Snapshots From The Internet’s Awkward Phase

This is what online life looked like in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Before “Web 2.0” and back when Mark Wahlberg was Marky Mark.

1. Remember HotBot.com?

It was one of the web’s most popular early search engines. The above picture is the page on December 10th, 1997. This particular webpage is forever burned into my brain because it was always on my fourth grade teacher’s computer desktop (she was far too busy searching stuff on here to actually teach us anything, sadly).

But what about people who weren’t so fortunate as I was—people who didn’t get regular exposure the nexuses of the old internet? And what about people who were born in more recent times, who always thought that the current infrastructure of the web looked the way it does today?

A project called “The Wayback Machine” created by The Internet Archive has the answer to these questions. The Internet Archive was founded in 1996. Their mission was to, essentially, catalog the Internet like one might catalog a library. Or, in their words to offer “permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format” and to prevent “the Internet…and other ‘born-digital’ materials from disappearing into the past.”

What other sites have been preserved in history? And what did today’s current mega-behemoths look like in their awkward phase? Let’s take a look!

2. Yahoo.com (12/28/1996)

3. Geocities.com (4/13/1997)

4. AOL.com (4/21/1997)

5. NFL.com (10/18/1997)

Look at how the teams are grouped in the old divisions (Indianapolis Colts still in the AFC East and whatnot).

6. AskJeeves.com (12/6/1998)

Unfortunately, a lot of the images had problems loading on this site.

7. ESPN.com (12/12/1998)

Again, some of the images/ads didn’t survive the test of time.

8. Google.com (1/25/1999)

Before the billions of dollars, Google was just what you see here. A journey of billions dollars begins with a single search algorithm, it would seem.

9. NYTimes.com (2/8/1999)

Funnily enough, someone had been trying to squat on the “NewYorkTimes.com” domain name, as you’ll see in the next image.

10. “NewYorkTimes.com”

The times would eventually win out over the opportunistic individual who originally had the domain name.

11. Craigstlist.org (3/1/1999)

12. Lycos.com (4/27/1999)

For those who don’t know, Lycos was one of the premier search engines back in the day.

13. Here was one of their commercials:

14. Ebay.com (4/28/1999)

15. Startups.com (10/12/1999)

The rise and fall of Startups.com is emblematic of the dotcom boom and bust. This was the site in the glory days.

16. Amazon.com (10/13/1999)

17. Wikipedia.org (9/28/2002)

18. WorldofWarcraft.com (3/21/2003)

This was the site before World of Warcraft would become the world’s largest MMORPG, back when it was being beta tested and was just an anticipated game among Warcraft III fans.

19. MySpace.com (7/1/2004)

So many wasted nights…

20. HuffingtonPost.com’s first day (5/9/2005)

21. Reddit.com (8/8/2005)

22. YouTube.com (11/9/2006)

23. BleacherReport.com (11/12/2006)

BleacherReport.com is one of the nation’s largest online sports media destinations and was recently acquired by TBS. Back in 2006, before it got “famous,” this is what it looked like.

24. And, finally, BUZZFEED!

Buzzfeed.com on 11/5/2006, shortly before the site’s launch.

25. Buzzfeed in its very early days (11/21/2006)

26. Here’s an excerpt from the “About” page on the same date:

27. Here’s a cleaner build of the site on 1/7/2007 (SIX years ago!)

NOTE: The dog on the bottom of the page.

Hope you enjoyed the trip through Internet memory lane, all made possible by the work of the tireless Internet archivists at The Internet Archives.

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