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Since the time this tutorial was written (1997), the Internet Root NIC has changed drastically. There has been the rise of the self-ordained Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the overthrow of Network Solutions as the monopolistic controller of all domain names. Where once stood a monolithic monopoly (Network Solutions), there now stands a distributed cooperative of organizations peforming the same task. The root NIC no longer exists per se. While the entity InterNIC still exists, it no longer exists as the sole root resolution system. Technically, it has always been owned by the Department of Commerce though it was once managed by Network Solutions (who in turn is now owned by VeriSign), but the InterNIC is now managed on the behalf of the Department of Commerce by ICANN. The InterNIC site now provides WHOIS lookup services to identify the owner of various domain names are, but InterNIC now mostly points to registrars, not individual domain owners. Worldwide there are a number of groups that provide WHOIS resolution of IP addresses, not just InterNIC.

The remainder of this page remains as historical reference... Keep in mind that all that follows from this point forward in this page is 'history' and no longer entirely accurate where DNS is concerned. --InetD

The DNS root Network Information Center (NIC) is called InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center). InterNIC is the source of the root level DNS information on the Internet. Each domain on the Internet takes care of it's own domain, but must register their domain with InterNIC in order to be able to use DNS to resolve their domain name. (Actually, there are multiple registrars now, with ICANN performing the accreditation of the registrars. --InetD).

InterNIC began as partnership between the United States Government, AT&T, IBM and Network Solutions. AT&T provided the directory services, IBM provided the databases and servers and support personnel, and Network Solutions provided the administrative staffing for the registration process. The United States Government contributed by awarding a 5-year monopoly to Network Solutions as the sole organization with the authority to register domain names for the Internet and World Wide Web.

The InterNIC today is a set of servers located on Network Solution's property in Herndon, Virginia. These servers are Sun servers now owned by the United States Department of Commerce and they provide top-level resolution of domain names and IP addresses. If your local DNS server on your network doesn't know the address for your favorite website, it starts at the InterNIC to find a list of servers that might have the answer.

It is the InterNIC's job to provide a list of DNS servers for which an given domain may be resolved from. These servers are in fact responsible for the following top-level domains within the United States:

  • .com (Business and Corporations)
  • .org (Organizations)
  • .net (Networks)
  • .edu (Educational Facilities)
  • .biz (Businesses)
  • .info (Information sites)
  • .name (vanity domains)
  • a proposal for .pro has been submitted

For a complete list of who can now accept your Domain Name registration, you can go to go to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) website. --InetD


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