Not much is known about the servers origins before it went public. As far as MC servers go, it has had a long history and is currently over a year old with almost continuous use (95%+ uptime) since it went public.
Delniqi comes from the first few letters of each admin's real first name.
The Beginnings: Before the Server Went Public
Before the server went public it was owned by Nireon and hosted as a private server at Princeton University for use by Nireon and his roommate Kungming2. At some point kungming2 offhandedly mentioned it to dcdcnews, and he joined and promptly started building crazy things like Casa del Mar, now known as the Patchwork Fortress.
At around the same time JTPROG discovered and began playing minecraft (he originally thought it was a custom map for Starcraft 2, don't ask how) in SSP, surprised at how robust it was for a seemingly simple game. At this time JT created a test server for him and his brother Xtionx to play on, but it wasn't until logging on to League of Legends (LoL) one day that the future of Delniqi would begin.
While in a lobby about to start a game in LoL JT off-handedly mentioned playing minecraft and Kung stated that him and Nireon owned a private server. The server to eventually be known as Delniqi was now hosted by a third party instead of by Nireon, but was still inhabited by only 3 members. JT found interest in this small private server hosted by his friends, especially the large builds already made by Kung which included the "Admin Sphere" of Metropolis , Selinipolis , patchwork fortress , and Nireon's Pyramid . JT set up his first house on a cliff nearby.
Before the server went public Kung was the main authority and paid for the third-party hosting. This hosting, however, turned out to be very unreliable as major rollbacks would end up wiping out hours of work on JTPROG's Ocean Farm. This made JT uneasy as he had no way to control restarting of the server (which could remain offline for days) or backups of the hard work put in to his builds. He began working on a project to host the server himself in collaboration with Kung which would allow much better customizability and full control over server functions. At the time it was a daunting task as neither JT nor Kung knew anything about hosting a server, let alone the initially complicated plugins of worldguard, worldedit, etc. However, inspired by the prospect of a public launch, JT decided it would be worth the effort. After much initial testing the server was taken down from third party hosting and was hosted privately on JT's server which, at the time, was a slow 1.8Ghz 2gb RAM CPU . JT protected what had initially been built by the four members under the region "QZALL" and prepared for a public launch in the near future.
The Day the Server Went Public
One day (June 10, 2011) JT decided he would post an ad on planetminecraft to see if anyone would log on the server while he went to do some errands. He posted the ad and quickly left, not knowing the chaos that would soon ensue. About an hour later he receieved a call from a confused Nireon stating that there were about 20 people on the server, unaware that JT had posted an ad. He also said that they were stealing every torch in sight, griefing the bridge between metropolis and his pyramid, and running around killing each other. JT advised Nireon on how to perform an emergency shutdown so he could later fix the blatant security flaws (at the time torches could be broken in protected regions unless specifically disallowed) and perform a manual rollback (no hawkeye or bigbrother). After much tweaking the server was put back online.
The Early Days and Naming of the Server
In the early days there was no such thing as warps (except market) or TP requests on the server. Players had to travel by foot to find each other, usually meeting at market (old market) before heading out. This wasn't too bad as at the time the server was fairly small and almost all points of interest were in walking distance. The first non-admin player made town was built not far from metropolis. Kungming2 made a tower with an eye on top, similar to the Tower of Sauron (LOTR) to "watch" over this group of newbies. Other towns would soon emerge when players such as pokemon1188, violetriot, and others began to construct what would now be considered "oldslums".