Today, it seems near impossible to imagine a world in which the Internet did not exist. In fact, most people would probably admit that the idea of going even a day without the internet seems inconceivable. Staying away from Facebook or resisting the urge to Tweet for a mere 24 hours has become a feat few can claim to have achieved, with the average time spent on social networking sites today being around 3.8 hours a day.
With this in mind, it is easy to forget that the World Wide Web is actually no more than a quarter of a century old, as today it celebrates its 25th birthday. It was on March 12, 1989 that Sir Tim Berners-Lee presented the blueprint for the web – something which would completely transform the world.
However the internet didn’t always look like it does today. Google, for instance, didn’t enter the scene until the 90’s, and its original cartoon-esque logo seems far removed from todays. The now deleted, rather childish exclamation mark seems to really highlight the youth of the page, which has now matured into the sophisticated, stripped back homepage we know so well.
Google: Then and Now.
This polishing through the years appears common to all big sites. While the earlier webpages can be seen as indicative of a simpler time, since inferior download speeds meant they had to be fairy basic, they simultaneously managed to feel far more cluttered. Rather than the stylish, refined sites we’d recognise today, which often privilege simplicity and favour eye catching graphics over bulky sections of text, these early sites are more comparable to a GCSE student’s IT project. We can see this when comparing Apple’s 1997 homepage with today’s.
Apple then and now.
Moreover, Myspace, the site which attracted millions of users in its early days, has all but faded into the background along with other short-lived fads (one might remember Bebo), all overshadowed by the social networking giants Facebook.
Last years page v relaunch page
It is hard to believe that Facebook itself, founded in 2004 and now one of the most frequently visited websites in the world, was initially exclusive to Harvard University and named the far less catchy “The Facebook”. Despite retaining its original colouring, the site has completely transformed, and continues to develop and update at a rapid rate, with users having to constantly adapt.