Only five other companies registered a domain name in 1985: bbn.com, think.com, mcc.com, dec.com, and northrop.com.
BBN.com (BBN Technologies)
In December 2014, the domain name bbn.com, the second oldest currently registered domain name on the Internet.
Think.com (Thinking Machines Corporation)
In May 1985, Thinking Machines became the third company to register a .com domain name (think.com). It became profitable in 1989, thanks to its DARPA contracts. The following year, it booked $65 million (USD) in revenue, making it the market leader in parallel supercomputers. In 1991, DARPA reduced its purchases amid criticism it was unfairly subsidizing Thinking Machines at the expense of Cray, IBM, and in particular, NCUBE and MasPar. In 1990, seven years after its founding, Thinking Machines was the market leader in parallel supercomputers, with sales of about $65 million. Not only was the company profitable; it also, in the words of one IBM computer scientist, had cornered the market “on sex appeal in high-performance computing.” Several giants in the computer industry were seeking a merger or a partnership with the company. Wall Street was sniffing around for an initial public offering. Even Hollywood was interested. Steven Spielberg was so taken with Thinking Machines and its technology that he would soon cast the company’s gleaming black Connection Machine in the role of the supercomputer in the film Jurassic Park, even though the Michael Crichton novel to which the movie was otherwise faithful specified a Cray.
Mcc.com (Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation)
July 11, 1985
MCC was one of the first companies to register a .com domain. Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (Microelectronics and Computer Consortium – MCC) was the first, and – at one time – one of the largest, computer industry research and development consortia in the United States. In late 1982, several major computer and semiconductor manufacturers in the United States banded together and founded MCC under the leadership of Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, whose previous positions had been Director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency as an American answer to Japan’s Fifth Generation Project, a large Japanese research project aimed at producing a new kind of computer by 1991. The Japanese had formed consortia as early as 1956. Such formations were illegal in the United States until the 1984 Congressional passage of the “National Cooperative Research Act” Many European and American computer companies saw this new Japanese initiative as an attempt to take full control of the world’s high-end computer market, and MCC was created, in part, as a defensive move against that threat. Several sites with relevant universities were considered including Atlanta, Georgia (Georgia Tech), the Research Triangle, N.C. (UNC), the Washington, D.C. area (George Mason), Stanford University and Austin, Texas (UT) which was the final selection.
DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation)
DEC was one of the first businesses connected to the Internet, with dec.com, registered in 1985, being one of the first of the now ubiquitous .com domains. Digital Equipment Corporation, also known as DEC and using the trademark Digital, was a major American company in the computer industry from the 1950s to the 1990s. DEC was a leading vendor of computer systems, including computers, software, and peripherals. Their PDP and successor VAX products were the most successful of all minicomputers in terms of sales.
Initially focusing on the small end of the computer market allowed DEC to grow without its potential competitors making serious efforts to compete with them. Their PDP series of machines became popular in the 1960s, especially the PDP-8, widely considered to be the first successful minicomputer. Looking to simplify and update their line, DEC replaced most of their smaller machines with the PDP-11 in 1970, eventually selling over 600,000 units and cementing DEC’s position in the industry. Originally designed as a follow-on to the PDP-11, DEC’s VAX-11 series was the first widely used 32-bit minicomputer, sometimes referred to as “superminis”. These systems were able to compete in many roles with larger mainframe computers, such as the IBM System/370. The VAX was a best-seller, with over 400,000 sold, and its sales through the 1980s propelled the company into the second largest computer company in the industry. At its peak, DEC was the second largest employer in Massachusetts, second only to the Massachusetts State Government. The rapid rise of the business microcomputer in the late 1980s, and especially the introduction of powerful 32-bit systems in the 1990s, quickly eroded the value of DEC’s systems. DEC’s last major attempt to find a space in the rapidly changing market was the DEC Alpha 64-bit RISC processor architecture. DEC initially started work on Alpha as a way to re-implement their VAX series, but also employed it in a range of high-performance workstations. Although the Alpha processor family met both of these goals, and, for most of its lifetime, was the fastest processor family on the market, extremely high asking prices were outsold by lower priced x86 chips from Intel and clones such as AMD.
DEC was acquired in June 1998 by Compaq, in what was at that time the largest merger in the history of the computer industry. At the time, Compaq was focused on the enterprise market and had recently purchased several other large vendors. DEC was a major player overseas where Compaq had less presence. However, Compaq had little idea what to do with its acquisitions, and soon found itself in financial difficulty of its own. The company subsequently merged with Hewlett-Packard (HP) in May 2002. As of 2007 some of DEC’s product lines were still produced under the HP name.
Northrop.com ( Northrop Corporation)
In 1985, Northrop bought northrop.com, the sixth .com domain created. Northrop Corporation was a leading United States aircraft manufacturer from its formation in 1939 until its merger with Grumman to form Northrop Grumman in 1994. The company is known for its development of the flying wing design, most successfully the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
Jack Northrop founded three companies using his name. The first was the Avion Corporation in 1927, which was absorbed in 1929 by the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation as a subsidiary named “Northrop Aviation Corporation” (and later acquired by Boeing).