How much did domains cost in 1996?
December 5, 2014 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Specifically, I'm curious about registering and ongoing hosting costs in 1996 for domain names. Were they more expensive? Were they the same price? was it a monthly charge? A yearly charge?
posted by Alex Goldman to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In 1996, domain names were $100 for a 2-year registration through Network Solutions. In 1995 and before that, they were free.
posted by Jairus at 8:39 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Which domains? dot com?
posted by devnull at 9:00 AM on December 5, 2014

Best answer: "The Internet's Gatekeeper May Cash In on Its Role" (New York Times, September 12, 1996), noting the new $100 two-year registration fee, and $50 per year renewal fee.

Less than two years later, "Internet Registrar Reports Record Earnings" (NYT, February 11, 1998).

Here is's 1996 sales form, including prices for services:
   Account Type:
     FTP                                $ 5           $ 4.95
     Basic                              $10           $ 8.95
     Advanced                           $15           $16.95
     Webmaster                          $20           $28.95
     Virtual/Vanity Domain              $25           $ 1.00
     Secure Server                      $40           $30.00
     Disk Space (per Mb)                              $ 0.30
     Bandwidth (per 10Mb/day)                         $ 2.00
It's hard to find a site that is archived back as far as this, but if you search for hosts who have been around since 1996 or earlier, you might get lucky and find another site archived back this far.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:06 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I registered a few .com and .net domains back then, for $50/year, as Jalrus said. I don't remember whether I had to pay 2 years up front - I probably did; renewal costs remained $50/year for a while.

As an aside - at the time, you could register a domain for free, and it would expire after a few weeks if you didn't arrange payment. I used that once or twice for joke domains.
posted by moonmilk at 9:16 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

A few added details:

I am pretty sure that network solutions only offered Domain nam registration back then. You had to make separate arrangements for actual DNS hosting.

That Pair price sheet didn't cover Domain registration or DNS hosting. The charge for a vanity domain was, as I recall, the cost of a unique IP and the webserver config to take advantage of it.

The first two tiers of hosting only accommodated static sites. You needed a higher tier account to host applications, like a forum. I can't remember if it was advanced, or "webmaster."
posted by Good Brain at 10:40 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sorry, I didn't include the column headings for Pair: First column is Setup, second is Monthly charges. From lower down on the sales sheet:
Here is an example of a signup for a Basic Account with Virtual Domain,
from a non-profit organization, prepaid for six months with the (extended)
June prepayment discount:

                                       SETUP         MONTHLY
   Account Type:
     Basic                              $10           $ 8.95
     Virtual/Vanity Domain              $25           $ 1.00

   Months Prepaid                                    ____6___

   SUBTOTAL                           __$35__        _$59.70_

   Setup Discount (if any)            __25%__ (non-profit)

   Monthly Discount (if any)                         ___0%___

   Prepay Discount (if any)                  ___8%___

   TOTALS                             _$23.45        _$54.92_

   GRAND TOTAL                               _$78.37_

Note that $23.45 is $35 less 33%, while $54.92 is $59.70 less 8%.  Round
fractional cents to the nearest cent.
There's some information on virtual/vanity domain setup and hosting. It's amusing that a domain name is considered "vanity" at that time. Now new domain name registrations are thrown into many hosting deals, and there are a ton of joke sites. Then again, domain costs are pennies compared to the mid-1990s.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:56 AM on December 5, 2014

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