It’s difficult to believe the internet as we know it is over 20 years old! And if you’re as old as I am, you remember every part of it’s evolution. Jumping on the old nostalgia bandwagon, we thought we’d remind you of some of the stuff you may have forgotten about the internet, including some stuff which still exists!
Most of us old enough have been using the web since it hit the mainstream in 1995/1996, and it revolutionized so much of our lives. Today we can’t imagine a world without it, and for it’s many many faults, you can’t deny it’s greatness. From shopping, banking, having fun and having 99.9% of information available at the click of a mouse or tap of a touch screen, we use the web daily, hourly, and some of us more than we should.
This got me thinking about the web, the passing fads which gripped us all for a moment in time, down to the internet stalwarts, some of which are still available; so we thought we’d remind some of you of these web beauties and inform those of you new to the web about how easily pleased we were back then 😉
So, first up we have Ask Jeeves..
Ask Jeeves was basically a glorified search engine (which were still fairly new back then). Jeeves was your personal internet butler, you’d ask it a question like “how many number ones did the Rolling Stones have?”, or “What time is it in Rio?” and Jeeves would answer you; yeah, as I said, it was basically a search engine. But at a time when the web was still in it’s infancy, repackaging something like this was genius and Jeeves gained worldwide popularity, even having primetime TV advertising. Now it still exists as ask.com, and sadly is just a (fairly poor) search engine.
Next up is Love @ Lycos.
Love at Lycos was an early dating service. Before Match.com and eHarmony, Love at Lycos had a similar ethos to dating sites but with more focus on chatting and flirting. Loads of us had an account at one point, but not many of us found the love of our lives on L@L. It was great fun, and although it no longer exists, bizarrely Lycos still exists (who knew?) and they have Lycos Chat for those of you wanting to reminisce and rekindle some of the fun chatting we did back in the day. Just ask people a/s/l 😉
Dial Up Internet!
Need I say more? For those who joined the web during the broadband days, you won’t understand the pain of dial up. Basically you accessed the web using your landline phone (ask your parents), and hit speeds of 56 kilobits, to put that into perspective, your fibre broadband of 60 megabits would be 60000 kilobits, that’s over 1000 times faster. Not only that you had the headache inducing noise of the internet dialing up (see below) no one could use the phone while you were online, and you paid each time you connected, so some of us can remember very large phone bills dropping through the door.
Next we have a favourite of mine, Friends Reunited
Before the days of Facebook, Friends Reunited popped up and we loved it. You could reconnect with school chums, and make contact with the boy who beat you up every lunch time in school (if you wanted to). you’d register your details, link your profile to your school then chat to old mates. It was unlike anything we’d seen at the time and for some of us, allowed us to catch up with mates from our school days. After facebook came on the scene, Friends Reuniteds days were numbered; they tried to re-launch a few times, but like My Space, they were too late
Speaking of which, next up is My Space.
My Space was the first social media platform which really resonated with people. Like facebook, you could create a profile, add mates, post links to crap you’d find on the web etc etc. But when Facebook came along, like the sheep we are we all flocked to the new site leaving My Space crying in the corner. My Space just couldn’t keep up, they added new features and tried in vain to compete, but Facebook was just too quick. My Space didn’t die though, after some high profile purchases from News Corp, then Time Inc. My Space finally found a niche, as a music platform, focusing on new artists, and although it didn’t (and probably never will) reach the heights it used to, at least it didn’t die like Friends Reunited.
People’s First dabble in illegal music downloads, we now have Napster!
Napster was unbelievable when it launched, you could search and download almost any song you’d heard of for free! Of course it was very illegal, but for most of us, we didn’t see the problem, well not until Lars from Metallica declared War on napster! Napster came around the time many music systems were able to play MP3 CDs, so you could fit around 150 songs on one cd! This was it, many of us were downloading 1000s of songs weekly, squeezing them onto CDs, creating special mix cds and listening to songs we’d not heard in years. But of course it wasn’t to last, and after copyright lawyers got involved Napster was stopped, but now exists as a legal music service, who uses it, I’ve no idea.
Another of my faves, Yahoo Chat Rooms
Yahoo, still a great site in it’s own right, was much more than a search engine, many think it was this business model of trying to do it all which caused it’s many downfalls over the years; think of google who focused on becoming the biggest and best search engine around before dipping their toes into other areas, and look what what they’re doing now! But one of Yahoos most fun areas was their chat rooms; rooms which covered so much from knitting to gun ownership. There were no moderators, and you could say what you wanted. This was popular in my house after a few drinks, and hours of fun could be had while also making friends. Then the age of the troll came along and these rooms were no longer viable, sigh.
For those who forgot (how could you), we now have the Hamster Dance!
In the early days of the web, flash games and movies were very popular; easy to make, small in size and they took over the web. However, this crazy little video was seen by ANYONE who used the web, just a loop of a high pitched, highly addictive little tune with an overlay of some hamster clip arts dancing, it was seen by all and that tune stayed with you for days! (also see dancing baby) 😉
Something I dabbled in, Fansites & Geocities
Fansites popped up shortly after geocities did. Geocities was one of many, but the biggest, website where you could create your own websites! Imagine that, we could all now stick whatever we wanted on the web! Fansites for movies, tv shows, bands, singers etc started popping up in their thousands every single day! My first one can be viewed here, apologies, it was a Days of Our Lives fansite! Yahoo soon bought geocities and it went on to house 38 million sites, but by 2009 the company was losing a lot of money and it was announced it would be closed down, with only the Japanese geocities remaining, which it still does today. www.archive.org announced it would archive all geocities sites when geocities closure was announced, so if you remember any of the old sites you used to visit or created for that matter, head on over to archive and prepare to feel all nostalgic.
One of the first and best browsers, Netscape Navigator
Before we all settled for Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox, IE and Netscape Navigator ruled the roost, with Netscape the number browser during part of the 90s. Netscape was a fast and believe it or not, quite pretty browser. The Microsoft started to bundle IE with their PCs, and Netscape couldn’t keep up; they tried and tried, but by 2005 their user base was almost non existent.
I’m finishing this article with a few honorable mentions; namely, instant messengers, there were a few but MSN messenger was top, followed by others like ICQ; they were a way to keep in contact with mates around the world, offering instant chat, even voice calls for free using your internet connection; like many though, Skype and Facebook put an end to these as they were know. Another mention for silly email usernames; my first was firstname.lastname@example.org, then gelboy.rm when Yahoo purchased them, then simsyboy, which stays with me to this day, even though I’m no longer a boy or no longer use gel in my hair. And last but not least is Limewire, similar to Napster but you could download almost anything; software, movies, tv shows; yep it was file sharing, illegal like napster, and died a death when flooded with virus files.
So that’s it, if you want to add anything, let us know in the comments. Hope you’re feeling warm and nostalgic now, and I expect still with the hamster dance song in your head! 😉