DellTwenty five years ago, on March 15, 1985, the first commercial dot-com domain name – Symbolics.com – was born. It was one of only six dot-com domain names registered that year (Among the 15 oldest are Northrop.com, Xerox.com, HP.com, IBM.com, Sun.com, Intel.com, TI.com and ATT.com.)

A lot has happened between then and now: the fall of the Berlin wall, the dot com boom and bust, two Gulf wars, Sept. 11, at least one major global economic crisis and the creations of YouTube and Facebook. To give you an impression of the passage of time, REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” had just succeeded “Careless Whisper” by Wham! on the U.S. pop charts.

Today there are more than 80 million websites and the Internet, for many, is nearly as omnipresent as air.

What’s next for the Internet? We posed a few questions to Ken Silva, chief technology officer of VeriSign, which serves as the global registry for .com, .net, .tv, .cc, .name and .jobs domain names.

When was the tipping point for dot-com registrations and what caused it?

A tipping point for .com was in the early- to mid-1990’s with the advent of Internet browsers and consumer PC operating systems.  Prior to the mass adoption of these tools by consumers, there was no compelling reason for organizations to have an Internet presence.  Browsers had a significant impact as people now had a graphical user interface to view Web content.  In addition, operating systems such as Windows 95 had built-in TCP/IP functionality for the user, making it much easier to access the Internet.