How 10 Big Websites Looked in 1997
The year was 1997, Wannabe by the Spice Girls and MMMbop by Hanson were at the top of the Billboard charts and AOL was the Internet service provider and Microsoft was getting ready to launch Windows 98. The Internet was a very different place at this time. It was a place filled with obnoxious fonts, sparkling animated gif logos, and what very well may be the first viral meme, the hamster dance, was circulating everywhere. Websites looked nothing like they look like now.
With a magical tool called the Wayback Machine, we’re able to travel back and look at the homepages of some of the biggest sites around over 15 years ago.
Here’s how 10 big websites looked in 1997:
Apple was struggling in the ’90s… and so was their website design. Probably one of the coolest things to notice when looking back at the old Apple website is how they were already pushing mobile devices. In this case, they were promoting the eMate 300, which ran with Apple’s Newton platform.
The White House has a stunning website now, but back in 1997, it wasn’t the most beautiful of web destinations. It also only had very simple functionality. You could just browse documents… no heroic looking Presidential photographs were to be found on the 1997 version of the White House website.
Microsoft was getting ready to launch the highly anticipated Windows 98 back in 1997. The old website features a somewhat comedic headline, “Internet Explorer 4.0 Debuts to Critics’ Applause.” Microsoft is at a very different moment in its life… perhaps a less confident moment in its life. CFO Amy Hood recently said, “We know we have to do better.”
This one probably shouldn’t be here because Google didn’t actually have a website in 1997. This is what Google looked like early in 1998. The only reason the now giant tech company had such a minimal design was because they didn’t have anybody working with them that knew HTML.
This a pre-Google Yahoo. Yahoo was more of a directory than a search engine back in 1997. Yahoo seems to be getting its game back recently with a series of high-profile company acquisitions.
This look back at The New York Times website back in 1997 gives us a glimpse at both what newspaper websites used to look like and some old headlines. It’s pretty entertaining to see people were struggling with the complexities of Internet Explorer over 15 years ago.
GeoCities was where you built your ideas on rather than creating a blog back in 1997. Most of the GeoCities websites looked horrible. Yahoo acquired GeoCities and it was shut down in 2009, long after the height of its popularity.
The AOL website back in 1997 advertised the brand new AOL Instant Messenger, which eventually became extremely popular. There was also an offer to try AOL for free, which was ultimately one of the things that got many people on the Internet for the very first time.
Unfortunately, the Wayback Machine didn’t have any versions of Amazon saved from 1997, but this is the Amazon site in 1999. Compared to the other sites on this list, the Amazon website is pretty modern looking.
The biggest competitor to Yahoo in 1997 wasn’t Google, but rather AltaVista. What’s even crazier to think about is how Yahoo doesn’t even have its own search engine anymore– it’s just a re-branded version of Microsoft’s Bing.