Please note: English is not my native language, there might be heavy grammatical errors in it.
today I’m going to take you on a fascinating story about a daring adventurer who is searching for a real treasure in the jungle of the World Wide Web - a cyber.tld domain.
Why a cyber.tld, some may ask? Well, cyber radiates a special aura. It is a term that simultaneously points to the future and evokes memories of the beginnings of the digital age. Cyberspace is where our digital journeys originated, and a cyber.tld domain is as precious as an undiscovered gold treasure. Getting hold of it is like an epic adventure, because they are rare, usually astronomically expensive or simply unattainable.
This domain is a sign of prestige, a status symbol for the daring pioneers of the Internet. But for our protagonist, it’s more than that - it’s an unfulfilled dream that he finally wants to fulfill.
In his youth, he repeatedly combed the endless expanses of the Net in search of this lost treasure. But luck always seemed to turn its back on him. Even when he found a free cyber.tld, he lacked the wherewithal to make this digital treasure his own.
But his adventure is far from over. Join him on his journey through the unfathomable depths of cyberspace as he does everything he can to make his dream come true and conquer the ultimate cyber.tld domain. Who knows what obstacles and surprises await him? This story is full of suspense and surprises that will keep you enthralled.
In the wide world of the Internet, I was striving for a very special domain: cyber.to. But as luck would have it, it was always taken, and even if it had been free, it would have cost a fortune. As a teenager, you rarely had the money for such dreams.
Why a .to domain of all things, you might ask? Well, as a Millennial, I started witnessing a wilder era of the Internet (at least from my perspective). There were countless warez sites, and they all bore those cool .to domains. The forums I hung out in? .to domains. The shady warez sites I was active on? .to domains. They were a true throwback to an era when the Internet was still a place of anarchy and disconnectedness.
.to domains symbolized that anarchy.
But the years passed, and my youth gradually faded into a memory. Still, the longing for a unique cyber.tld domain wouldn’t let me go.
A few years ago - it must have been five years already - I stumbled across the domain cyber.to on Namecheap (a domain trader). Its status? “Taken.” I had given up hope and lost track of this domain, even though I wanted it so badly.
Years passed and the year 2023 dawned. Instead of the former solarpunk, cyberpunk now reigned. Earth was dying, an unstoppable decay. And me? I was still sitting in front of my screen.
But one day, completely out of boredom, I decided to simply type in the word “cyber” at INWX, a German domain trader. A spontaneous impulse to see if maybe somewhere on this digital globe a cyber.tld domain was waiting for its redemption.
The default search only spit out the old familiar TLDs like .com, .net, .org and others. Of course, all cyber.tld domains there were long taken or sheer unaffordable. After all, I had no desire to shell out 20,000 euros for a domain.
But then I decided to adjust the search at INWX a bit. I simply overrode the filter and had all TLDs displayed - every available domain that the Internet had to offer. I wanted the magic domain engine to show me what it could do.
Lo and behold, I was presented with a seemingly endless list of free cyber.tld domains. Most of them carried new domain extensions, and most of them were those pesky premium domains - but that is a story for another time. However, among all the premium domains and weird sub-domains, there were actually some free cyber.tld domains that cost less than 100 euros.
Now the game began.
- cyber.cy for Cyprus, an island.
- cyber.ms for Montserrat, an island.
- cyber.to for Tonga, an island.
These free domains jumped out at me and were shown as available. So I slid them into my shopping cart at INWX as fast as my fingers would allow and paid.
Then the endless waiting began…
I had already learned in the past that domains from small island states took their time until the registration was finally completed.
Why this endless waiting? Well, time seems to pass a little differently on these remote islands. Through my good friend, whom we affectionately refer to by his cyber alias “Felsqualle”, I learned that manual work is still sometimes used there when processing domain orders. That could take time. And how it took!
So I shared my discovery with my best friend. We were both excited and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen with the domains.
Hours passed, and with each passing minute, the uncertainty grew. Would I get the domain? A spark of hope glowed inside me, though not very brightly.
But then, finally, an e-mail arrived from INWX. Its subject line: “D
OMAIN cyber.to REG FAILED.” Its contents made my heart grow heavy: “
REGISTRY MESSAGE: > Domain already registered. Probably suspended.”
Damn, I had suspected it. It could have been too good to call this domain my own. Disappointed, I told Felsqualle that it probably wouldn’t work. But my buddy had a valuable hint for me. He had found out that the domain seemed to be free somehow, but not really.
The log of the domain looked like this:
Created on: Thu Oct 12 21:05:38 2000
Last edited on: Tue Nov 12 03:32:05 2002
Expires on: Sat Oct 12 21:05:38 2002
Primary host add: 220.127.116.11
Primary host name: cyber.to
Secondary host add: None
Secondary host name: None
The story took a surprising turn, and I suspected that many more secrets surrounding this mysterious domain would come to light.
Expires on: Sat Oct 12 21:05:38 2002”… I paused. The year was 2023, and 2002 was a lifetime ago - an era of the Internet that had long since passed. Felsqualle urged me to write to Tonic (the domain registrar) directly, and he immediately handed me the email address.
At first I hesitated, because I didn’t really believe that it would be worthwhile to write to this dusty domain. But something in me drove me on. Felsqualle had given so many helpful tips in the past, and he had always hit the mark. So I opened my e-mail program, composed a short message, and cautiously inquired if there might be a chance to acquire the domain, considering that the expiration date had already passed since 2002.
My hopes were low, but I had a spark of faith in Felsqualle’s wisdom, who had pointed me in the right direction so many times before.
No sooner had I sent the email than I received a message from INWX. I had almost forgotten that I had put three domains in the shopping cart before. Despite the setback, there was good news: The domain cyber.ms was now mine. Not as cool as a .to domain, but still an impressive domain. But my joy was limited, because I was still itching to get my hands on the .to domain.
Clock was already showing late in the evening. My employer expected maximum wakefulness and top performance from me in the gray corporate jungle of the next day. Nevertheless, I went to bed with a small spark of hope - expecting to maybe get an answer from Tonic.
Hours passed as I slept deeply. Somewhere on the other side of the world, an email was waiting anxiously for a response. When I awoke, morning was breaking, the sun already shining in full glory, illuminating our earth.
My eyes immediately wandered to my smartphone. A few unread emails flashed on the screen. Spam, irrelevant newsletters and then - a reply from Tonic.
A reply from Tonic? For a moment, my breath stopped. I had never opened an email so quickly in my entire life!
And then I read the delightful message from Tonic:
With reference to your recent enquiry, we are pleased to advise that we have deleted the previous registration of the domain name cyber.to You will be welcome to register this name, at: tonic.to
Thank you for using Tonic!
I could not believe it! The domain had been unlocked - just because I had written to them! Felsqualle had been right!
My coffee, freshly brewed and steaming, hadn’t even seen a sip from me as I booted up my laptop in a flash to save the highly desired domain. However, then came the surprise - at least for someone from Germany: The payment option was limited to credit card. No problem, I thought. I didn’t own a traditional credit card (like almost every German), but I did have a virtual debit credit card through a Neobank. The only problem was that I didn’t use this bank account as my main account, but only for casual online transactions. I always had to top up credit there first.
The next problem loomed. I could only top up the card via my special smartphone, which I had reserved exclusively for banking apps. But this smartphone hadn’t seen electricity in ages and was lying dusty in a forgotten corner of my room. So I plugged it into the charger at lightning speed.
Minutes passed, and the voltage increased. The Apple logo finally lit up on the smartphone’s screen. And then came the big surprise: the time read 7:21 p.m. But it was early in the morning. Damn! I already suspected what had happened…
The smartphone, which had remained in sleep mode for too long, was obviously out of sync. Normally it should only take a few minutes until the correct time was displayed again. But not on this day. Minutes went by and nothing happened.
Still, I risked an attempt to open the banking app. But my account balance didn’t seem to be correct - again, the much-needed sync was missing. And then the unimaginable happened: my smartphone suddenly indicated that I was not on the Wi-Fi network, even though the appropriate icon was displayed in the status bar.
No problem, I thought, I would just disconnect briefly and reconnect. But nothing happened. My smartphone just wouldn’t connect to the Internet. Panic took hold of me. Anyone would now have the opportunity to acquire the domain I so eagerly desired.
Desperately, I tried to share the Internet from my regular smartphone to the special banking smartphone - but that didn’t seem to work either. So I decided to drink my coffee and bury my hopes for the domain for the time being.
What felt like an eternity passed, surely it was at least 15 minutes, when suddenly the smartphone started showing signs of life again. It started doing app updates, and the time finally set itself correctly.
“Okay, folks, here we go!” I thought excitedly. I opened the banking app, and finally the correct account balance was displayed. So I quickly clicked the “Top-Up” button to transfer money from my regular account to the virtual account - it worked without a hitch.
With my notebook in front of me, I opened the Tonic website, entered my information, and hit “submit.” But then came the sobering error message. Damn it! I had accidentally selected MasterCard instead of Visa in the selection option.
So I started all over again. This time everything went smoothly. A few moments later, I received a pleasant message from Tonic - but it also worried me a little. The content was:
This is a message to confirm your recent registration of domain
name “cyber.to” with Tonic, the .TO name registry.
If you paid by credit card, your card will be charged soon, and a
separate receipt (with the card authorization number) will be sent to
this email address. The charge for initial domain name registration
is US$100.00, which will reserve your name for 2 years.
The charge on your credit card will be from Tonic Domains Corp.
For reference, the last four digits of the credit card number we received
Why did this message worry me? I only had a virtual debit credit card - not a real credit card!
Why was this a problem? Well, usually these virtual debit credit cards worked fine on the Internet. But every now and then, you’d come across providers who didn’t like them and required a real credit card instead. And that’s exactly what I didn’t have - and to be honest, I didn’t need one (typical German!).
So I sat there, slightly distraught, staring at the clock. Duty was calling, my shift was starting, and I needed to switch into corpo mode. Luckily, I could work remotely, which made things more bearable!
But thoughts of the domain wouldn’t let me go. In between all the Excel spreadsheets, brief moments kept popping up when I wondered when Tonic would debit the amount, because nothing had happened yet.
Hours of intensive work passed, and I kept glancing at my smartphone, hoping for a debit notification from Tonic. But it remained silent.
In the meantime I remembered that I had reserved three domains at INWX. There was cyber.cy, another cool domain. During a short coffee break, I took the time to check if its status had changed yet. Unfortunately, it was still on “processing”. No answer from the registrar in Cyprus. Well, work was calling again and I had to focus on my tasks again.
My glances at my smartphone became more and more intense, but a withdrawal was still waiting. By now it was already noon, and out of sheer curiosity I looked to see what time it actually was on Tonga. The clock showed night, and it was already Saturday there. Damn, I thought. If they did everything by hand on the island, it could possibly take an eternity before my withdrawal was processed.
So I went looking to see if .to domains were processed directly on Tonga. The good news was that they were not - they were processed from the US. Hope sprouted in me, because the people there were going to wake up soon, or so I hoped.
And so, after my short break, I sat engrossed in my work again, my eyes fixed on my smartphone again and again. But nothing happened.
Then the screen of my smartphone flickered for a moment, and a new e-mail arrived. I already had a clue - the charge had probably failed, since my virtual debit credit card didn’t count as a “real” credit card. Still, I couldn’t contain my curiosity. It was a message from INWX, gosh.
Once again, the mail did not bring good news. The subject was “
DOMAIN cyber.cy REG FAILED” and the content was sobering: “
REGISTRY MESSAGE: > Domain name blocked by registry.” Damn, the domain was lost to me. It seemed you had to live in Cyprus and also have luck on your side to get a .cy domain. Apparently, these domains were not given out lightly to just anyone - not even if you were a resident of Cyprus. Oh well, what the heck, I thought to myself. That’s life. After all, I had already acquired cyber.ms - a little piece of luck!
My eyes once again sank into the depths of the corpo activities. Inside, I had already almost given up hope for the cyber.to domain. Hours passed, and I was just about to get up to make myself a coffee and recharge my batteries for my day-to-day corporate responsibilities.
Then the screen of my smartphone lit up again. A glance at the notifications showed responses to my Fediverse posts, some unanswered chats on Discord, and two notifications from my banking app and my email app. But the banking app caught my special attention.
I unlocked my screen, and there it was - a withdrawal from Tonic! A rush of joy went through me. Immediately, I opened my email app, hoping to find the redeeming message. And there it was at last!
It had happened!
After all these years, the domain was mine.
Tonic sent me a nice message with the subject “Your new .to domain name(s)” and the content:
“Congratulations! You are the nameholder of record at the Tonga Network Information Center (Tonic) for the following domain names: cyber.to.”
I could not believe it.
The damn domain cyber.to was mine now - a domain that had been forgotten for over 20 years and so no one could buy it.
Immediately I wrote to Felsqualle. He had to know about it! We were both filled with a huge enthusiasm, and I was infinitely grateful to him for this valuable tip to simply write to the registrar. All these years, no one had come up with this idea, not even myself. Sometimes you just needed a best friend to give you the right push to do something you just hadn’t think of.
We were both overwhelmed that it had actually worked!
After telling Felsqualle about my success, I couldn’t wait to tell my girlfriend. After all, I had annoyed her quite a bit in the last few hours and the night before. But she took it with humor. “You know, I’m the guy who owns cyber.to,” I said with a cheeky grin. She gave me a playfully disgusted look and walked away - hopefully in jest!
I had achieved my goal. Finally, the cyber.to domain was mine. It was now part of my large domain collection, but this domain was special. It was a relic from another time. It may sound strange to some that someone would be so determined to own a domain, but don’t forget, there are also people who collect stamps.
What I would eventually do with this domain, I honestly didn’t know yet. I felt like it should be something cool. Maybe someday the bright idea would come to me, be it in a year or 20 years. The future of the cyber.to domain was still in the dark, but I was ready to fill it with life.