Archived Domain Information

NOTE: The content provided on this page is archived from 1998.

What is a Domain Name?

In simple terms, a domain name is a human-language equivalent of an address on the Internet. The name actually translates to a number, or more correctly a series of numbers, roughly comparable to a telephone number. Like a telephone number, an Internet address is unique, that is to say, no two are the same. And like a telephone number, it serves to connect “callers” to one specific place on the Net.

There are advantages to using names instead of just the numbers alone. The most obvious is that people can more easily recognize and remember a meaningful word than a long string of numerals.

Another, major advantage is that a domain can be moved to a new machine, where it will have a new number, but the name will remain the same. The DNS (Domain Name System) records are simply altered to reflect the change, and access to the domain continues unchanged.

An Internet domain may be the “home” for any number of things: web sites, mailboxes, files for downloading, even entire computer networks. You see domain names as part of practically every Internet address. In the e-mail address (a mailbox), the domain name is In the Web address (a web page), the domain name

Occasionally, you will see the numeric address instead of the domain name. is a perfectly serviceable address for this web page you’re reading.

That number is called an IP Address, meaningInternet Protocol address. Internet Protocol is a standard for network communications, which is used throughout Net.

It is sometimes useful to match up a domain name with its IP Address, or vice-versa. This is commonly done with a utility called “nslookup”. There are many nslookup “gateways” scattered around the Web. The list below points to some of them.

Now we’ll examine the name itself. Domain names have at least two parts, separated by a dot or period.

The part after the dot is called the Top Level Domain (TLD). The Top Level Domain serves to broadly categorize the name as to its type or purpose. Common TLDs include .com (commercial), .org (organization), .edu(educational institutions), .net (networks), .gov (U.S. government)and .mil (U.S. military).

There are also hundreds of country TLDs, such as .us(USA), .fr (France), .de (Germany), etc. These are in more general use outside the US.

Additional “generic” TLDs (gTLDs) have been proposed and will probably come into general use by sometime in 1988. Domain names ending in, and possibly many others will become widespread on the Net.

Addresses ending in .com are by far the most common at present; they’re generally intended to be commercial in nature, although at present the .com TLD actually serves as a catch-all for virtually all domain names that don’t fit the other, more specific TLDs.

The part of the domain name before the dot is the Second Level Domain (SLD). If you’re registering a name, you have considerable freedom of choice in what this will be. So long as the name you choose does not already exist under the same TLD, and is not obviously a famous trademark owned by someone else, its registration is generally allowed. An SLD can contain up to 24 characters: letters, numbers and dashes are allowed.

Databases of domain records are maintained by InterNIC, the primary name registry on the Internet in the US, and by a variety of similar agencies throughout the world. Accessed through a utility program called WHOIS, these databases are easily accessed from throughout the Net. There’s a list below of sites that provide a WHOIS “gateway” for queries of domain name databases from your Web browser.

(Incidentally, you may do well to remember that your own domain registration will become a publicly-available WHOIS record. For instance, perhaps you have a phone number or e-mail address you’d rather not share with literally the entire world…)

WHOIS Gateways

The following gateways vary, but generally, simply entering a domain name on the query form will yield a record for that name. Entering company names, individual names, e-mail addresses and other queries may also yield information. WHOIS provides a good way to investigate prospective names to determine which are already registered, and to find what companies or persons are associated with a domain name.

Web-based WHOIS Gateways

Various gateways at North American commercial and academic sites:

  • InterNIC Web Interface to Whois:
  • Sparknet:
  • Martinet Development Corp.:
  • Sentex:
  • Heller Information Services:
  • Internet Images Worldwide:
  • Internet Texoma:
  • UnaBEST’s Gateway – Combined WHOIS, nslookup, finger and traceroute:
  • College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University:
  • University of Michigan:
  • Indiana University:
  • US Air Force Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas:
  • CAIS (multi-purpose gateway):
  • Hiway Technologies (check for name availability only):

European and other international WHOIS gateways

  • EUnet GB (CO.UK domains):
  • University of Regensburg, Germany:
  • Darmstadt Technical School, Germany:
  • Sven’s W3 WHOIS Gateway (German)
  • Academic and Research Network of Slovenia:
  • SWITCH – Swiss Academic and Research Network:
  • RESTENA (RESTENA manages the top-level domain .lu for Luxembourg):
  • National Computerization Agency, Korea:
  • KRNIC (Korean Network Information Center):

WHOIS via Telnet

  • WHOIS Gateway via (Switzerland):
  • WHOIS Gateway via (also Gopher, WAIS, WWW)
  • WHOIS Gateway via Internic

More Info

WHOIS servers list:

Nslookup Gateway

Just a few of many…

North America

  • Hood College, Maryland:
  • Eastern New Mexico University:
  • UCLA:
  • Sparknet:
  • KCOnline, Kosciusko County, Indiana:
  • Sittcom:
  • Troubador Systems:
  • UnaBEST’s Gateway – Combined WHOIS, nslookup, finger and traceroute:
  • Multiple gateways, courtesy Patrick McConnell:
  • On the personal page of

Europe, etc.

  • Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands):
  • University of Antwerp:
  • Electromagnetic Wave Laboratory, Nagasaki University, Japan:
  • Vit Internet Service, Japan: