Top 8 Relics of the Internet

This week Microsoft officially announced the death of Hotmail.  At one time the service giant was the most popular email client on the internet, but soon found itself lagging behind competitors such as Yahoo and Gmail.  Finally, after 16 years Microsoft has decided to do away with the platform all together and roll it into their service.  This happened to me personally last week when I was informed that my hotmail address (Yeah I still have one!  What’s it to ya?) had been migrated to Outlook.  Hotmail now joins a long list of relics of the internet and I decided this week we should count down my favorite eight relics of internet past.  So strap on your nostalgia helmets, hop in the way-back machine, and let’s take a trip down internet memory lane.




#8. I fondly remember this as being the first search engine I used on the internet back in the late 1990’s.  It was founded in 1996 and designed to answer questions posed by its users in everyday language.  We would sit in the computer lab in high school and ask Jeeves any ridiculous question we could come up with just to see what the results would be.  More often than not that resulted in slamming directly into the firewall the school had erected to protect us from ourselves.  The site still exists to this day but only as  Jeeves has gone into retirement and the site is most famous now for its toolbar installation that many consider to be malware because of the inability to remove it on most browsers using the OS built-in uninstall function.





Geocities-Logo#7. Geocities- This web hosting service was founded in 1994 and by 1999 was the third most visited website on the internet behind only Yahoo and AOL.  Yahoo quickly purchased the service and things immediately began to go downhill.  Users left in droves due to the new terms of service prompting Yahoo to reverse its decisions.  However that was the beginning of the end for the web-hosting service that we all probably visited daily.  By 2009 Yahoo declared that Geocities was dead…at least in the U.S.  They still offer the free web hosting service in Japan.  There are a few websites out there that did their best to archive the information contained on Geocities before its closure and if you have some free time it can be rather entertaining to visit them and look up those web sites of old that you used to visit regularly.






#6. Before Facebook was a household name, before Google+ grouped us all together, and before anyone really knew what a Twitter was, there was Myspace.  It was the social network where you could connect with friends and be forced to view their garish homepages decorated in the gaudiest fashion and proliferated with music that forced you to turn your computer speakers off.  It was an html lovers wet dream.  It was founded in 2003 and between 2005 and 2008 was the most visited social networking site in the world.  It even went so far as surpassing Google in 2006 as the most visited website in all of the United States.  Then Mark Zuckerberg came along and killed it.  Today it is co-owned by Justin Timberlake and even with his name behind it, it continues to see decreases in users ranking it 258 in website traffic by Alexa.






#5. Prodigy- This very early online service was founded in 1984 in a joint venture between CBS, IBM, and Sears.  It claimed to be the first consumer online service, despite CompuServe being founded five years prior, because of its difference in interface from the older company.  In essence Prodigy was the very first internet portal.  It allowed its users access to everything from shopping to weather to message boards all in one place.  Slowly it transitioned itself into a standard ISP and by 2001, when it was purchased by SBC, it was the fourth largest ISP behind AOL, MSN, and Earthlink.  Once AT&T was purchased by SBC, the Prodigy name began to disappear.  As of 2011 AT&T no longer supported Prodigy-created webpages and as of 2013 only serves up an error message.






#4. Napster- Even though there were already networks that allowed the distribution of files across the internet, Napster brought it to the forefront.  Specializing in MP3 format and with a user friendly interface, it allowed its 80 million registered users to share files and basically change the music industry forever.  They were quickly sued by several major record labels, Metallica, and Dr. Dre.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them and in 2001 they were shut down.  Although, not before online piracy became a debate that still rages to this day.  Napster still exists as an online music store owned by Best Buy and Rhapsody.




hampster dance


#3. Hampster Dance- One of the earliest versions of an internet meme, the hamster dance was created by a Canadian art student in 1998.  It featured animated hampsers and other rodents dancing to a sped-up sample from the song Whistle Stop by Roger Miller.  After a few months online, daily hits went from 4 per day to over 15,000!  If you didn’t receive a link to the page in an email or jokingly end up with your browser homepage set to it then you obviously were not using much internet back in 1999.  The song was re-recorded and used in films and tv spots for Earthlink.  In 2005 it was named the #1 web fad.  If for some reason you don’t remember this meme or just wanna see it one more time, here is the best incarnation of the classic hampster dance that I could find quickly today.






#2. AOL- America Online was around all the way back in 1983 under a different name and by 1989 donned the name we are all familiar with.  It sold itself as an online service for people who were not familiar with computers.  In 1991 AOL for DOS was launched and a year later AOL for Windows followed.  It quickly passed GEnie, Prodigy, and CompuServe as the leading online service provider.  AOL merged with Time Warner and in 2006 began giving away many of its features for free to users who accessed their service via a non AOL-owned method.  By 2009 paid subscribers had dropped to nearly five million.  It is still around today, having purchased the Huffington Post and reformed itself as a digital media company.  However, long gone are the days of dialing up and chatting with your pals on the AOL instant messenger.




Our trip down memory lane is nearly complete.  Yet, there is one more relic of internet days gone by for us to relish.  It’s an important relic.  An innovative relic.  And yet a relic nonetheless.  For its brief period of time it symbolized the internet as a whole and is partially responsible for one of the most famous internet-themed court cases of all time.  Have my fellow geeks out there figured out what number one will be?  Well let’s not keep anyone waiting any longer.  My number one relic of the internet is…..







netscape navigator


#1. Netscape Navigator- This was the web browser that begat all web browsers.  Navigator was released in 1994 and easily became the market leader in web browsers.  It became the standard on almost all platforms, especially that of Windows.  It introduced on-the-fly display of web pages which allowed users to view graphics and text as they downloaded instead of staring at a blank screen until the entire page had been loaded over their connection.  Navigator also brought innovations such as “cookies” and JavaScript.  With a usage share of more than 50% Navigator was easily the most popular web browser.  This was exactly why Bill Gates had to destroy it!  All hail Bill Gates!!  In 1995, using the exact same source code, Microsoft released IE 1.0.  In 1996 IE 3.0 was released and Microsoft began to compete with the browsing behemoth.  By 1999, with IE 5.0, Microsoft began to crush its competitor.  Through what SOME may feel were illegal business practices, Microsoft destroyed Netscape Navigator’s market presence and by 2002 it was practically negligible.  Due to its impact on the internet, a 2007 PC World column called Netscape Navigator the best tech product of all-time.




There you have it folks!  My top eight relics of internet days past.  I hope you all enjoyed our trek down memory lane.  Were there any items you feel should have made the list?  Were there any on the list you feel should NOT have??  Let me know in the comments section below or drop me a line.  You can follow me on Twitter @SeanMLScott or email me at [email protected].  Until next time, Allons-y!!

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