Colin Jackson – Independent Technology Consultant, IT.GEN.NZ

“The first thing that happened from my perspective was a phone call from Frank March, who is currently the President. He was at the University at the time talking to his boss. He was in charge of their IT department. He, like myself and others had realised that there was this domain name system out there and it wasn’t really being run properly at the time. John Pastel (0:26) was still alive running a lot of that from the States. Victoria and Waikato University, mostly Waikato, were the ones who were actually running the .nz domain name system. It was definitely not core business for University. And, of course, Frank realised that at some point the University accountants were going to notice this and say ‘excuse me?’. So he and several of us became really quite concerned to actually build something that would take control of this because we thought that if we didn’t do that, a large company would probably stick its hand up because government wasn’t going to be very interested, certainly not the government of the mid-‘90s. So we were concerned that a large company, probably Telecom, would stand up and say, “That’s all part of the telephone system” and of course, Telecom, at the time, was asserting that it owned the New Zealand numbering plan because it had just been sold off. And, in fact, it only dropped that assertion in the last 12 months – that it owned all the phone numbers in New Zealand. So we were really concerned that if they got control of the domain name system, that would actually hamper the growth of the Internet in New Zealand. So the real purpose of the Society initially, was to try and build something that was credible enough and had the base to actually take over control of the domain name system, but to run it in a publicly accountable way. That was quite hard for the first couple of years. We had maybe a year or so of forming the Society and getting accounts up and running. And then John Houlker, who was one of the original Internet pioneers, he said that the time had come and we all agreed. So John wrote to John Pastel (2:09) in the States saying that we would take it over. But we still kept it at Waikato initially – we had an administrative body in place – but we were all volunteers and we had no money. We had a few lots of 50 bucks that we were charging people for membership but there really wasn’t anything there. We couldn’t even afford to fly and meet altogether. There came the point that we realised that we’d have to charge for domain names to make an infrastructure that worked. That caused all kinds of problems. A lot of people were used to getting domain names for nothing and they were really grumpy that they had to pay for it. There was a hostile editorial in the National Business Review, I recall at one stage, accusing us of abusing the Internet. Certainly the first structure we made didn’t prove to be ideal. We built a company called ‘Domainz’ that was eventually sold off which and is now just another domain name registrar. In those days I don’t think anybody really realised the distinction between ‘registree’ and ‘registrar’ as there now is. So for a while we were running with the company domains doing all the work and then the volunteers in the Internet NZ structure – or Internet NZ as it became known – as the Internet Society of New Zealand.”


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