07 March 2009

5 Major Websites (That Used To Look Like Crap)

In this edition of The Shark Tank, we're taking you BACK...to the FUTURE! Well, actually, we're going back to the past. We're going back, courtesy of the Internet Wayback Machine (aka, the HTML Delorean), to look at five of the most popular websites that have, shall we say, come a long way, baby. Without further ado, let's pump this thing up to 88 mph and head out on the information superhighway of yesterday. The only question is...do we have enough road to make it?

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need any roads."

#5. Google

There's literally no point in giving Google any kind of introduction at all. If you don't know what it is, we would tell you to Google it, but then you would be even more confused than ever. Suffice to say, we're not sure how you found The Shark Tank on your first day surfing the Internet, but we're glad to have you. Now, take a look at the search engine Goliath in its fledgling days: 1998 (on the Stanford server, no less!)

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"Great Scott!"

#4. Yahoo

Though it has long since lost the search engine war to the mighty Google, Yahoo remains one of the most popular sites on the Web. With one ill-advised feature after another, Yahoo manages to stay afloat with commercial appeal, name brand recognition, and that hilarious, gossipy OMG weekly feature (did you SEE what Kate Hudson was wearing??). Here's how they looked way back in 1996:

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"I remember when this was all farmland as far the eye could see. Old man Peabody owned all of this. He had this crazy idea about breeding pine trees."

#3. MySpace

Long the king of social networking, MySpace has recently fallen to number two, thanks to the simple (and we do mean simple) pleasures of Facebook. Still, MySpace remains an enormously successful Internet juggernaut, thanks to increased customization, a huge music-based following, and people who have invested too much time in their layouts to just leave it all behind. The funny thing about MySpace isn't so much what they used to look like under current management, but how many other companies had the domain, but failed to take advantage of it. Here are three snapshots from Myspace.com's history, with the last one being the current MySpace's earliest known configuration:

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"Damn Damn!"

#2. Facebook

Well, why not. Tagging and status updating might be out of control, but there's no denying the power of Facebook when it comes to uniting people on the Internet. If only these people had been able to realize that potential:

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Then there was the earliest inception of the current Facebook, from 2006, when the site was geared mainly to college students (although, now there are TWO Facebooks!):

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"Look. There's a rhythmic ceremonial ritual coming up."

#1. Youtube

As hard as it is to believe that YouTube has only been around since 2005, it's even harder to believe that it was almost a dating site:

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"Please excuse the crudity of this model. I didn't have time to build it to scale."


Lonnie said...

Back to the Future references = WIN

Maureen said...

Love your BTTF stuff... and yes, the Internet Wayback Machine is awesome!

Chris said...

Awesome - I wonder what the MySpace companies are thinking right now ...
Probably includes the words "idiot" and "stupid".

Anonymous said...

a. you stole my comment:
"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need any roads."

b. i think that old yahoo site was stolen from some of my old HTML-rific websites built in the 90's.

JD at I Do Things said...

Huh. Interesting to see the changes some of these sites have gone thru from the early days when they had no idea what they would become.

Shawn said...

Lonnie: Thanks

Maureen: yeah it is. So interesting.

Chris: Well, I guess the domain itself isn't all that great. Still, though...yeah, they must have some regrets.

"Anon": Right down to the "cool" section ;)

JD: Except for Google. Design-wise, they never really bothered to go much further.