Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. And The Washington Post has taken it upon itself to make sure the history of the Internet is never forgotten and hopefully never repeated, lest we all return to the days of using Ask Jeeves. In an elaborate set of charts, The Post tracked the 20 most popular websites every year since 1996.
While there are some random oddities that pop up on the list (ever heard of “Excite” or “Primenet”?), there’s also a surprising amount of consistency. Versions of Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, and later Google have all stayed relatively near the top of the list. Facebook has steadily grown since its launch in 2007 while eBay has steadily declined since its heyday in the early 2000s (when it was a top five site for six years running). Really, the most interesting part of this chart is not the top but the middle, where the popularity of sites like Angelfire, Altavista, and Go2Net offer a true window to the past.
The full chart is available on The Washington Post’s website.