Established as one of the original top-level domains (TLDs) of the Internet in 1985, .org has a history almost as long as the Internet itself. For more than 25 years, .org sites have helped create engaged, empowered communities – both online and off – thereby having a tremendous impact on our culture, our economy, and our world.

Derivation of the Internet

During the 1970s, Bob Kahn (an electrical engineer) and Vint Cerf (a computer scientist) collaborated and together designed the architecture and communication protocol that gave rise to the modern Internet. This was during a time when institutions in Europe, Asia, and North America were working on establishing their own computer networks, making the problem of how to join individual networks into a “network of networks” a greater point of focus for the international networking research community.

First domain was launched

The first domain name ever was – registered on March 15, 1985. .com was originally intended for commercial entities – computer manufacturers and/or U.S. Government contractors – that were part of the larger research and development sphere, but their entities were not talking, using the Internet to conduct commerce.

.org was born

The concept of .org was introduced in the mid 1980s as a “catch-all”. While designation for organisations and commonly perceived as exclusive for nonprofits, .org was also the home for all other entities that did not fit under the educational, commercial, or governmental rubric. At the time, .org was operated by Network Solutions.

The first .org domain was – registered on July 10, 1985 by the Mitre Corporation to develop new technology for the U.S. Department of Defense.

World Wide Web

The “World Wide Web” was coined in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee, a software engineering at CERN, the European Organisation for nuclear research. While the term is often used interchangeably with “Internet,” the World Wide Web truly refers to an application – like email, or a file transfer program – that runs on the Internet. In support of the World Wide Web as a new technical structure, Berners-Lee also developed the first implementations of Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and the Universal Document Identifier (UDI).

Perception of .org

With the advent of commerce on the Internet in the 1990s, .org naturally became the trusted home for non-commercial organizations. It was during this period that many longstanding organisations – such as the Red Cross, the United Way, PETA, and the NAACP – first became .orgs in a wave of registrations that solidified public perceptions of the .org domain as the home for such groups.

The Internet Society was founded

Fathers of the Internet, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, founded the Internet Society (ISOC) in 1992 to continue its work for the Internet’s development and deployment across the globe. The mission of this organization was (and is) “to ensure the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for people around the world.”

ICANN was established

In 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) became the private sector administrator of the global domain namespace. The Clinton administration had issued the “White Paper” that created ICANN, which was intended to be a place where industry, civil society, and governments could come together in a bottom-up policy-making process. ICANN encouraged competition in the industry by:

  1. Splitting Network Solutions’ registrar function (the retail sale and registration of domain dames) from its registry function (the maintenance of the master database of domain names for a particular TLD) and opening up the registrar function to competition among multiple companies
  2. Requiring Network Solutions, which had been acquired by Verisign, to relinquish .org, which would be put up for bid. (Verisign was able to maintain the .com registry.)

Public Interest Registry was founded

In 2002, ISOC successfully bid to administer the .org registry, and Public Interest Registry was born, allowing ISOC to continue to play an important role in facilitating the adoption of Internet policies and standards. In keeping with its founding mission, Public Interest Registry was established as an exemplary registry.


In 2009, .org became the first generic TLD to implement Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) as a means to address security vulnerability in the domain name system (DNS).

10 Million and counting!

On June 24, 2012, .org hit the 10 million mark with the registration of the domain!

.org today

Today, .org is the world’s third largest TLD with over 10.4 million registrants across the globe. It is essentially a communal kaleidoscope where action begins – for art and cultural institutions, clubs, sports and teams, environmental, educational, and advocacy groups, as well as scientific, philosophic, and religious organisations.