Travel Back in Time to the Ancient Internet With oldweb.today

By Kaila Hale-Stern on at

Remember the internet of yore? Oldweb.today renders websites in creaky browsers and load times, and will induce nostalgia, flashbacks and cold sweats.

Developers Ilya Kraymer and Dragan Espenschied and media arts foundation Rhizome.org have created oldweb.today, which allows you to experience the internet as it once was. Choose from a selection of “legacy browsers” you’ve tried to block from your memory and a date, and oldweb.today will render the site of your choice in its closest internet Archive version, complete with old-fashioned graphics and attendant loading time.

Travel Back In Time To The Ancient Internet With oldweb.today

Trying to visit 2006 Gizmodo.com in Netscape 3.04 brought up endless JavaScript errors until the browser just gave up; I fared better with IE 4.01, but I’m looking at an eight-minute total load time. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here twitching and losing all of my warm thoughts about the old days, even if Gizmodo’s “the Gadget Weblog” title made me grin.

What’s the point of this time-tripping experiment? Well, a post on Rhizome’s website wants you to think about how much our design and approach to the web has shifted:

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. 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.

Makes you think — and you’ll have plenty of minutes to think while your page renders. So go forth and use oldweb.today and, well, explore the internet. Kids these days might not know how good they have it, but now we can show them what we experienced, in real (slow) loading time. [oldweb.today; Rhizome]


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