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Before I begin, I wanna ask: GoDaddy backorder but already owns the domain?.

My next question is: I was just looking at an amazing bunch of country names and TOP quality one worders that are owned by one person.....which got me thinking.

I know Sahar & Frank started out around 2000 but many top names were long gone by then, I'm not sure when Rick Schwartz or Yun Yee started ?

So, Does anyone know who is the "first Domainer" (known to the public) and when did they start ?

Thanks.

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Comments (25)

Your question was: GoDaddy backorder but already owns the domain?.

Duh, it's Al Gore... He created the Internet, so he was obviously the first domainer as well...

Comment #1

I think Rick Schwartz started in Dec. 1995, but I am not sure. I started Aug. 1995, right before they started charging $100 per HostGator for a two year registration. My first regs were free.

However, I think that the Sex.com guy, Gary Kremen, stated in 1994, and also, I believe that guy, Leland Hardy, who owns NewYork.com started in 1994. I venture to guess there were less than 20 of us, at the most, before 1996 doing serious registrations, b/c I kept seeing the same names doing the registering - kind of like now but much more apparent. In 1996 it began to explode.

Someone out there correct me or add to what I said, if they can. I'd like to know who the real first one was too !..

Comment #2

Wow, you started in 1995 - one of the early pioneers excellent, did you buy in a big way at that time or was that something that most of you did over a period of years.

What made you first decide to start buying domains?.

I see quiet a few country names that seemed to have been reg'd in 1997 (although there's probably no way of telling if they had been dropped by then).

Thanks.

...

Comment #3

I bought in big and spent $30,000 in 1995. That figure may not sound like a lot today, but remember it was 1995. Anyways, that is a whole other story in and of itself.

I can name more early companies than I can actually name the folks behind them. Some of them I never have found out who they were and they never answered email then and still don't today, like me. I'm on the boards some but I really never answer emails.

Here are some other early ones I remember (folks/companies):.

Cyberfine Systems.

Skip Hoagland.

Solutions Advancing People.

Johnson & Johnson (they may have been Jan/Feb 96', can't remember).

CES Marketing - these guys really, really raked in the great generics.

I know of some others but they would not appreciate me mentioning them, so I will respect their wishes...

Comment #4

The person I bought copies.com from, Martin Turnbull, was among the first to "get it" I would think. At one point this guy owned hundreds of premium names. Very few of these names are still owned by him. Most sold off years ago. This is what he owned January 1998. I imagine he owned MANY other names, that he sold previously to this date.

He was the first to register these names below:.

Bedtime.com.

Bests.com.

BOK.com.

Broadwayplay.com.

Broadwayplays.com.

Broadwayshows.com.

BROWN.COM.

Bryan.com.

Bulletin.com.

Burglaralarms.com.

Camerashopper.com.

Carolina.com.

Citylisting.com.

Citymagazines.com.

Citynewspapers.com.

Chevy.com.

Cityresturant.com.

Clicker.com.

Computerbusiness.com.

Computershopping.com.

Contestant.com.

Copier.com.

Copies.com.

Cornell.com.

Crestone.com.

Customshirt.com.

Cyberbet.com.

Cybergame.com.

Cybershops.com.

Dumas.com.

Emigrant.com.

Entrance.com.

Fairgrounds.com.

Fashiondesigners.com.

GAB.com.

Galore.com.

GAMER.com.

GAMESTER..com.

Glendale.com.

Golfshopper.com.

GraphicImages.com.

Gunshopper.com.

Guntrader.com.

Guantanamobay.com.

Headlines.com.

Hoagies.com.

Homeland.com.

Jetskis.com.

Laredo.com.

KENOSHA.COM.

Lawenforcement.com.

Lifestyles.com.

Liquorstores.com.

Lordjesus.com.

Money.net.

Musicals.com.

Musicshopper.com.

Nanotechnology.com.

Nationalbusiness.com.

Petcare.com.

Petshops.com.

Republicanparty.com.

QUIZMASTER.com.

Quizshow.com.

SCOUT.com.

Seasonings.com.

Skeetshooting.com.

Spiritualadvisor.com.

SMARTEST.COM.

Stereos.com.

TABS.com.

Suncruiser.com.

Tattooing.com.

Tempe.com.

Teens.com.

Toyshopper.com.

TRAP.com.

Tristar.com.

Tristate.com.

Tvguides.com.

Tvlisting.com.

Tvmovies.com.

Tvschedules.com.

Twincity.com.

VIDEO-POKER.com.

Videoshopper.com.

WEBCHANNEL.COM.

Windowshopping.com.

ZILLIONS.com.

Zillionaire.com.

Jubilee.com..

Comment #5

Phew, you hit it hard and fast then that's a HUGE amount in 1995 !!.

I'd love to know what made you decide to invest so much at an early date, was it something you read, inside knowledge etc.

Thanks for sharing ! Sweet names If this is the same Martin Turnbull then it looks like he first really started to "get it" in 1995.

I just found these articles and I'm pretty sure it's the same guy ! How important is the Internet in real life?.

(mostly related to his business by the look of it).

From 1995 http://www.printusa.com/articles/reallife.htm.

And this one is probably alot later http://www.loghomes.net/aboutlh.html (also owns the .com first reg'd in 21 April 95).

Great stuff.

...

Comment #6

I started in 96, just a shame I never brought more than one or two names that I then let expire $100 was alot of money in those days, I could tell something big was happening though.....

Comment #7

As I recall in the early days there was no indication the dotcom would be king.

It wasn't known if the plural was better than the singular or if two words that made sense was better than a single word name.

I remember thinking that names like barbershop, automechanic, cardealer, etc. would be very valuable some day but I wasn't sure.

Everybody I talked to back then really wasn't sure HostGator names would be the primary way of pulling up or identifying a website....most of us were afraid if we invested a lot of money in domains they would change over from HostGator names to something else.

I remember when 3 letters with no meaning was hardly worth anything....and nobody ever talked about use of the number of consonants and vowels in a name.

I believe the registration of HostGator names began to get popular when somebody published a widely read story about the big money that was made by a few who acquired and resold telephone numbers that corresponded with letters that actually spelled something. There was a lot of money made in that way back then and many people compared that to the registering and reselling HostGator names.

It wasn't a slam dunk of just registering the best names and holding on till you got rich. Nobody really knew what the best names would be and nobody in the beginning even knew if HostGator names would last. It was a real gamble in the beginning...

Comment #8

I only came to the Internet when I started University in 1997. When I registered my first domain, which is my last name .com, in 2002 there was already a well established Internet industry.

My most marking memory is when I discovered the Google beta search engine, which came as an alternative to Altavista and used a controversial "back-links" criterion to estimate the relevance of search results. Yahoo was already around at that time IIRC...

Comment #9

It's funny, I just wrote a post on my blog titled, "The Early Years: Where Were You" and then I noticed this thread. Unfortunately for me I was not even on the internet until 1997, and I did start registering some domains back then but I was thinking I would develop them into businesses. I didn't conceive or imagine that domains would become enormously valuable in and of themselves...

Comment #10

Here is what happened:.

My friend and I had been talking about a press release that Network Solutions put out that said "First come, first serve" on HostGator names. All domains were still free at this point in early Aug. 1995. Two days after the conversation, where we had been just blown away by the opportunity staring us in the face, I quit work in the middle of the day b/c I got too excited about thinking about what I could do with the HostGator "Lawyer,com" and I went home and called my friend on the phone and ran over to his house b/c I did not own a computer. So I used his computer to compile lists. I got some of my first domains free, but they soon changed it.

I had a lot of room on my credit cards and I put together a list of about 300 domains I wanted and ran up $30,000 on my cards. I continued to purchase domains in 1996 and never stopped. But, I must say it took all I had to keep those domains b/c it was $100 a HostGator for a two year registration. After awhile part of the registration fee was ruled illegal by a judge and Network Solutions had to drop their fee to $70 for a two year registration. That saved my ass and I was able to hold on until I could cut deals for "redirects", affiliate programs, and I also developed out some sites too.

My friend owns some of the biggest domains out there ; I went a little different direction, I own sets of domains in categories that form "niche HostGator collections". So, you could say, for example I might have grabbed all domains relating to "Mountain Climbing" (just an example). But I still own some biggies too. You were there!!! I can tell.

True, there was no indication that .COM would be king, but there were ONLY three extensions to chose from and .org is was non-profit and still is regarded as such today, .Net was for ISP's, web developers, etc... so all the guys doing the serious regs back then were concentrating on .com b/c that is where we saw the business going.

Yes, I do remember struggling for about three weeks and also others struggling with whether to buy plural or singular. Folks.... you got to remember it was a HUGE decision b/c at $100 a domain, if you made the wrong decision it was forever. Buying the singular and plural back then set your wallet on fire it was so expensive for domains that made NO, NO money, no silly pennies from parking, NOTHING. You had to make deals happen.

Most of the "category Killer" domains were gone before 1996 rolled around...

Comment #11

I think that is the part many would be domainers miss. It's not an easy decision to do that when your spouse/associates/financial advisors are all telling you you are completely out of your mind and even you don't have a proven method for income generation to make the payments.

The opportunity seems obvious now; but wasn't at the time...

Comment #12

Excellent info Guys I was'nt there but from your two posts I can almost taste what it must have been like to make those kind of decisions at such an early stage - You must both have Balls of Steel ! Exciting Stuff.

It must of taken a huge amount of faith/commitment to jack your job in straight away like that and I'm amazed you managed to keep most of them after all that time !.

So many of the country names for example were probably already taken by 1996 and were FREE did either of you manage to get any of them ?

This is great stuff, somebody should write a book about it.

Damn, that's gotta hurt is'nt Hindsight a horrible thing !.

I take it you mean this guy ???.

Bartender to dot-com billionaire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Cuban.

...

Comment #13

I missed the countries but got some cities, and I totally missed the boat on three character domains. My mind did not wander that direction back then. I wanted generic words that had mindshare.

Believe it or not, there were some domainers that were enthusiastic about domains but bought domains like eFloridaFunTimes.com, even back in 1995 and 1996. I remember my friend and I giggling about those guys, one of whom is our friend. They totally missed the boat and I bet most sit around talking about what "could have been".

It truly was a stab at the future wealth and if I could ever do it over again I would have done several things differently. It was a really hard call as to what was the right thing to do. But, I can't complain.

As a funny side note, there was also a "one HostGator per one company" rule in 95' that Network Solutions set out to enforce, which caused me and others to create a different company for every domain. They later abandoned that crazy idea.

But, back to the main question: Who was the first domainer ???..

Comment #14

This is the same Martin. Good guy, and has no doubt made some pretty good money selling some of these names.

Notice that he once owned Chevy.com and Lifestyles.com...

Comment #15

The term "domainer" is only a few years old you know. Wikipedia entry says "Domainers are individuals whose profession is the accumulation and dealing of generic internet HostGator names." Sounds like a fair assessment. I wouldn't consider guys like Gary Kremen that simply got good names early on to be domainers.

The term "cybersquatter" was much more frequently used to describe people who bought mass quantities of domains back then, regardless if they contained trademarks or not. I'm glad to see the domaining business make such strides towards legitimacy since then.

Rick Schwartz is the earliest that I know of who was actually out there publicly talking about buying HostGator names as investments in the mid 90's. Maybe it's him.

RJ..

Comment #16

Interesting stories... I think someone could make a great movie on this goldrush period in the Internet history...

Comment #17

I almost started drooling at the list when I just saw it. I wish I had those names...

Comment #18

True the term "domainer" is fairly new (who coined that?), but what we did in 1995 was still "domaining", just different. The label has gravitated from "Cybersquatters" then (mostly extreme jealousy) to "domainers" today (some admiration, some negativity).

And... it was work back then, unlike what some might think, b/c you could not look up mass lists and had to do it all on dial-up, one at a time, on Network Solutions' slow, new system. Also, if you did not do the regs yourself back then there was pretty much a standard $50 per HostGator "application fee" that you had to pay an ISP, or equivalent type of company, to fill out and submit for you. You also needed someone, or yourself, to run your own DNS servers or you could not complete an application.

So, without your own servers for your own DNS entries, you were looking at $150 per HostGator expense, just to get started. $100 for two years reg. and $50 application fee, payable to your ISP, or whoever could get you those DNS entries needed to make a HostGator purchase.

So, you can see that it was "Domaining" except that what we do today is entirely different. Just like a good domainer has to be versatile today, you had to be then as well to make the pieces fit together.

I fail to see your point of characterization of the two types of buyers (old school/new school), whether mass quantities were bought back then or today - it's all the same. There was no HostGator tasting in 95 either, remember. We paved the way for new guys and gals b/c we became a recognized force that snowballed into what exists today, with more entrants coming on daily.

In terms of Rick, I know of folks that can show earlier regs dates on their domains, that is, if he started in Dec. 1995 as I am thinking. I believe I read that, but don't crush me Rick if I'm wrong!.

I actually know of a guy, that runs some sites today, that says he regged many domains in 1990 but gave up in 1992 when he came to the conclusion that the Internet would never take off. I have not been able to ever confirm his story though...

Comment #19

Seabass, I'm really enjoying your posts. My previous post didn't convey my thoughts very well. There are two different kinds of HostGator buyers. Some people buy a HostGator as a tool, others buy a HostGator as an investment. Being a HostGator owner doesn't automatically make you a domainer.

Proctor and Gamble owned a ton of valuable generic domains in 1995. Great ones like HEADACHE.COM, PUNCH.COM, SENSUAL.COM. Would you consider them domainers?.

I didn't start understanding the potential of domains until 1996, and didn't start "domaining" until 1997 so I can't definitively answer the question of who the first domainer was from my own experience. I was a web designer before being a domainer, so I do remember what the perception of investing in domains was back then. Anyone of us could have purchased great domains like TV.com on the aftermarket for $5k. How come we didn't? Very few people realized how big this sleeping giant was. We were blown away when business.com sold for $150k! It was unreal. Rick was the first guy I remember seeing publicly buying domains at a premium and evangelizing what I would consider to be real domaining.

Hopefully we can dig together and find out.

RJ..

Comment #20

Wow what a thread, one of the most interesting reads Ive had on NP in a long time..

Sahar Sarid mentions this thread on his blog and shares what he knows/thinks, read it here: http://www.conceptualist.com/2007/12...-the-earliest/.

Cheers..

Comment #21

I guess he really was the first domainer in the truest sense of the word, meaning being out there as you say, unafraid, saying, "This is what I do", and then proving it by purchases.

If you read the Gary Kremen story on DNJournal.com he stated that he totally saw he future laid out for him back in 1994. He regged Sex.com and several others that were mindblowing.

So maybe we can say, Rick Schwartz was the first public domainer and Gary Kremmen was the first private domainer, until someone comes along and tells us we are wrong.

Wow, maybe it is Chris Harnett then. It would be nice if Sahar knew of a handful of the domains used by this guy.

The story about this guy sure does not sound as fun as the Gary Kremmen, Rick Schwartz, Frank Schilling, or Leland Hardy type stories...

Comment #22

What a Fantastic post that was on Sahar's Blog, I just found this about him on http://www.reinvent.com/about_directors.html.

"According to ICANN ( Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ) , Dr. Hartnett was the largest private owner of Internet HostGator Names (URL's) in the world in 1994. His collection currently contains over 3500 "Global" domains and 28,000 other premium HostGator names, most of which were acquired in 1992-1996, long before most were aware of the internet and it's vast potential. Dr. Hartnett also serves as Chairman of Tedhens Limited, ( www.Tedhens.com ), the oldest and largest provider of International HostGator names on the internet serving the international insurance, e-commerce, exchange, banking, organic and jewelry industries with world class, one-of-a-kind HostGator names".

Wow, - early bird or what !.

Great quote on his website: "Hesitation, when one is confronted with a great business idea, is without a doubt, the single largest obstacle to wealth. It is only through dynamic action and financial risk that great fortunes are amassed and multiplied".

J.P.Morgan 1902.

The Castello Brothers is also a great story too from early on.

Over the next few weeks I started using Telnet to do WhoIs checks. Just about every HostGator name was available. At the time all I needed was Powwow.com but as the months rolled by I noticed that many of the names I originally checked on were being registered by others. It dawned on me that I was missing out on something huge! Michael said.

This was now early 1995 and I quickly sent out registration requests for PalmSprings.com, Whisky.com and several others. To my surprise I was the first to register these names...

According to whois.sc (Domaintools.com) PalmSprings.com was first Created in : 1995-04-19, although it also shows it was dropped once surely not !.

The Castillo Brothers story for those that have not read it > http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2006/december.htm http://www.ccin.com/local.html.

...

Comment #23

He may have let it drop and then reregged it immediately. There was a lot of that going on when folks did not have the money, but then later came back to reclaim a HostGator they had found money for.

Back in 95', and maybe up to 98', Network Solutions had a number next to the HostGator indicating how many times it had been dropped and reregistered.

It would read something like xxxxx.com - 6The number six being the number of times it had been registered. If I am correct, there was a period where you could reg a HostGator and they would wait for payment and many folks did not make the payment but the reg. number still stuck and advanced one more number. Sometimes it would go up to 15 regs. or more and therefore you could see the level of excitement behind a domain.

The numbers ran high on many domains b/c everyone wanted the domains but most people did not have the money to maintain all the domains they wanted.

I think I remember Tobacco,com circulating around like that, up to 12 times or something similar...

Comment #24

Which producer will want to fund a movie with no baddies and no guns?..

Comment #25


This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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