Celebrating 30 Years of the World Wide Web

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in Blog, Community, Design, Web Development
30 years of the World Wide Web

Earlier this week, the world celebrated #Web30, the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web. Waves of nostalgia flooded cyberspace, accompanied by 8-bit retro graphics and the distinctive sounds of a dial-up modem. It’s hard to imagine that the idea first described simply as an “information management system” could have blossomed into what we know and experience today.

Not only has the World Wide Web greatly expanded person-to-person communication, it has also brought about a new era in visual design. As the Web’s reach expanded, websites developed from simple paper-like pages to incredible multimedia experiences. At first, the changes were simple: more colors, more typography choices. Heck, even adding images that loaded reliably was a novelty at first! Soon users could experience all kinds of sounds and videos, taking the Web from a simple shared resource library to a true entertainment experience. But the true gift of the World Wide Web was that anyone could take part. They could create and share with ease, not just gather and consume.

Road-Tripping Down the Information Superhighway

At this point, the Web has become so large that it’s impossible to see everything it holds. And as websites get more sophisticated, many early websites have been lost to the passage of time. Oh sure, some older websites are still around, but many have either disappeared or developed into something new. That’s where the Web Design Museum comes in.

Though no “museum”, not even a virtual one, could hold all the treasures of the vintage internet, the Web Design Museum has a lot to offer. Over a thousand websites have been meticulously curated, sorted, and archived as a record of the Web That Was. Websites are ordered by timeline, grouped by type, even tagged based on unusual design elements for the times. Looking for an entertainment website from the late ’90s that implemented gradients for the first time? No problem. An early-2000s music website built with iframes? Yep. You can even watch video archives of Flash-based animated websites like the Corpse Bride website.

My, How You’ve Changed

Perhaps my favorite part of the Web Design Museum, though, is seeing the progression of websites we still use today. Cornerstone websites like Google, Netflix, Amazon, and many more are represented here. You can easily click through and see their design evolution from their earliest days through to modern day. Along with design timelines, the museum features various “exhibitions” that feature design milestones like web banners, pixel art, and grunge.

The technology aspect of the World Wide Web gets some love here, too. The Web Design Museum includes a fairly detailed timeline of the software advancements that made the internet what it is today. All browsers, all programming breakthroughs, and a number of notable websites are part of this list. The timeline even includes a shout-out to Adobe PhotoShop, which was created mere months after the launch of the Web. And if your favorite website from the past isn’t among the exhibits, you can contact the museum and ask them to add it!

Worth a “Visit”

As with all things virtual, a trip to the Web Design Museum is as close as your nearest computer or mobile device (because of course it’s mobile friendly!). So the next time you get nostalgic about the good old days of the World Wide Web, visit the museum and reminisce. I’ll even throw in a fun playlist to browse by.

Happy 30th, World Wide Web! Thanks for…well, everything!

Meet the Author

Lisa is one of the co-founders of ThirdSide. She is also a published author with a passion for the written word. Telling other people’s stories well is her main goal.

Her idea of relaxing is trying to make sense out of the mysteries of The X Files and LOST. Maybe someday.

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