This question originally appeared on Quora: How much did the apple.com domain name cost? Answer by Dan Birchall, sustainability and STEM.
Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 and didn’t return until 1996. The Apple.com domain name was registered on February 19, 1987, while he was off running NeXT Computers and Pixar.
Clearly, he would have had nothing to do with registering the Apple domain.
So, you ask, how much did somebody at Apple pay for the domain name?
Surprised again? Well, at that point in time, nobody had gotten the idea that domain registration should be a commercial product. It was all funded by a government contract, and the only “cost” was the time involved in submitting paperwork.
The internet was still the ARPAnet, with ultimate authority for most things resting with DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Domain registration was handled by the Defense Data Network Network Information Center (DDN-NIC) at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), conveniently located 15 miles from Apple, from 1972 to 1990.
In 1991, a new contract was granted to Government Systems, Inc. (GSI) which sub-contracted it to Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI). Eventually, as .com filled up with more and more non-defense companies, DARPA gave control of it to the National Science Foundation (NSF) starting in 1993, and Network Solutions got the NSF contract too. But it wasn’t until 1995 that the NSF let Network Solutions charge actual fees.
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