The Revolutionised Web: Back In The Day

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Remembering A Time Before Google

My love of all things digital started in the 1990’s, the day’s of dial-up modem’s and Netscape Navigator, the day’s before Google!

Growing up in an era before smartphones, but old enough to get to grips with modern technology as it became available. Software and gaming giants Atari, Commodore and Sinclair were the day’s modern tech. The idea of a 128-bit gaming platform made by a electronics company such as a Sony seemed a lifetime away but 1994 this became a reality and signalled the end of an era as far as home gaming systems were concerned.

Back then Internet usage in the UK was around 9% at the time as opposed to 93% it is today. Netscape was the dominant browser in the mid-90’s with a massive 90% of the market – it’s the company credited with creating Javascript which is still the most widely used scripting language in use today. But by 2002 it was gone.

Lycos was the major search engine of the time, Excite, Altavista and Ask Jeeves were also popular choices, but no Google – It hadn’t even been invented yet. Technology has moved on leaps and bounds, and it’s evolving all the time. In the early days before social media, promoting a website involved banner exchanges (blinking banner ads exchanged across websites), backlink exchanges and a lot of ‘black hat’ SEO techniques, and keyword manipulation to trick the search engines into ranking the websites in higher positions.

Freeserve and Home Internet

In 1998 Freeserve was launched in the UK, they were part owned by Dixons and Dial-up CD Roms were shipped with the new PCs. They were also given out at the front of the stores, enabling home internet access for the masses. All you needed was a PC with a modem, and a telephone line and you could connect to the World Wide Web. I was hooked from the off, spending most of my time in chat rooms speaking to people across the globe. Website designs of the time were mainly text based, with flashing banners, blinking text and a colour palette of 256 colours.

Microsoft Website in 1997

Netscape released Composer in 1997 which enabled everyone to create their own website. They joined the ranks with Angelfire, Members Tripod and other ‘community websites’ which were a bit like an early social media platform where you could post your own content and upload images to your ‘web space’.

Search Engines: The Birth of Google

Lycos Search Engine of old

A search engine called Lycos started in 1994 and by 1999 it was the most visited search engine with a global reach in over 40 countries. It was one of the most popular sites on the internet, ranking 8th in 1997 and peaking 4th in 1999 and again in 2001.

Google was launched during these years in 1998, and within 5 years we’re establishing themselves as one of the worlds largest media companies, launching several product’s such as Gmail, Chrome Browser and it’s suite of marketing tools and vast advertising network. It’s hard to imagine a life without Google as they play such an important part in our everyday lives and the way we use technology.

What’s in a Name

The following is taken from Business Insider, read the full article here.

The name “Google” actually came from a graduate student at Stanford named Sean Anderson, Koller writes. Anderson suggested the word “googolplex” during a brainstorming session, and Page countered with the shorter “googol”. Googol is the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes, while googolplex is 1 followed by a googol zeros.

Anderson checked to see if that domain name was taken, but accidentally searched for “google.com” instead of “googol.com”. Page liked that name even better, and registered the domain name for Brin and himself on September 15, 1997.

How Google looked in 1998