HomeTechThe Founder of GeoCities on What Killed the 'Old Internet'

The Founder of GeoCities on What Killed the ‘Old Internet’

In the early years, my sibilant dial-up connection often worked like I was perpetually out of breath. Therefore, unlike my childhood friends, it was almost impossible Killed the ‘Old Internet’ for me to watch videos, TV shows or listen to music.

For all you frowning zoomers out there, here’s a primer. Back in the 1990s, before the birth of modern web hosting household names like GoDaddy and WP Engine, it wasn’t exactly easy or cheap to publish a personal website. This all changed when GeoCities burst onto the scene in 1994.

The company gave anyone their own little space on the web if they wanted, giving users about 2MB of free space to create a website on any topic they wanted.

Millions took up GeoCities’ offer and created their own homemade websites with web counters, flashing text, floating banners, auto-playing sound files, and Comic Sans.

Unlike today’s Wild Wild Internet, the websites in GeoCities were organized into virtual neighborhoods, or communities, built around themes. “HotSprings” was dedicated to health and fitness, while “Area 51” was for sci-fi and fantasy nerds.

There was a bottom-up focus on users and the content they created, a mirror of what the public Internet was like in its infancy. Overall, at least 38 million web pages were created in GeoCities. At one point, it was the third most visited domain online.

Yahoo acquired GeoCities in 1999 for $3.6 billion. The company lived Killed the ‘Old Internet’ on for another decade until Yahoo shut it down in 2009 and took down millions of sites.

It’s been nearly two decades since GeoCities, founded by David Bohnett, made its debut, and there’s no question that the Internet is a very different place than it was then.

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