Nowadays, the web is completely different from the first versions of web pages. We browse popular sites, but never think about their first days, when they’re just a small page under construction, and nobody knows about them. Today, I’ll show you how popular websites looked when they launched based on the web archive and screenshots quality. If I can’t find a clear capture in the first months, I used the best capture after launching.
I used the Alexa Top 20 websites, some of them never allowed the web archive to access their servers, so they’ve missed a great moment to share their starting with people. But most of the websites have screenshots for the first days when they launched.
As you can see, this is the Google’s home page in 1998, I’ve found other screenshots from 1996 but with very low quality, this one is clear and reflect the real homepage at that time.
Google was a small company that runs powerful server and working hard to be the number one search engine. They’ve innovated things and completely changed others, I can’t imagine the web without Google. If you take a look at the last decade, you will find that the launch of Adsense by Google changed the way that website owners and bloggers work.
For now, they’re blocking the web archive to take captures for their website. But, I’ve found this one when Facebook was launched in 2004.
This is how YouTube looked in Apr 2005, the first capture for the home page. As you can see, it was like a dating site, but with Videos and more options at that time. After years, YouTube becomes the number one Video sharing platform, and the Giant social network that people forget that it’s social.
Yahoo was launched in 1994, but this is the best quality capture that I’ve found for the homepage. Yahoo looked like a directory with a search box, I think it was their biggest mistake to close their eyes to what happens and limit themselves to that Directory that no one still using.
Wikipedia still faith to the simple web pages rich with information and detail. They have resisted until now, without using advertising. The home page is not completely modified since years, they may take a look at the layout to suit the web development and what people love with the time.
Normally Baidu, the biggest Chinese search engine is the 5th in this list. But, I’ve never found a single capture for their homepage, they block any access to their archive.
QQ is second most visited Portal in China, they started in 1998.
Most of us know Amazon and eBay as the most visited marketplaces and shopping websites in the world. But, forget that Taobao is the most visited marketplace in the world, Taobao is the 10 website in the Alexa ranking, which is twice the size of Amazon. This screenshot is dated from the year 2003.
I couldn’t find a clear capture for the first years of the Amazon launch, but this one is the best I’ve found in the year 2006
This is how Live.com looked as in 1999.
This is the 15 most visited website in the world according to Alexa traffic ranking. This is how Sina looked as in the year 2000.
This is the only view for Twitter when they started their website.
This is WordPress.org in 2003.
These are the biggest 20 sites in the world. Some of them don’t have a history for their lunch and home pages, I followed the Alexa ranking but without counting sites without screenshots.