FUN FRIDAY: Web surfing in the 20th century

It seems like we can’t get enough nostalgia on Fridays here at The Solid Signal Blog. We all remember the web being “so cool” when we first got on it, but the web’s own history betrays it.

Business Insider has put together a slide show of then-and-nows of some of your favorite web sites. Hate to tell you this… they’re not as cool as you remember. In fact, some of them are just a little embarrassing.

One of those that holds up fairly well is the New York Times site from 1996. Not surprisingly, its drawn-from-the-actual paper look is sincere, informative, and surprisingly content-rich considering that it was meant to be seen using a dial-up connection.

We were lucky enough to get an interview with a New York Times insider who was there when the page you see above (and the very first nyt.com page) went live. He said,

There were really no robust HTML production tools in the mid 90’s, and no ability to use custom fonts on web pages, so the New York Times producers built those pages using Quark Xpress templates and real fonts. They then saved them as EPS files and converted them to GIFs using one of the first “soft RIPs” Adobe developed. The producers then hand-coded links from the headlines to the full story. These image files were surprisingly compact; they downloaded fairly quickly even on 2400 bps dial-up connections.

How Times have changed!

Don’t just take our word for it… click here to see the whole slideshow.