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ICANN History Project

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The History of ICANN

The history of ICANN traces back to the creation and the evolution of the Internet itself.

In 1969, the first message was sent via the Arpanet, a U.S. Department of Defense network and precursor to the global Internet. Three years later, Jon Postel started to record socket numbers for the Arpanet in his notebook. His registry eventually became the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which manages the coordination of the Domain Name System (DNS).

ICANN was founded in 1998 and grew out of a U.S. Government commitment to transfer the policy and technical management of the DNS to a non-profit corporation based in the U.S. with global participation. The IANA Stewardship Transition was completed in October 2016 thanks to the work and dedication of the Internet community worldwide.

To learn more about ICANN’s history, check out the interviews, interactive timelines, and other resources under the thematic tracks below.

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — ????? — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."
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