When SSL was introduced in ~1996, there was only a few CAs issuing certificates for that specific use and a few sites which actually used SSL.

Which Certification Authority issued the first SSL certificate and whom was it issued to?

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    $\begingroup$ I think you need to more clearly specify what SSL certificates you would consider answering the question; i.e., what organisation would qualify as a certificate authority? The ones that are accepted in the first Netscape releases? $\endgroup$ – Ruben De Smet Aug 10 '17 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. The oldest CA in the old IE versions seems to be RSA Security, with their certificate issued in 1994. But which site got the first SSL certificate signed by them? $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 10 '17 at 9:26

Spelunking through https://crt.sh, one finds a CA certificate for RSA Data Security, Inc., from 1994, but the oldest certificate it has issued has a validity period starting only on 1998-02-13. That doesn't mean that that CA didn't issue certificates before—maybe the records in crt.sh are incomplete. Indeed, pursuing the PostgresQL interface doesn't reveal any non-CA certificates until 1997, for www2.superb.net, which strongly suggests the records are simply incomplete.

To do further research, with a bit more effort, you might query the EFF's SSL Observatory database. Netcraft also alleges to have data about historical certificate trends, in exchange for money, but it's not clear that they have the actual certificates or just some summarized properties like what serial number and what type of key.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer. Although I think the SSL Observatory wasn't there at the beginning of certificates and only started in 2010. $\endgroup$ – StackzOfZtuff Aug 13 '17 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, the SSL Observatory probably wouldn't have the first certificate, but it might have more data about historical certificates that are still lingering around than the certificate transparency logs which serve mainly to audit newly issued certificates. $\endgroup$ – Squeamish Ossifrage Aug 13 '17 at 14:50

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