Yohan Cayden

March 03, 2023

The History of Whois: From the ARPANET to Today's Internet

Whois is an essential tool for anyone who registers a domain name. This publicly accessible database contains information about domain names and their owners. But where did Whois come from, and how has it evolved over time? In this article, we'll explore the history of Whois from its origins on the ARPANET to its current form on today's internet.

Origins on the ARPANET

The history of Whois dates back to the early days of the internet, specifically the ARPANET. The ARPANET was the precursor to the modern internet, developed by the US Department of Defense in the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, the ARPANET began using domain names to identify network hosts. The first domain name was symbolics.com, registered on March 15, 1985.

Early Whois implementations

As domain names became more prevalent, there was a need for a centralized database to store information about them. In 1982, the Domain Name System (DNS) was developed, which provided a hierarchical naming system for computers, services, and resources connected to the internet.

Shortly after the development of the DNS, the first Whois implementation was created. This early version of Whois allowed users to query the domain name system for information about a particular domain name. However, it was not until the early 1990s that Whois became widely adopted.

Expansion of Whois

As the internet grew in popularity in the 1990s, so did the need for Whois. The first standardized Whois protocol was developed in 1993 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). This protocol standardized the way that Whois servers communicated with each other, making it easier for users to query Whois databases across the internet.

In the late 1990s, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was formed to oversee the domain name system. ICANN created guidelines for the operation of Whois databases, including requirements for the collection of contact information for domain owners.

Modern Whois

Today, Whois is a critical tool for anyone who registers a domain name. While there have been changes to the way Whois operates, including the implementation of privacy regulations such as the GDPR, it remains an essential part of the internet infrastructure.


The history of Whois is closely tied to the development of the internet itself. From its origins on the ARPANET to its current form on today's internet, Whois has played a crucial role in the way we identify and manage domain names. As the internet continues to evolve, it is likely that Whois will continue to play an essential role in the infrastructure of the web.

TAGS: General

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