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The 1990s were an interesting time for the internet. Everybody knew the internet was something with amazing potential but nobody really knew what to do with that potential.
So what did they do? They made rad-looking websites coded in raw HTML. These websites contained hardly anything other than links and images but they still managed to promote movies, market products, and be the front page for multibillion dollar businesses.
Don’t believe me? I’ve got proof! Here are the top 5 best websites from the 1990s that still survive to this day in their original form:
5) Clinton Gore 96 campaign website
In 1996, Bill Clinton and Al Gore wanted to “build a bridge to the 21st century.” As time would tell, that’s exactly what they did.
A large part of their 1996 campaign success can be directly attributed to this “Election 96 Clinton Gore” website. That website lets internet users hear “real audio” from both the president and vice president. Bill Clinton also talks about NetDay, an October 1996 event where “one-fifth of California’s schools were connected to the Net on one day.” Wow!
For a website built in 1996, it’s actually not bad at all. It features lots of information along with audio files, images, and even a nifty design.
4) CNN’s OJ Simpson online trial center
If you were paying close attention to the OJ Simpson trial and wanted to stay up-to-date on the latest news, then you would have turned on your dial-up internet connection and logged onto this CNN.com masterpiece.
That neatly arranged website provides all the important information about the case, including the verdict, suspect, victims, murder, etc. All of CNN’s stories on the case are also listed below the header with “hyperlinks” to each story. It’s basic but effective.
I like this website because it shows how far CNN has come. Today, if a major news event occurs, CNN creates a complex, media-rich operations center where visitors can learn everything they need to know about the issue as quickly as possible. They also did this in 1995 but were restricted to the technology they had available.
3) USA Today’s Fantasy Baseball page from 1996
Fantasy sports are a great way for non-athletes to feel like they play real sports. Today’s fantasy sports leagues and websites are technological masterpieces with up-to-the-minute score updates, detailed player tracking, and complex projected value algorithms.
Back in 1996, however, online fantasy baseball was still in its infancy. Check out USA Today’s fantasy baseball homepage from 1996 here. Back in the day, it looks like the fantasy baseball homepage was just some guy at his computer updating the website’s source code as scores rolled in throughout the day.
Still, the website had a lot of detailed statistics and information about all MLB players. It looks like it took a lot of work to make but let’s be honest: an eighth-grader in a computer science class in 2014 would receive an ‘F’ if he tried to hand in this pile of garbage today.
2) Space Jam’s promotional site
Space Jam is widely regarded as one of the cinematic masterpieces of all time. Just kidding. It was a pretty ridiculous movie. But kids – including myself at the time – fell in love with it. Plus, it had an awesome sound track.
It could be argued that Space Jam would not have been nearly as successful as it was without the hard work of its awesome website. Created in 1996 by Warner Bros., that website lives on here.
Like many websites of the time, Space Jam’s promo site featured simple images, text, and a static background. Still, it was high-tech for 1996 and brought audiences into movie theaters across the country.
1) Mark Zuckerberg’s ancient Angelfire website.
Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Angelfire and Geocities were all the rage. They were the best ways to make free websites online. In 1999, 15-year old Mark Zuckerberg – the man who would go on to found Facebook just a few years later – made a website in Angelfire that is hilariously embarrassing.
That website was found here but has since been deleted. Bits and pieces of his website have been scattered across the internet, however, including his obsession with Eminem and a list of all his friends and classmates (sounds like Mark had quite the competition with a young Korean student named Douglas Kim!).
I’ve got some good news for you, however. The site has been partially archived here. The blog is not totally ridiculous and embarrassing – it also showcases some of Mark’s earliest work coding applets and games.
The best part about all of these websites is how fast they load. There’s hardly any information on them! Just a click and they pop up on your screen. Awesome. Got any more 90s websites to share? Post them in the comments below and we’ll add the best ones to our list!