These days it's hard to imagine a time when the internet wasn't omnipresent in our lives. From phones to video game consoles to computers and even ovens internet-connected devices are only becoming more common.
But there was a time when the internet was new. Indeed, many 90s kids can recall the first time they heard this melody that opened the portal to a magical world filled with gifs, crazy home-made websites and videos that were literally the size of a thumbnail:
In case you have forgotten what the web was like in the 90s, I have compiled a few pages from popular companies and websites which were cached in the 90s. I am able to bring these to you thanks to the Way Back Machine Internet Archive. Each title is a link to the past. Please enjoy:
Microsoft (October, 1996)
First we have a tutorial put together by none other than Microsoft way back in 1995. I suggest you learn about what the internet is and how to use it before we move on. Don't worry, the tutorial has plenty of Windows 95 clip-art as illustrations to clarify each point.
Apple (May, 1998)
Wow. Just wow. When you compare this to Apple's current site it's hard to believe they were put out by the same company. But there are a couple things to remember here.
First, Apple was just starting their bid to come back from the edge of obscurity. Steve Jobs had recently returned to the company and had just begun to revitalize the struggling computer company. The iMac was a major reason Apple began to make a comeback.
The second thing to remember is that most people were using 56kps modems. This meant you had to use images sparingly and they had to be low quality to avoid long loading times.
IGN (December, 1998)
Here we have IGN's "Best Grpahics of 1998" for the Nintendo 64. While Banjo-Kazooie won the award for best overall graphics, Ocarina of Time managed to nab the "Best Environments" award. I love this page in particular because it's a reminder of how much creativity small teams of game-designers had to employ in order to use the limited capabilities of the Nintendo 64 to its fullest potential.
Nintendo (December, 1996)
The gaming giant was just taking its first steps into the World Wide Web in 1996. While their homepage looks like a web-site created by a modern-day high school student in a web design course. And it looks like a half-hearted "C-" effort at best.
The best part of this site is Nintendo's recommendations for finding an elusive Nintendo 64. They give three brief bullet points that essentially boil down to a shoulder-shrug and a non-committal muttering of, "We hope to have more on the shelves soon..."
Google (November, 1998)
"Just Google it," has become the universal term for finding information on pretty much anything there is to know. That wasn't always the case though as this early web-site for Google! demonstrates. You are given two options: an outdated search index, or an up-to-date search index with an engine that only sometimes works.
It's hard to believe that just over 15 years later this humble startup would be ruling the world.
Bethesda Softworks (October, 1996)
This page contains all the details on Bethesda's hotly anticipated second entry in the Elder Scrolls series. What's cool about this page is that many of the screenshots and midi files are still present, waiting to be downloaded.
It's hard to believe that Elder Scrolls has gone from this:
Nickelodeon (February, 1999)
Just a quick warning, the background of this site may cause seizures due to the intense shade of purple they used. Sadly, most of the links on this page are dead, but I couldn't exclude it because so many 90s kids would have visited it regularly back in the day.
Star Wars (July 1997)
The official website for the Star Wars Trilogy. Such was the description for the official website of the beloved series back in 1997. The site was promoting the release of the Special Editions of the original trilogy. It promises to keep fans up to date on all Star Wars news as well as shoot down any rumors. This is a reminder of a time when Star Wars began making its resurgence in pop-culture before the dreaded "prequel years."
YouTube (Jun, 2005)
Okay, I know this isn't technically from the 90s, but 90s kids are the last generation who will remember a world before the advent of YouTube. Seeing the site as it was when it first went up is truly remarkable. It was back in a day when it was primarily for anybody and everybody who wanted to show a piece of their life. This was a time long-before professional YouTubers, a time before companies saw it as a means to advertise. It was a time when YouTube represented the very essence of what the web is all about: Humanity connecting with each other and sharing in life's experiences. And then mocking others and their experiences through the armor of anonymity, while just butchering the English language and its attending grammar. The Internet truly is a blessed place.