ICANN Overview - http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applica...e/faqs/faqs-en

Applicants in the 2000 Round - http://archive.icann.org/en/tlds/app-index.htm
Applicants in the 2003-2004 Round - http://archive.icann.org/en/tlds/stld-apps-19mar04/

gTLD History & Policy Development

7.1 How are new gTLDs created?

The decision to establish the New gTLD Program followed a detailed and lengthy consultation process with all constituencies of the global Internet community. Representatives from a wide variety of stakeholders—governments, individuals, civil society, business and intellectual property constituencies, and the technology community—were engaged in discussions for more than 18 months. In October 2007, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)—one of the groups that coordinates global Internet policy at ICANN—completed its policy development work on new gTLDs and approved a set of recommendations. Contributing to this policy work were ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) and Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC). The ICANN Board of Directors adopted the policy in June 2008. A thorough brief to the policy process can be found athttp://gnso.icann.org/issues/new-gtlds/.
There are eight gTLDs that predate the formal establishment of ICANN as an organization. These are: .com .edu .gov .int .mil .net .org .arpa. ICANN held two previous application rounds, one in 2000 and another in 2003-4, where several proposals were submitted and evaluated. The gTLDs approved during the 2000 round are: .aero .biz .coop .info .museum .name .pro. The gTLDs approved during the 2004 round are .asia .cat .jobs .mobi .tel .travel You can find additional information about these previous application rounds at http://www.icann.org/tlds/app-index.htm (2000) and http://www.icann.org/tlds/stld-apps-19mar04/(2003-4). Applications received during these rounds were evaluated against previously-published criteria, and those applicants who were successful went on to sign TLD Registry Agreements with ICANN.
7.2 How did the new gTLD policy development process work?

The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) is responsible for creating policy applicable to gTLDs. The GNSO policy development process on new gTLDs was aimed at creating a standing policy to guide the ongoing introduction of new gTLDs. The GNSO Policy Development Process (PDP) is formally defined in the ICANN Bylaws (seehttp://www.icann.org/general/bylaws.htm#AnnexA). The GNSO's final report on the introduction of New gTLDs can be found here (Part A, Part B).
7.3 How are the GNSO's policy recommendations being implemented?

ICANN staff reviewed the 19 GNSO recommendations for the introduction of new gTLDs and developed a set of steps to put each of them into practice, while also being cognizant of the guiding principles and implementation guidelines. One of the main outputs of this implementation work is the Applicant Guidebook [PDF, 3.1 MB], which can be thought of as a roadmap for potential gTLD applicants.