The World's Most Popular Websites: How They Got Started

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Take a trip back to what the most popular websites used to look like!

what websites used to look like
Credit: Caiaimage/Sam Edwards

Ever wonder what the most popular websites such as Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, etc. looked like when they were brand new and first starting out on the Web? Now you can find out with the Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery. Unless otherwise noted, all these images are screenshots freely accessible from the Internet Archive.

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The Internet Movie Database

The Internet Movie Database
IMDB.

The Internet Movie Database was simply laid out and easy to use even back in 1997, but of course looks quite a bit different than it does now. 

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LiveJournal

LiveJournal
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

LiveJournal is a very popular social networking site that looked quite a bit different when it started in 1999. Initially, users utilized LiveJournal to write out thoughts and feelings and share them via online journals, aka blogs; now the site has become a platform for larger communities and forums. 

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FirstGov.gov

FirstGov.gov
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

The first view that the public had of FirstGov.gov was simply a placeholder page; the text says "Welcome to the future home of FirstGov, a U.S. Government website that will provide free rapid access to government information and services to the public." Now FirstGov - known as USA.gov - is one of the best U.S. government sites on the Web. 

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Google

google
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Google made its presence known on the Web in 1998, rapidly becoming the world's most used search engine. Google dominates search, with billions of user queries carried out every day. 

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IBM

IBM
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

IBM, one of the world's leading technology providers, didn't have a very impressive Web presence when they first came online. While this might look antiquated and amateur to us now, in the 1990's this was considered quite groundbreaking. 

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Disney

disney
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Disney.com came online in 1996; if you compare this site to the current Disney site the design differences are astonishing. It's amazing how far Web technology has come in just a few short years. 

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AOL Search

aol search
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

AOL Search arrived on the Web in 1999, one of the Web's most popular destinations at the time. Millions of people used AOL Internet, utilizing the free AOL install discs that came in the mail. 

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Apple

Apple
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Apple offered "faster geo-ports"back in 1996 that would offer "increasing modem speed to 28.8 Kbps". That speed seems slow now, but in 1996 was considered to be incredibly fast. 

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Ask.com, or AskJeeves.com

ask.com
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Ask.com, or AskJeeves as it was originally known, was introduced to the Web at large in December of 1996. The text on this original page says: "We are currently conducting a beta testing program, which means that the site is likely to have problems which we will attempt to correct as soon as they are identified."

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Blogger

Blogger
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Blogger, now owned by Google, looked very different back in 1999. Blogger is one of the world's most popular free blogging platforms and is used by millions of people all around the world. 

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About.com

About.com
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

This is one of the original About.com pages from 1997, when About was known as the Mining Company.

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Amazon

Amazon
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Amazon has definitely come a long way from this early Web presence circa 1998. This image of Amazon's first home page is from Ghost Sites.

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Yahoo

Yahoo
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Yahoo arrived on the Web in 1996 looking quite different than it does now. Yahoo has consistently kept the title of one of the world's most visited destinations online. 

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Microsoft

Microsoft
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Here's Microsoft's home page as it looked back in 1996. For being one of the world's leading technology companies, this website is not very impressive; however, for 1996 standards, this was a leader in its time. 

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Monster.com

Monster.com
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Monster.com, one of the picks for the Top Ten Best Job Search Engines, was launched onto the Web in or around November of 1996.

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MSN Search, now Bing

MSN Search
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

MSN Search officially landed on the Web December 12, 1998. Since then, it's gone through quite a bit of branding changes and is now Bing

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MTV.com

MTV.com
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

This image of MTV.com from 1996 also included a splash page promo for "Beavis and Butthead Do America" in 1996, some of the music network's most popular characters.

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Slashdot

Slashdot
Most Popular Websites Picture Gallery.

Slashdot actually has not changed that much from its beginnings in 1997-1998, still retaining a utilitarian look and feel. 

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Facebook

facebook

 Officially launched in 2004, Facebook was originally aimed only at social networks in colleges, universities, and high schools; opening up to workplaces and then to the public gradually throughout the rest of the decade. 

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