The Internet as we know it has been part of the mainstream since the early 1990s, but some businesses were ahead of the game long before the phrase "World Wide Web" was even part of our vocabulary. Dozens of businesses staked their claim back in the mid-1980s by registering a commercial dotcom domain name,1 marking the start of the modern Internet. Let's take a closer look at the first 10 trendsetters.
1. Symbolics.com (March 15, 1985)
Symbolics Computer Corporation got a jump on the competition by being the first and oldest of millions of registered dotcom domain names. Once a computer manufacturer, Symbolics.com was sold to XF.com Investments in 2008 and is now the host of an online depository of unique and interesting facts about internet history.
2. BBN.com (April 24, 1985)
Originally Bolt, Beranek and Newman, BBN is known for developing the acoustics for the United Nations building. Additionally, they were the prime contractor for the ARPANET (a military network that was a major precursor to the internet), developing numerous key networking technologies—including Interface Message Processors (IMPs) and the @ sign.2BBN was bought by Raytheon in 2009 and is now known as Raytheon BBN Technologies.
3. Think.com (May 24, 1985)
Thinking Machines Corporation was a supercomputer manufacturer most famous for their Connection Machines. So famous in fact, that those Connection Machines were mentioned in the 1993 film Jurassic Park. But in 1994 they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the hardware portion of their business was purchased by Sun Microsystems. Thinking Machines continued as a pure data mining company until it was finally acquired in 1999 by Oracle Corporation.
4. MCC.com (July 11, 1985)
Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) was the first—and one of the largest—computer industry research and development consortia in the United States, conducting research and development in a range of fields, including system architecture and design, and advanced microelectronics packaging and interconnection. The consortium was eventually dissolved in 2004.
5. DEC.com (September 30, 1985)
Digital Equipment Corporation (also known as Digital) was one of the world's leading manufacturers of mainframes and minicomputers. In 1993, Digital established an external Web server, and was the first computer vendor to open an online store.3 After entering the personal computer market later than its competition, Digital was acquired by Compaq in 1998 (Compaq was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2002).
6. Northrop.com (November 7, 1985)
Northrop Corporation was a leading aircraft manufacturer most famous for its development of the flying wing design, which was prominently featured on the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. In 1994, Northrop bought Grumman to form Northrop Grumman—an American global aerospace and defense technology company that is now the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world.4
7. Xerox.com (January 9, 1986)
Xerox was originally founded in 1906 as a manufacturer of photographic paper and equipment.
Joseph C. Wilson, who has widely been credited as the founder of Xerox, saw huge potential in a process that printed images using an electrically charged drum and dry powder "toner," invented by Chester Carlson. This process was then developed into a commercial product called Xerography (from two Greek roots meaning "dry writing").5 The company changed their name to Haloid Xerox in 1958 and then Xerox Corporation in 1961. The word "Xerox" has become part of our everyday lexicon, used as a synonym for "photocopy"—much to the chagrin of Xerox.6 Despite attempts to prevent this use of the word, many dictionaries continue to list "Xerox" as a verb.
8. SRI.com (January 17, 1986)
The trustees of Stanford University established SRI International in 1946 as a center of innovation to support economic development within the region. At one point they worked with Chevron Corporation to develop an artificial substitute for tallow and coconut oil in soap productions, which was later used by Procter & Gamble as the basis for their Tide laundry detergent. Additionally, SRI provided Walt and Roy Disney with input into the location, attendance patterns, and economic feasibility of their proposal for Disneyland in Burbank, California. Since they were established, SRI has acquired over 1,000 patents and patent applications worldwide.7
9. HP.com (March 3, 1986)
Sound familiar? HP was started by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in a one-car garage in Palo Alto, California. That garage became such an important part of the company's history that it was designated as a California State historical landmark in 1987. HP's first financially successful product was a precision audio oscillator called the Model HP200A, which generated one pure tone or frequency at a time. The technology was used to design, produce, and maintain telephones, stereos, radios, and other audio equipment.8 In 2015, HP split into two companies: Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP. Here's how HP.com has evolved over the years:
10. Bellcore.com (March 5, 1986)
Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) was formed in 1984 when American Telephone and Telegraphy Company (AT&T) broke up into seven Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOC). They provided centralized research and standards coordination for the RBOCs and coordinated security and emergency preparedness for the U.S. government. Bellcore is now known as Telcordia Technologies, Inc., an American subsidiary of Ericsson.
296,000,000 and counting
By the middle of 2015, over 296 million domain names have been registered globally.9 Back in the 1980s, nobody could imagine all of the possibilities of the Internet, but a handful of companies had the foresight to get into the game early and register a dotcom domain name, securing their spot in internet history.
 Jottings.com, The 100 Oldest Currently-Registered .Com Domains
 openmap.bbn.com, The First Network Email
 USC.edu, Digital Equipment Corporation: The Internet Company
 Bloomberg.com, Northrop Grumman Raises Outlook as Profit Beats Estimates, April 29, 2015
 Xerox.com, Chester Carlson and Xerography
 New York Times, The Power of the Brand as Verb, July 18, 2009
 SRI International, R&D for Government and Business
 HP Garage Timeline
 Verisign, Domain Name Industry Brief