On February 15, 1985, .us was created as the Internet’s first ccTLD. Its original administrator was Jon Postel of the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) at the University of Southern California (USC). He administered .us under a subcontract that the ISI and USC had from SRI International (which held the .us and the gTLD contract with the United States Department of Defense) and later Network Solutions (which held the .us and the gTLD contract with the National Science Foundation).
Postel and his colleague Ann Cooper codified the .us ccTLD’s policies in December 1992 as RFC 1386 and revised them the following June in RFC 1480. Registrants could only register third-level domains or higher in a geographic and organizational hierarchy. From June 1993 to June 1997, Postel delegated the vast majority of the geographic subdomains under .us to various public and private entities. .us registrants could register with the delegated manager for the specific zone they wished to register in, but not directly with the .us administrator. In July 1997, Postel instituted a “50/500 rule” that limited each delegated manager to 500 localities maximum, 50 in a given state.
The .us ccTLD is historically organized under a complex locality namespace hierarchy. Until second-level registrations were introduced in 2002, .us permitted only fourth-level domain registrations of the form “<organization-name>.<locality>.<state>.us”, with some exceptions for government entities. Registrants of locality-based domains must meet the same criteria as in the rest of the .us ccTLD. Though the locality namespace is most commonly used for government entities, it is also open to registrations by private businesses and individuals. Since 2002, second-level domain registrations have eclipsed those in the locality namespace, and many local governments have transitioned to .org and other TLDs.