry is surprisingly robust.
By at least 1998, the Symbolics domain had been taken over by Symbolics Technologies, as evidenced by the earliest entry in the Wayback Machine. Symbolics Technologies was basically a holding company that arose to service old Symbolics machines. That company’s site has since changed.
In 2009, four years after the death of then-Symbolics owner Andrew Topping, Symbolics.com was sold to domain broker XF.com for an undisclosed sum. XF has subsequently turned Symbolics.com into a goofball infographic-filled caricature of a holding site, and it’s obvious that the firm is waiting for the next buyer interested in the world’s oldest domain to stroll along. It’s kind of a sad state of affairs for the first domain ever, but I suppose it stands as proof that nothing is sacred on the Internet.
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