Twenty-five years ago on January 12, 1988, the University of Prince Edward Island registered its website through the .CA registry. University officials at the time knew they were among the first few to apply, but had no idea they registered the first-ever .CA domain name.
The director of UPEI’s first computer centre (later known as the computer services department), Jim Hancock, was listed as the university’s administrative contact on the original application.
“It’s hard for young people today to imagine a time without the Internet,” says Hancock. “UPEI was one of 10 Canadian universities that brought the Internet to Canada.” He remembers representing UPEI at a meeting in Victoria, BC and one of the other university delegates saying that it was like building the first railroad across Canada—this time an electronic railroad which would link our country in a way never imagined.
“We had no idea where this Internet “thing” would lead, but it has changed our world profoundly. In being the first .CA domain, it clearly shows that our University has had, and will continue to have, a very important role to play not only in PEI, but in Canada,” adds Hancock.
David Cairns, retired senior technology advisor at UPEI was the technology contact on the .CA domain application and recalls the outstanding cooperation between the original institutions registered and the people “behind the dream.”
“It allowed UPEI and the Island to access a bigger world beyond our own; we were able to communicate with peers from across the globe,” says Cairns. “It was a time of network expansion on-campus as well. In 1990, we installed one of the first fibre-optic computer networks in Canada and we’ve been updating and improving our internal and external networks ever since.”
A celebration on May 14, 2012 marked the official delegation of the .CA domain by Jon Postel, operator of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to John Demco from the University of British Columbia. Demco and a group of volunteers ran the registry until 2000 when the newly incorporated Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) took over the responsibility.
“Having a .CA is like having a Canadian flag on your digital backpack,” says Byron Holland, president and CEO of CIRA. “As the first to register a .CA, UPEI holds a unique role in the development of .CA. It is online pioneers like UPEI that helped shape the Canadian Internet landscape through .CA, and we would like to congratulate them on reaching the 25-year milestone.”