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A look back: The ICANN History Project

White interviews thrush 1600x900 18may17 en

Brad White interviews Peter Dengate-Thrush

It was indeed ironic–Ira Magaziner's boss, President Bill Clinton, had just won his 1996 bid for re-election, yet Magaziner was feeling the pain of defeat.

As a Senior Policy Advisor to the President, Magaziner had been heavily involved in Hillary Clinton's failed healthcare initiative and now he too wanted a win.

The Clinton aide's opportunity came when the President asked him to come up with some creative ideas to keep the economy growing. It was at a time when Clinton's entire Cabinet was trying to tell him what he needed to focus most on during his second term. Magaziner recalls that the ideas they were throwing at Clinton were all pretty conventional, but Magaziner had an idea that was anything but.

"I wanted to put a framework in place to let the Internet take off," said the former Presidential aide.

Magaziner said Clinton embraced his idea. But the President's Cabinet? Well - not so much. "They said 'the Internet? What the hell is that?' Then they shrugged their shoulders and said, 'I don't care.'"

If Vint Cerf is considered one of the "fathers of the Internet," then Ira Magaziner could easily be considered "the father of ICANN."

It was Magaziner who spearheaded the formulation of a plan for an international, multistakeholder organization, the likes of which few had ever seen. And it was this organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, that would manage the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS).

Magaziner related his little-known story in a video interview that is part of the new ICANN History Project, which can be found at There, you will find a growing number of video interviews.

In addition to the conversation with Magaziner, we also talked with Vint Cerf, former National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) Chief Larry Strickling and a number of other major players from the organization's past.

But the History Project is much more than just video interviews. You'll find an interactive timeline, historical documents, correspondence, pictures and more. As new materials are collected and posted, the history project will expand and evolve.

The project tells the story of ICANN's past through exploring various tracks, or themes. The first one is the historical relationship between ICANN and the U.S. Government. That relationship recently made news headlines with the successful completion of the IANA Stewardship Transition.

Larry Strickling, the former NTIA chief, told ICANN during a video interview that there was never any doubt in his mind that the transition would be successful. But Internet pioneer Vint Cerf disagreed, saying he thought the transition was in jeopardy "every single day," between the time it was announced and when it was completed more than two years later.

That sort of difference of perspective is one of the elements that drives the History Project. It is also one of the reasons that we did not do an overarching narrative or declarative history, like a journalist might. We want you to draw your own conclusions.

It is our sincere hope that the History Project will form a lens through which we can more clearly focus on ICANN's future.


    Walter Boyd  18:49 UTC on 29 May 2017

    Thanks for sharing the information about the ICANN history project. With this project, everyone will have a panoramic view of the company.

    Sadiya Khan  22:19 UTC on 05 June 2017

    Nice to explore such amazing stuff.

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."