When Network Solutions was founded in 1979 it was a technology consulting company with approximately thirty employees and a focus on applications development. In 1992 Network Solutions was the only bidder listed on a grant to develop a domain name registration service for the Internet. In 1993 the National Science Foundation awarded the company the grant. Network Solutions developed the necessary technology and went on to become the first domain name registrar. While the service was initially subsidized by the government, in 1993 the National Science Foundation privatized the name registry and paid Network Solutions to administer the system.
In 1995, the Science Applications International Corporation bought out Network Solutions, but retained the name. Also in 1995 the company instituted the free system, and The National Science Foundation gave Network Solutions the authority to charge consumers for domain name registrations. For $100 dollars, the consumer received a two year registration. All domains were charged the fee and thirty percent for the revenue went to National Science Foundation for the creation of an Internet Intellectual Infrastructure Fund. The company was listed on NASDAQ in 1997. Also in 1997, Network Solutions was hit with a lawsuit charging the company with antitrust violations in regard to the domain names. It was ruled that the thirty percent of the registration fee that was donated to the National Science Foundations was an illegal tax. This ruling led to a reduction in the domain name registration fee. The fee went from $100 dollars to $70 dollars.
Network Solutions implemented a policy concerning the censoring of domain names. A consumer was unable to register the domain name shitakemushrooms.com and investigation into the matter set off a major controversy. It was further aggravated when it was found that the automated screens blocked the original registration but allowed another, more offensive domain name to be registered. Network Solutions argued that the First Amendment gave the company the right to block words it found offensive even though it was operating under a contract with a federal agency. More controversy ensued over the $100 dollar registration fee and by the end of 1999; the registration fee had been reduced to a mere $6 dollars a year.
Network Solutions maintained their status as the only domain name registrar until 1999 when the industry was opened to competition. In 2000 Network Solutions was purchased by VeriSign for $21 billion dollars, becoming the largest internet purchase in history. In 2003 Network Solutions was acquired by Pivotal Equity Group, an investment firm focused on companies in such areas as telecommunications, Internet services, consumer products and manufacturing. Network Solutions was re-launched and focus was placed on developing a suite of web related services designed to help customers establish and grow their online businesses. In 2007, Network Solutions was again sold. The terms of the sale were not released but Wall Street Journal reported that the sale price was around $800 million dollars. Now acquired by General Atlantic the focus turned to company growth as a provider of marketing services for small and medium online businesses.
As of 2009, Network Solutions hosts and manages more than 6.6 million domain names and hundreds of thousands of web sites and email addresses for customers. The company size, longetivity and founding status have all contributed to making Network Solutions one of the most important corporations affecting domain name policies and pricing.