The Domain Name System Explained

Domain Name System

DNS Explained – A brief history

Computers that are attached to the internet are each identified by unique IP addresses in order that messages can be routed correctly between them.

IP addresses are numeric in nature (e.g., and are rather like telephone numbers insofar that they are not particularly easy to remember, and certainly don’t say very much about the computer they represent. Each networked computer has a hosts file, and in a small network of computers a hosts file might look like this:

This file is a like a simple address book. So, instead of entering to connect to the web server, users could just type in http://webserver and connect to the same server. Inevitably, networks grew and grew, and before long it became impractical to manage hosts file on each computer.

In 1983 the first naming system was designed whereby instead of keeping a local address list as above, computers could query central name servers. It was structured like a tree where each branch could become a administrative domain of authority – thus the term Domain Name System.

Continue to page 2 to read about how the domain name system is structured…


One Response to The Domain Name System Explained

  1. Katie Keith November 20, 2014 at 20:03 #

    Thanks for the article, it’s nice to see such a complex system described in an accessible way that you can understand.

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