Throwback Thursday: 7 Totally Rad 90s Websites
Guest Post By Sam Shelley
When looking back at the late 1990s, it's pretty easy to get carried away with criticism. The outfits were often ill-fitting and garish, the music didn't quite have the passion found in the previous decade, bucket hats were a legitimate choice of head wear, and we all wanted to part our stupid bowl cuts straight down the middle. However, it's important to remember that it wasn't simply a ten year cringe-fest, but that some of our most valued technology found its commercial footings in the 1990s. From fax machines to mobile telephones, the 1990s signaled a time when the cost of computer components had finally fallen to a point where the dream of a computer in every home was possible, and then world embraced the change in a big way.
With all of these changes came Web 1.0, a garish and attention grabbing place where spinning GIFs, eye-melting backgrounds and short repetitive MIDI loops ruled. Although these primitive websites would probably drive us all the way to the brink now, at the time we were curious. Was this what the future would look like? Why was it so loud? Why was everything spinning?
Here we look at seven of the best websites from the 90s in all their flashing, beeping, unusable glory:
1. Google, 1998Here we start with the titan of the Internet, the search giant Google, whose 15th birthday just happened to be yesterday. You can see that over time their logo has subtly changed, dropping the unfashionable drop shadow effect in favor of a more subtle shading and less blocky coloring. They have also dropped the stripes. Its worth noting the not so subtle brag that they have successfully indexed 25 million web pages, which is truly laughable considering Google currently tracks over 35 billion pages!
2. MSN, 1995MSN's website was looking incredibly bare bones in 1995. The slogan "made fresh daily" seems much more applicable to a bakery than a news aggregate competing to become the front page of the Internet, a fight that we know didn't go quite as intended.
3. Amazon, 1995Amazon seemed to have stayed true to their 1995 design, sticking to the blue and orange color scheme. We see in the picture that by this time, they had already branched out and started offering more products than just books. Little did they know that in the near future there wouldn't be much that they wouldn't sell.
4. New York Times, 1996Here the New York Times has a distinctly Web 1.0 feel about it, probably caused by the use of beige against white. Another subtle throwback is the lack of PPC ads. In their place are per-arranged static advertisements, a sight only really seen on lower profile blogs selling 125x125 ad space.
5. BBC News, 1998Here the BBC seems to have adopted a red star as their web logo, an unusual choice considering the association that can be made with the Soviet Union, North Korea, and revolutionaries.
6. Lycos, 1998It's hard to imagine Lycos being the world's number one search engine, but at one point it was exactly that. In fact, not only was it the most visited search engine for a period of time, but it was also the first company to make serious headway in indexing the web. Nowadays Lycos seems to be lacking the momentum it had in the 90s and has only 2000 likes on Facebook, as many as a funny cat picture might get in an hour. Not a great testament to the company's 20 year legacy.
7. Wild Wild West, 1999This is the website for the Will Smith film Wild Wild West, a steam punk western adventure. One of the best bits of this website is the oddly specific instructions encouraging you to "click on the large arrow at the bottom right" (which is actually pretty small) and the fact that this website is actually still live!
Sam Shelley is a keen blogger and retro-tech enthusiast who is currently writing in association with secure data transfer provider More Than a VDR.