Time travel is a hobby of mine. More specifically, time travel back to the 90s internet, a happy place where people made webpages about things they liked. Anyone who was on the internet back then was legitimately stoked that this amazing new way of sharing information and connecting with people existed, and the enthusiasm showed, even through the remarkably consistent crappiness of early web design.
I actually find the aesthetic somewhat endearing - there’s an innocence and honesty to it that modern web design lacks. Seemingly every business website has the exact same layout now, and it seems the slicker the design gets, the less we focus on actual content.
I’ll be posting individual links to some sites later on for more in-depth review - I plan on making “90s U2 websites appreciation” an ongoing project here. In the mean time, if you want to take up time traveling yourself…
HOW TO TIME TRAVEL: JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Hi welcome to my guide about how to time travel. Did you know time travel is not only possible, but also easy and fun? What if I told you that you already own a time machine? There are in fact several ways to go back in time, right from the comfort of your own room!
To travel into the past, we’ll be using something called the World Wide Web. You probably just call it “the internet” or “the thing I look at on a screen for 14 hours a day.” In fact the internet as we know it really didn’t get started until some dude named Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1990. What did it look like back then? Was there really an internet before #Twitter? Let’s find out!!
There are a few different ways you can go back in time. Here are the ways to do it:
- geocities.ws, a searchable Geocities archive. Geocities was one of the most prominent free web hosting communities of the 90s and early 2000s. In 2009, Yahoo! made a mistake even worse than Yahoo! Answers and decided to take down all of Geocities. Luckily, there are heroic men and women out there who have done everything they can to salvage this important piece of internet history and mirror the content on the web today. There are several different Geocities mirrors - Reocities, Oocities, a 641.32 GB torrent from the Archive Team - but geocities.ws seems to be the only one searchable by keywords.
- Google search limited by site:angelfire.com or site:tripod.com. Both were popular free web hosting services of the 90s that are still available today, but no longer used for new content - so searching these domains will bring up relics of the early web.
- Google search limited by date range from 1991 to 2003. This one isn’t 100% accurate - I’m not sure how Google determines the date a website was created or last updated, but however they do it is not foolproof - but the majority of results will in fact be from that time range.
Of course there’s also the Wayback Machine, but that requires that you have a specific URL in mind beforehand. The methods listed above are more akin to what we used to call “surfing the web.”
Once you have found a 90s website, you can then find several others using the handy webring navigation that will almost certainly be toward the bottom of the page. Most websites also have a links section, which can direct you to such helpful other sites as “Big Butt Nancy’s Tombstone Site” and “Look up U2 on Infoseek.” While you will at times encounter broken links, it is nothing to be upset about as about half the links on the internet in the 1990s were broken anyway.
This should be all you need to know about time travel. Give it a try yourself, and be on the lookout for more posts honoring early U2 websites :)