Since the rise of the Internet in the ’90s, the web has shown no signs of slowing down. We’ve watched the birth and evolution of social media, e-commerce and online video entertainment.
It’s hard to imagine that the treasured websites we all use today were at one point just scribbles on a piece of paper, or the brainchild of a 19-year-old college student. With the help of the Wayback Machine, which provides screenshots of any website imaginable from its inception until now, we’re can view the original designs and content of the most visited websites in the world.
While the company’s design doesn’t seem to have changed a whole lot, its services and capabilities sure have. Created by Stanford PhD students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google officially launched Sept. 4, 1998. The interface was so simple because the founders didn’t know HTML and were looking for a quick design.
The video sharing website that brought us hits like “Charlie bit my finger” and “Sneezing panda” first launched in February 2005 with a practically empty interface and no evidence of videos. The first video uploaded to the site was created by one of YouTube’s founders, Jarwid Karim, and was titled “Me at the Zoo.” It was a 19-second clip of him in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo.
Facebook — or should I say Thefacebook — was created by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004. As the original interface indicates, the site was only available for Harvard University students, which eventually expanded to today’s 800 million users across the world. The interface also featured the image of a man’s face in the upper left hand corner, a digitally manipulated photo of Al Pacino.
An acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle,” Yahoo was the product of another Stanford duo, Jerry Yang and David Filo. In March 1995 the site was heralded as the first online navigational guide to the web. The original interface featured a simple search bar and hyperlinks to other websites, but soon became a sleek, personalized news website.
The mecca of online shopping can trace its roots back to 1995, when it was primarily an online bookstore. Jeffrey Bezos named the site after the Amazon River. The original site contained small text and icons, which still informs its most recent design.
This barely recognizable design was the first concept of co-founder Jack Dorsey back in July 2006. It featured the word “Twttr,” which was inspired by Flickr and SMS shortcode (which always includes five characters). Although the interface design has changed at least six times in the last five years, that hasn’t deterred its more than 100 million users.