Scott McKay uses the Internet all the time. Big deal, right? So do about 3 billion other people. What puts him in rarefied territory is that he’s been using the Internet since the late 1970s, when it was called the ARPANET.

"At that point you could actually draw a graph of the internet with a piece of paper and a pencil," he said. "You could almost name every person using the Internet by name."

A healthy chunk of the people connected to the nascent Internet in the early 1980s worked, like McKay did, at Symbolics—a Cambridge-based company computer company that had spun out of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab.

"Symbolics had more brilliant people in one small company than anybody I’ve ever worked for since—and one of the companies I worked for is Google, which has no shortage of brilliant people," McKay said.

At Symbolics, they designed, built and manufactured "lisp machines," some of the earliest "workstations"—precursors of sorts to the personal computer. Among their customers were energy companies, government agencies and universities.

"This was at at time when everybody was using these big time sharing mainframes so the idea of one person for one computer was pretty revolutionary," McKay said.

Despite the fact that the folks at Symbolics invented—or helped invent—almost everything that make the modern Internet what it is, from chat functionality to graphics interfaces to web browsing, the company soon found itself falling behind as the digital revolution took hold at furious speed.  

"If you’re surfing and there’s a huge wave behind you and you get on a surfboard too early, all that happens is the wave goes under your feet," McKay said. "We were too early. [It was] sort of like inventing a car but forgetting to invent roads."

Along the way, they quietly made a curious bit of history. On March 15, 1985, they registered their official Internet domain name: It was the Internet’s first dot-com address. McKnight says nobody thought anything of it at the time save one man: MIT computer scientist Tom Knight.

"He said, 'Wow, the Internet addresses we’re picking, there aren’t gonna be enough of them because the Internet is going to be so big, we’re going to run out of Internet addresses," McKay said. "And everybody said, 'Oh Tom, that’s ridiculous.'"

Knight was, of course, right. By the time Symbolics folded in the early 1990s, an entire generation of dot-com entrepreneurs were on the rise—people like Aron Meystedt, the current owner of the Internet’s first dot-com address.

"It’s kind of like owning the first Model T to ever roll off the assembly line," Meystedt said. "I had always known that it was the first name ever registered. And kind of being in the dot-com space I wanted it, just to own, just as a nice collectible piece."

Collecting domain names isn’t just a hobby for Meystedt, it’s his business. He buys and sells in the domain aftermarket both as an independent businessman and for Heritage Auction house in Dallas, TX.

"Investors are buying them as alternate investments just as a place to store their money with little portability and global demand so it’s an interesting asset class to invest in," Meystedt said. 

Despite the fact that there are now hundreds of extensions on the Internet—everything from dot-net to dot-beer, dot-shoes to dot-news—Meystedt says that a dot-com address is still the undisputed king. A catchy one-word domain like or a two letter combo like can go for well over $1 million. And Meystedt only sees their value rising, at least for the near future. 

"All these new extensions have come out and haven’t made a dent in aftermarket values of dot-coms or the demand," Meystedt said. "So if that didn’t do it and apps didn’t do it, it would be hard to foresee what could come out that would change that."

Meystedt said all of his domain names are available at the right time, for the right price, except for one. He’ll never sell, which today just forwards to his personal business website. But he plans to soon turn it into a resource page for digital entrepreneurs, with a robust section on Internet history. Sure to be prominent on that page is the role that Scott McKay and the gang at Symbolics played in making it all possible.

"We had a group of brilliant people who invented all of the tools and technologies of the modern Internet without knowing it, without knowing what we had." McKay said. "We were brilliant, and we had no idea."