Oldweb.Today Lets You Surf The Web '90s-Style, So Here's What 7 Old Sites Used To Look Like
I remember the first email I ever sent. It was to my cousin J.T. and it was an invitation for a sleepover. It felt important. We were in 3rd grade. The whole concept of "the Interwebs" was kind of hard to wrap my brain around at the time, and I wish sometimes that I could have really experienced the birth of Internet as a fully-formed human. But now, thanks to Oldweb.Today, a site that lets you surf the web '90s-style, I can do that. Kind of.
Created by Ilya Kramer and Dragan Espenschied, Oldweb.Today is not just an archive of old webpage screenshots. Instead, the program asks you to enter a URL and then choose a browser (Netscape! Do you guys remember Netscape?! Firefox, Safari, Chromium and Internet Explorer are also available), operating system (Macintosh, Linux or Windows), and date. The site's intention is to simulate the site, based on its current appearance and level of finesse, to appear as it would with '90s technology. And you can interact with it! Totally rad. Where is my scrunchie?
While I was only 8 years old when Y2K rolled around, I still remember some basic websites I used to access during my extremely limited computer time — so I thought I'd try them out. By default, Oldweb.Today chooses the best browser for each site; I could change it manually, but who am I to question its judgment? But though the browser may change from example to example, I set each one to the same date: Dec. 8, 1999. Here's how it went.
Everyone's favorite search engine, which was launched in 1998, looks remarkably similar to its current form. Sure, it's clunkier and there are a lot of weird hyperlink things, but overall, this is good work. Good job, Google. A-plus.
I tried again with Chromium on Linux and this was the result. Scrolling is terrible because it makes the page wavy and me seasick.
Ah, Geocities. The original website builder. Is this appealing or what?
Oh my god. "Let the world know the story of your life, as it happens! (whether they want to or not)." Sensational. Also 8-year-old me would have thought Frank the Sheep was so subversive and cool. I would have tried to turn it into an inside joke.
Once I had exhausted my very small cache of '90s websites (dELiA's was, unfortunately, unavailable on any of the browsers), I decided to use Oldweb.Today's random website generator. First up:
5. Yahoo Entertainment
Not just Yahoo Entertainment, the Yahoo Entertainment Reggae/Dub page. Duh. There was no actual music to be played, though, because the '90s were limited to MIDI files. Apart from the initial delight at the Reggae/Dub distinction, I thought it was a bit snooze-y.
6. Real Estate Listings
Oh, heck yes. This is a housing website from 1996. Look at those jeans. Look at those poses. I am here for this. Why isn't this just called www.dad.com?
Who is this? What is this? Why is this? The '90s were weird, man. Really, really, really weird.