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Dublin: 2°C Monday 29 November 2021

Want to browse the web exactly like it was back in the 90s? Now you can

A lot has changed in 20 years.

Thankfully you don't need the same equipment (or fashion) to relive your experiences on the information superhighway.
Thankfully you don't need the same equipment (or fashion) to relive your experiences on the information superhighway.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE WEB WAS a very different place back in the 90s.

Visiting the likes of Yahoo, Google or a Geocities site was an experience that felt otherworldly at the time, one that lacked all the fancy additions we now see today, and the feeling that you could check up almost anything was amazing.

The web has moved on since then, but those of you yearning for a return to those days can relive the experience through oldweb.today, a site that recreates the experience of visiting archived sites using old browsers like Netscape and Internet Explorer.

All you have to do is type in the site address, choose a date and it will bring up an archived version of the site closest to that date.

giphy Source: Giphy

The site itself was created by a developer named Ilya Kreymer alongside media arts foundation Rhizome.

The site emulates legacy computers – allowing old software to run on new computers – so you can operate the old browser within your browser.

Yahoo Yahoo was one of the biggest search engines back in 1996, before Google came along. Source: Oldweb.today

“Today’s web browsers want to be invisible, merging with the visual environment of the desktop in an effort to convince users to treat ‘the cloud’ as just an extension of their hard drive,” said Rhizome in a post. “In the 1990s, browser design took nearly the opposite approach, using iconography associated with travel to convey the feeling of going on a journey”.

Netscape Navigator, which used a ship’s helm as its logo, made a very direct link with the nautical origins of the prefix cyber-, while Internet Explorer’s logo promised to take the user around the whole globe. This imagery reinforced the idea that the web was a very different kind of space from the “real world,” one where the usual laws and taxes shouldn’t apply.

RTE RTE's main site back in 1996. Source: Oldweb.today

You can use other legacy browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox on Mac and Linux if you want. It’s an accurate depiction of the old web, that is it’s slow, tough to use and not visually appealing.

This is the closest you’ll get to recreating the web experience of old, unless you managed to get your hands on an old PC.

Or if you want a more authentic experience, you could just listen to the sounds of the old dial-up connection instead.

Source: willterminus/YouTube

Read: This smartphone’s big selling point is you can clean it with soap >

Read: You won’t truly get virtual reality until you try it out properly >

About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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