Saturday, January 17, 2004
The origin of "dot" in Internet Names:
If I really did it, probably the thing I did that became the most famous was being the first to suggest that internet addresses be in the form site 'dot' toplevel-domain.

I recently read an article claiming that 'dot' as in 'dot-com' was the 'most useful word of the year' as chosen by the American Dialect Society -- the most widespread addition to the language. And it certainly has become a convention that literally the whole educated world has come to know.

It sparked a memory that long, long ago I had been in arguments with people in various areas about how multi-level names should be written. Suggestions included user@site@domain, user%site@domain and the leader, based on a proposed standards document, People only thought in terms of adding a second level in those days, and the 'domain' was thought of as a 'forwarder' -- a top level site that would know the sites underneath it and handle their mail.

(Before this addresses had been one level -- user@site where the 'user' was sometimes a magic string that implied mail forwarding to other sites, notably UUCP ones.)

For valid reasons, I thought it made sense to have the user part on the left of the at-sign and the computer part on the right hand side, and that the levels on the right hand side should be divided by dots. So I said that was bad but user@site.forwarder would be better.

I searched and found the earliest suggestion of mine to this effect in the 12th issue of the TCP/IP digest -- the ARPANET mailing list where the TCP/IP protocol and the future convetions of the internet were being discussed."

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