30 years of .com

By Michael Pearson, CNN

Updated 12:19 PM ET, Fri March 13, 2015
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The first .com domain was registered March 15, 1985, to computer manufacturer Symbolics Inc. The site is now run by an investment group in Dallas to offer "unique and interesting facts pertaining to business and Internet history." This image shows ports on the back of a Symbolics 3600. Shieldforyoureyes Dave Fischer/CREATIVE COMMONS
In 1993, eight years after Symbolics registered its .com domain, Microsoft got into the act. This 1994 "Star Map" home page was one of its first to display images instead of just text, according to the company. From debuted in 1995 and helped turn the Internet into the commercial powerhouse that it is, paving the way for a bevy of services promising easy ordering, quick delivery and cheap prices. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is pictured in 2005 with a copy of "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies" by Douglas Hofstadter, the first book sold online by Amazon. Ted S. Warren/AP
For millions of people, America Online was their first experience with the Internet. Although the company began offering online services as early as 1985, it wasn't until 1995 that debuted. The company flooded mailboxes with countless CDs in an effort to get users to install the service on their computers. Julie Thurston Photography/Getty Images
Google appeared on the scene in 1997 and would transform how people access information on the Web. Now, Google's own data show that instead of going directly to a website, many people just type where they want to go into Google's search box. Top "searches" at Google include Facebook and YouTube. Here is how appeared on November 11, 1998. was a darling of the late 1990s dot-com bubble, with its sock puppet mascot appearing in the 1999 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and in a Super Bowl commercial in 2000. But, like many Internet startups of its era, the company didn't have a solid business model and burned through its cash too quickly. It was defunct by the end of the year. Now, the sock puppet has become a symbol of the dot-com bust. Scott Gries/ImageDirect/Getty
Google went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange on August 19, 2004, with stocks debuting at $85 a share. The dot-com bust was still fresh in the minds of many at the time, and the IPO met with mixed reviews. "I'm not buying," Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told the New York Times at the time, predicting little chance the stock would go up. Google shares were trading at about $555 on Friday, March 13. NASDAQ/Getty Images
One of the most influential startups of the post-bust era, Facebook launched in 2004 as, founded by Harvard University students Mark Zuckerberg, right, and Dustin Moscovitz. As of December, 890 million people a day were using it, according to the company. Justine Hunt/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
The company went public in May 2012 but faced a rocky initial public offering as its stock price rose and then fell below the initial offering price before eventually rebounding. It makes much of its money selling advertising, and many have raised questions about the privacy implications of sharing so much information with online companies. Zef Nikolla/Nasdaq/Facebook/AP appeared in 2005 as a video-sharing service, the brainchild of Chad Hurley, left, and Steven Chen. Google bought the site a year later for $1.65 billion. Now, Google says, users watch "hundreds of millions of hours" of video on YouYube every day, with 300 hours of video uploaded every minute. Tony Avelar/AP
It's not just U.S. companies that have taken advantage of the the .com domain, which can be registered worldwide. China-based is one of the world's largest online retailers, with net revenues in 2014 of $8.6 billion. Alibaba founder Jack Ma gives a thumbs-up after speaking at a 2013 event to mark the company's 10th anniversary. Peter Parks/AFP/Getty/File
German-born Web entrepreneur, hacker and accused Web pirate Kim Dotcom legally changed his name to mirror that of the domain and the tech sector that had made him rich, one of numerous ways in which this otherwise arcane bit of Internet architecture has become part of our daily conversation. MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images