We regularly feel nostalgia for the music, film, TV, and clothing of yore, and at this point we should also include our fondness for the internets of previous eras. We ululate the old, weird internet of the mid-’00s, when “the blogosphere” felt revolutionary and disruptive, and we gaze upon computer instructional videos from the early ’90s with rose-colored glasses. Remember when we didn’t know what an electronic mail was? AOL discs, Geocities pages, AIM Away Messages, Jeeves, keyboard-pounding hacking: These are all sources of modern affection, especially given that the internet that we currently explore is a corporatized wasteland of racist anime fans and frazzled, bug-eyed conspiracy theorists screaming at each other about pizza. Also, Shrek.
Which is not to say that the internet of 2017 is somehow fundamentally bad—it is also fine and funny; here are dogs and here is art—just that those earlier times are worth revisiting. Thus, Timeline’s rundown of 14 incredibly useless websites from the early ’90s is a nutritious supplement to your browsing today.
The picks run the gamut. Here is the simpler sort of “My First Homepage” that a man named Scott made for his car, Judy. It is nice.
There was a website called Purple.com that was the color purple.
And one devoted to the letter A.
Some of the more utility-focused ones show a charming absurdist streak that the internet still enjoys today, perhaps to its detriment. Either that, or they are serious, anticipating the bottomless supply of YouTube tutorials that would someday be produced. There is an illustrated guide to crackers that is rendered entirely in black and white and contains a background of eternal saltine.
Also instructions on how to vomit.
And so on. The internet! The whole article, which is worth checking out, has a lot more, and it draws an interesting line between these oddities and our current consumption patterns:
Entire websites dedicated to CD catalogs and the exquisite symmetry of the pound symbol now form the brittle backbone of sites like Buzzfeed, which combed Tumblr for ideas which Tumblr stole from blogs which evolved from the first websites, many of which were painfully worthless.