Early Internet: GCO retro campaign post
Aw, the Internet. It’s come a long way since its early days! This post takes a nostalgic look back at some of the key differences between then and now…
The date of the Internet’s actual ‘invention’ is contested, with different people and organisations developing key aspects of the technology that has become known as the internet.
This aside, it was first used popularly in academia during the 80s, and became a worldwide network during the 90s. In around the year 2000, the Internet made its way into households and classrooms around the world, and as computers and laptops became more affordable, do did Internet services.
We now find ourselves in 2014. Some have never heard the sound of a dial-up modem and are entirely unaware of how basic the internet used to be!
Web development has been categorised into two eras – web 1.0 and web 2.0. ‘Early internet’ or web 1.0 wasn’t able to offer the functionality that we have today, and was mainly a tool for information retrieval – a bit like ceefax! Web 2.0 describes the current phase of the internet – the web that allows us to easily interact with each other. The development of websites such as Facebook have led the popularisation of this way of using the internet, but wasn’t responsible for it. That glory goes to early blogging platforms such as Livejournal andblogger all of which allowed internet users to become contributors.
The first internet page (pictured above) is still available for all to see, and there are some fascinating efforts to archive and catalogue old online efforts, especially graphics and images available at Internet Archeology. The Wayback Machine allows you to view a snapshot of an old website, looking exactly as it did when it was archived (vital when you consider how much websites change and develop over time).
I think it’s fascinating to stop and think about the online differences between then and now. Aside from the limited functionality, the most striking difference is how old websites looked. Because of the way the web worked in the early days (no broadband, low loading speeds and very manual processes to create web pages), design limited. Pages with lots of images could take aaaaaages to load, so they simply weren’t used as much, or we’d see lots of funny looking animated images, known as gifs (remember that weird dancing baby?!). Necessity is the mother of invention, and these animations were invented as a (basic) way of adding visual interest to a page without slowing it down too much.
Other key differences include the fact that people spent a lot of time in chat-rooms back then, wikipedia didn’t exist, and amazon was a place not a shop! It’s fascinating to compare old and new sites side-by-side. Take this Space Jam website which was created in 1996 to advertise the Warner Bros film. Next to the Lego Movie website, a current Warner Bros. film, it looks so very naff!
It’s plain to see, the internet really has come a long way in recent years, and who knows where it will allow us to go in the future. Better functionality, design and almost instant loading speeds mean the internet offers us more power, potential and benefit from being online than ever, the foundation of this being these strange-looking basic pages we’ve known, and mostly forgotten.
Liked this? Further articles and websites of interest include:
A timeline of Internet History http://www.internethalloffame.org/internet-history/timeline
Internet Archaeology http://www.internetarchaeology.org/mpeople.htm
History of the Internet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet