The Internet is such an integral part of our everyday lives that it’s often hard to imagine what it was like to live without it—let alone remember what it looked like when we first started using it. But the look and feel of the Internet is constantly changing, and many of the websites that we use every day have undergone some pretty serious makeovers over the years, making many of them nearly unrecognizable from when they were first created.
For a trip down the Internet memory lane, we’ve gathered up images of today’s top 10 websites to see how they looked when they first came out, halfway through their existence, and today.
Here are some of the interesting things that we noticed during this online blast from the past.
Can you even imagine life without Netflix? Before you could binge watch episodes of Friends or watch one of their incredible original television series, Netflix was originally set up as a DVD rental company. On their original website it looks like you could browse through their collection of DVDs (we’re guessing pretty slowly) that you could rent through the mail. In 2008, the website was a bit sleeker and had some nice graphics, but the site still wasn’t as popular as it is today (notice the “How it Works” section). The modern version of Netflix is optimized for any kind of screen and shows their vast collection of titles right from the get go to entice would-be subscribers.
Without Instagram in our lives, how would we know what half the world eats and wears on a daily basis? Introduced in 2011 exclusively for iPhone, the original Instagram website looks pretty primitive (even thought it came out less than 10 years ago). It explained how the photo sharing process works and introduced us to the filter (can you even imagine what life was like before the Hudson filter?). In 2014, the Instagram website was less explanatory and was more of a showcase of some user-uploaded ‘grams—which could then be taken from any kind of phone. The 2018 version of Instagram is vibrant, clear, and gives us a glimpse of what we’re about to see when we join the photo sharing app—interesting, amazingly sharp photographs.
Twitter has undoubtedly made its mark on the world. From news to comedy to tragedy, Twitter is how the world communicates things instantaneously, how we learn about new trends, and how to be funny using a limited amount of characters. In 2006 when Twitter started, it was pretty simple and not very customizable—still obviously trying to figure itself out and its place in the world. In 2012, we were given a few more features, including lists, and we could search by hashtag to see what everyone else in the world was talking about. Today’s Twitter allows you to have more characters (280) and has a more curated version of what you see on your Twitter timeline.
What is modern day life without Amazon? Launched in 1994, the original Amazon website—or earth’s biggest bookseller as it was originally known—looks like someone may have crafted it for fun on a personal computer. In 2006, the website and catalog of items were a bit improved, and the company went from just books to clothing, accessories, electronics, and more (honestly not looking a whole lot different from the Amazon we know and love today). Today’s version of Amazon is so ingrained in the fabric of everyday life—and it’s because of added conveniences like Prime, one-click ordering, and an easy-to-peruse catalog.
Created in 1996, Yahoo was one of the original behemoths of the Internet. It was one of the most powerful search engines in existence (and still technically is, but there’s simply no competition with Google) —but its role has changed slightly over the years. While it was originally a search engine that also had a directory of websites organized in categories, throughout the years it’s shifted more toward a place where people gather news and learn what’s trending in the world.
If we’re being honest, the look and feel of Reddit in 2018 isn’t really all that different from the look and feel of Reddit in 2005 when it was first created. Fancy graphics and sophisticated code aren’t really this quirky community’s strong suit. And although the design of the website is a little underwhelming, the website’s significance simply can’t be ignored—it is, after all, nicknamed “the front page of the Internet.”
Once upon a time in the early 2000s, Wikipedia used to be a place on the Internet your professors would scoff at for citing on a paper. Today, Wikipedia is available in 301 languages and is a fairly trusted source for learning about pretty much anything you could imagine. The original version of Wikipedia in 2001 explains what a collaborative encyclopedia is and gave some sample topics to get you started on your learning journey. Remarkably, even though the website’s role has changed so much throughout its short history, the look and feel of the website is exactly the same when you look at the home page in 2009 and 2018.
Has there ever been a website more addictive than Facebook? Facebook revolutionized the Internet—and made it cool to connect with friends online. Originally launched by Mark Zuckerburg in 2004 as “Thefacebook”, the original website was a far cry from the social media giant it is today. Originally you had to have a college email address to join (specifically Harvard.edu), but it eventually expanded its membership to other colleges, and then finally everyone was allowed to join. Besides expanding its membership, the modern version of Facebook now allows you to share photos, have conversations on “the wall,” and live stream video right from the platform.
YouTube is the best place on the Internet to waste time—whether you want to learn how to fix your dishwasher or watch a video of unlikely animal friendships. Launched in 2006, it introduced us to the concept of “going viral” and browsing thousands of user-uploaded videos from all over the world. Today’s YouTube may look a little different with a sleeker design and a user-friendlier layout, but its content is exactly the same.
We would all probably be lost without Google. Although the design of the Google home page may not be all that different today, its power and influence has certainly grown in our culture. Before its launch in 1998, no one could ever answer a question or figure out a problem by using the simple phrase, “Google it.” Now, we have much of the world’s information right at our fingertips.