The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the organization that manages the .CA Internet domain, is celebrating .CA’s pivotal role in bringing Canadians together online and building Canada’s digital brand abroad. In 1987, responsibility for the .CA domain was assigned to John Demco at the University of British Columbia by Jon Postel, operator of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The first eight .CA domain names were registered on January 12, 1988, with the very first one claimed by the University of Prince Edward Island.
Twenty-five years later, there are nearly two million .CA domain names. .CA is now the world’s 14th-largest country code domain registry, with the fourth-highest growth rate among all domain registries over the past five years. .CA has become a trusted, secure and reliable domain that is recognized worldwide as part of the Canadian brand. According to a survey carried out for CIRA by The Strategic Counsel, over 80 per cent of Canadians prefer the .CA domain over .COM for online banking, shopping and to stay up to date on current events.
“.CA has become an integral part of the Canadian economic and social landscape,” said Byron Holland, President and CEO of CIRA. “Milestone anniversaries like this are times to reflect on the accomplishments of .CA, and of those key visionaries, like John Demco, who saw the Internet’s potential.”
How it began
In 1987, the Internet consisted of only a few thousand networked machines at universities and government agencies around the world. Email communication between computers on different networks was often hindered by the use of different standards that were incompatible. By this time, the two main categories of top-level domain names, or TLDs, had been created. The first is generic TLDs, which includes .COM and .NET. The second is country-code TLDs (ccTLDs).
For its first 13 years, .CA was managed by Demco and a roster of more than 100 volunteers at UBC and at organizations across the country. During this time, the number of registrations grew from those first eight to 100,000.
.CA has continued to grow exponentially since CIRA assumed stewardship in December 2000. Demco, who today is considered the godfather of the .CA domain space, was named an ex-officio member of CIRA’s board of directors in 2007.
“People strongly identify with national domain names,” Demco said. “It’s been one of the great strengths of .CA from the very beginning – it’s like having the Maple Leaf sewn onto your backpack in the digital world.”
Today, CIRA continues to manage Canada’s .CA domain name registry, develop and implement policies that support Canada’s Internet community, and represent the .CA registry internationally. In 2010, CIRA launched the .CA Impact Awards, designed to recognize .CA websites that make a positive difference in the lives of their users and their communities. CIRA has also launched The Canadian Internet Forum (CIF), a neutral environment for stakeholders from across Canada to discuss and debate the state and future of Internet policy and governance in Canada.