A Brief History of domain name collision issue (Part1, 1980s)

Domain name collisions occur when a domain name used in a private network unintentionally overlaps with a domain name in the public Domain Name System (DNS). This can lead to unexpected redirections or disruptions in network services.

The domain name collision issue was a significant factor in the development of the DNS protocol.

1980s: The Era When Pioneers Invented the DNS

Domain Name System (DNS) traces its roots back to RFC 805, titled “Computer Mail Meeting Notes,” published in February 1982. This document, authored by Jon Postel, outlined the need for a hierarchical naming system to manage the growing complexity of the ARPANET, the precursor to the modern internet.

in the middle of the note says:

Name Domains

One of the interesting ideas that emerged from this discussion was that the “user@host” model of a mailbox identifier should, in principle, be replaced by a “unique-id@location-id” model, where the unique-id would be a globally unique id for this mailbox (independent of location) and the location-id would be advice about where to find the mailbox. However, it was recognized that the “user@host” model was well established and that so many different elaborations of the “user” field were already in use that there was no point in persuing this “unique-id” idea at this time.

RFC 805, Network Working Group, J. Postel, 8 February 1982

It is interesting that nearly half century ago, the pioneers concerned about the duplicated ‘unique-id(identifier)’ concept, and now, we are still concerning about the duplicated unique identifier of modern Internet architecture – domain name.

Then in this RFC 805 proposed extending the existing “user@host” mailbox identifier to “user@host.domain,” where “domain” could represent a hierarchy of domains. This concept laid the foundation for the domain name system, which would allow for more organized and scalable addressing of computers and resources on the expanding network.

Within a few months, the first concepts and specifications for Domain Names emerged with RFC882 and RFC883.

RFC 883, Network Working Group, P. Mockapetris, November 1983

The documents also highlighted several key principles that would shape the development of DNS, including:

  1. Top-level domains (TLDs): The need for TLDs to provide a starting point for delegation of queries, ensuring efficient routing of requests.
  2. Unique second-level domains: The requirement for second-level domains to be unique, necessitating a registrar-type administration to prevent conflicts.
  3. Distributed name servers: The recognition that distributing individual name servers responsible for each domain would provide better administration and maintenance.

Then after a year, in 1984, RFC 920 defined initial set of TLDs:

RFC 920, Network Working Group, J. Postel & J. Reynolds, October 1984

Finally, November 1987, by Network Working Group P. Mockapetris, RFC 1034 and RFC 1035 two fundamental documents that define the Domain Name System is published:

RFC 1034, titled “Domain Names – Concepts and Facilities,” provides a comprehensive overview of the DNS architecture, outlining its purpose, structure, and operational principles.

RFC 1035, titled “Domain Names – Implementation and Specification,” delves into the technical details of DNS implementation. It defines the message formats, resource record types, and communication protocols used by DNS servers to exchange information and resolve domain names.

This concludes the brief history of how the domain name collision issue led to the invention of DNS, a critical component of the internet infrastructure.

The 1980s initial DNS architecture worked well until the 2010s when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began introducing new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).