Remember The World Wide Web – 1996

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Tech History –

The Early World Wide Web – Do You Remember?

  We’re far along now for the Internet to have a history. I signed on back in 1996 and as you all know – the World Wide Web (we didn’t really call it the Internet back then) was wide open. The experience – exciting – but clunky. There was very little audio to be heard, photos were rarer – and certainly – no video.

Back in 1996 –  Netscape was our browser, Yahoo was the #1 search engine and it competed with the likes of Alta Vista, Lycos, and Excite. Others came such as Go2net, infoseek, snap and geocities. Mp3 audio was about to come out (1997) and, forget about any kind of streaming. CD ROM’s were becoming the rage. Google 1997 Gary West geekbraindump tech history Bulletin boards were opening up to message boards. It was a great way to share information from a web site.

Web-TV – a way to look at the World Wide Web on your television – launched in 1996. Philips Magnavox Introduces Web-TV … Now your kids can watch TV and do homework at the same time. No computer or computer skills required.” $329. Optional wireless keyboard – $69.95. WebTV requires monthly subscription service. Unlimited access is only $19.95…”

AOL, Compuserve & Earthlink gave us access to the WWW. All in living dial-up fashion (DSL came along around 1999). We all remember our computers “talking” during dial-up. Burst… static (white noise)… burst… static . It was speaking our language. Most of the music we heard came from MIDI (you’ll have to look that one up).

Personally – I loved that era because – anything went. We didn’t know anything about anything. Those pesky copyright laws didn’t really apply – and most of us who had website actually had pretty decent audiences – especially – if we were first within a decent category. You were considered a trailblazer if you had a website back then.

All us owned those CRT screens – but WHOA… look out. By 1999 those plasma flat screens looked pretty cool. Trouble was – they were about $5,000. The future looked good.  The big PC makers back then were: HP, Compaq, Dell, Apple and do you remember emachines? Also in 1999 – Sega, Nintendo and Sony were the video game industry leaders. Sony of course, with its “Playstation” game console – began the era of the super game consoles.

Many of us have memories of websites gone by. I remember, there was a great one saluting the late George Reeves – TV’s “Superman” complete with MIDI-generated theme song from the original series. And, interestingly – how about those celebrity-type folks who had websites then – passed-on. Many are long gone. What are your earliest remembrances of the World Wide Web?


Gary West

Historian Gary West built his first website in 1998 with That addressed now forwards to - an amazing pop culture/news database with 25,000 pages, covering the years 1955-2014. He's also the author of - covering consumer technology from 1952 to the present. West has been a contributor to numerous books, radio-TV shows, CNN & USA Today & the History Channel.

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  1. Eli Etherton July 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    It’s funny to think back to when people were addicted to Chat… I had friends that would spend 5-6 hours at a time glued to their keyboards “chatting” with people. Now those same people are parents scared crapless because their kids are using snapchat.

    • Gabriel Graves July 14, 2014 at 12:36 am

      I remember having to use my Aunt’s signon because we didn’t have AOL. Chatrooms were full of bots so they quickly became boring when I was using them.

  2. Yannis July 12, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Ahh yes I remember those good old days! First joined the internet back in 1994.MS-DOS , Telix and Terminate (irc,lynx,usenet,gopher) with a 14.400bit modem for BBS access or MS Win 3.1 with Trumpet Winsock and Netscape.No antivirus, no internet control.It was mostly an underground place than a commercial environment.

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