Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Websites/Early web history task force

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WikiProject Early Web History
This article, WikiProject Websites/Early web history task force, is within the scope of the Task force on Early Web History, a collaborative effort within WikiProject Websites to improve the coverage of early history of the World Wide Web, and its articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.


The obvious starting point is TimBL's first CERN pages, but I think it makes sense to at least recognize precursor technologies like Gopher, Archie and WAIS. Here's a way cool page (with a modified date of Thu, Nov 26, 1992 7:06:21 AM!). And a URL which, alas, has not been kept alive:

hey, it seems like "the wayback machine" has some old versions of this very page! i remember this resource well. if you look at this link: wayback of whats-new, then click on the very old stuff, archived pages come up! (june 1993!) could be pretty useful, no? Jon Lon Sito 22:01, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
Cool, thanks. I added some info from the archives to List of websites founded before 1995 and to my list of firsts. Someone else should go through them and add their own highlights... Zompist 04:17, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

As for the terminus ante quem... hard to say. The Netscape IPO seems like a reasonable place to start, and then let's see. · rodii · 00:12, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

I guess I'd be broad, at least to start with. If we met someone who (say) had great information on early Usenet, I surely wouldn't turn them away. On the other hand, while Google Groups is around, Usenet is still accessible in a way early websites are not. Zompist 03:55, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

For reference, the Netscape IPO was August 9, 1995. For a formal end, though, I'd just say "through 1995". One practical reason: it's hard enough to date websites to a month— e.g. dates back to August 1995, but what day? FWIW I listed all the New Yorker “Only Connect” sites from 1996, its first year, at User:Zompist/Early Web Info; but many of the sites already existed the year before. Zompist 07:40, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I think it's REAL important to convey that there was a flourishing Internet before 1991, and that the Web did not take off until after Mosaic had been around for a few months. During the first year of Mosaic, the growth of the Web was explosive, but for months there was still a list of all the new websites which had been created each day! At that time, the Web was still not the normal primary way of accessing the Internet. CGMullin 20:55, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

I've mentioned this elsewhere here, but I'd like to repeat that even though there has been an Internet culture before the web, this project should stick with the web because otherwise it would get to large and out-of-control. A History of Internet Culture would be a great separate project, though. Stev0 21:59, 2 March 2006 (UTC)


  • Propose standards for notability for defunct or early websites. Ideally this would be heavily time-weighted: e.g. maybe everything from August 1991 is inherently notable, which only a fraction of things from December 1995. This may end up being more like detective work than like comparing to a nice easy benchmark. Some possible clues to notability:
    • MSM references
    • Prominent placement in early web sites already established as notable guides, e.g. the NCSA Mosaic What's New page
    • Firsts (and maybe seconds and thirds) of any kind: first comedy site, first "X of the Day" site, first personal web page, first e-commerce app...
    • Traffic per day reports, compared to some baseline of web traffic over time. That is, it's pretty easy to find someone saying "I get 6000 unique page hits a day now!" We look it up in our timeline and see if that's a lot for its day, or a little.
      • Factoid from a 1995 book I've got on web design: the number of Web servers increased 10,000% between June 1993 and Dec. 1994. In mid-1995, there were two to five million websites. (Edit: rather, web documents.)
      • More from this book here: User:Zompist/Early Web Info Zompist 04:49, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
I still have my lynx bookmarks file, last modified 1 April 1995. Any interest in that? (I know, it's probably unacceptible as proof of anything, but it's chief importance would be to remind folks what was around back then.) -- llywrch 00:05, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Sure, you could mail it to me (see my user page). Zompist 00:58, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Find or create models for a good encyclopedia article on an early website. In the last few days I've been researching e.g. Mirsky's and the Brunching Shuttlecocks, and struggling with this. Some bits are easy: a description of the content; anything the site did first; outside attention; interviews with site authors. But it's hard to make the material come alive, to become encyclopedic rather than a list of trivia about the site. Zompist 03:55, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
Zompist - that statistic on 2-5 million websites in mid-1995 is interesting... I was reading some contemporaneous statistics the other day which seemed to say that there were about 25,000 sites online in mid-1995, and only about 1 million hosts (connected computers). I'll have to go back and find my source - does the book say how it derived that statistic? KWH 04:57, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
Aha, found it pretty quickly: 1 million hosts 23,500 web sites KWH 05:00, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
Heh, their stat comes right after a mention of Matthew Gray's statistics— which I couldn’t find because the URL they gave was long gone. Great to see it. As for the estimate, all they say is “The estimates of individual documents on the Web range from two million to five million; URLs are constantly being created, removed, and changed. As a result, it’s difficult to judge how accurate any estimate of Web files might be.” I think the key here is that they’re counting documents— presumably, individual pages and images— while Gray is counting websites, which he defines as anything with the same subdomain and domain (e.g. Zompist 05:37, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Free Association[edit]

Hey, why don't you give this a try? Name 5 things that you remember when you think about your Early experiences on the Web.

Project page - have some fun with it[edit]

I tried to just throw in some colored tables and such to give this page a little bit more of a "permanent" feel to it, but I still think it sucks. Anyone have any skills at layout/design on these sorts of pages? Do you know anyone? I think it might be a neat idea if we could somehow have the design evoke bits and pieces of the early web (e.g. big 3d borders on table cells, perhaps some of the classic bitmaps which were used on just about every website for bullet points). Any other ideas? KWH 08:08, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I like the colors, but the ultra-clean standard Wikipedia sans-serif font will make it hard to get that clunky 1994 look. :) Here's an image that might be useful— the original WWW logo. I think there's some magic way to make the image available in en.wikipedia but I don't know how. Zompist 08:41, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, if you want that 1994 look it's got to be plain vanilla H1 and H2 headers, wall to wall text, lots of horizontal rules... you could use CSS to restyle every element back to the default, but euuugh. There's a reason we moved on. :) As for the image... I don't think I've ever seen that one before. Weird. · rodii · 17:16, 26 February 2006 (UTC)


How about rooting through old versions of the Jargon File? I bet one could dredge a few relevant goodies out of there. I also pulled the following out of an old edition of John Baez's "This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics":

There are many ways to access these preprint archives, since Ginsparg has kept up very well with the times - indeed, so much better than I that I'm afraid to go into any details for fear of making a fool of myself. The dernier cri, I suppose, is to access the archives using the World-Wide Web, which is conveniently done by opening the document
If this makes no sense to you, my first and very urgent piece of advice is to learn about the World-Wide Web (WWW), Mosaic, and the like, since they are wonderful and very simple to use!

Originally distributed via Usenet in December 1994, this document is now available (of course) on the Web. I don't know how to verify this, but the article on Baez claims that "This Week's Finds" is one of the key ancestors of the blog. Anville 10:13, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

project page[edit]

I took a stab at some fancy formatting... PLEASE give me positive or negative feedback, hopefully some ideas because I am not a great web designer. Thanks, KWH 06:07, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Web firsts[edit]

This might become an article. It will duplicate information from List of websites founded before 1995, but the organization is by feature rather than chronological. Consider yourselves challenged by this list to find earlier examples. (Things available by gopher/ftp should probably be a separate list.) Private servers should probably not be listed. Zompist 18:47, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Note - I made it chronological, even though it wasn't advertised as such, because as is it was an unuseful random list. Stev0 15:31, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
  • First website - CERN ( - publically available February 1991 (was running internally since December 1990) -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First web catalog - CERN Virtual Library - August 1991
  • First e-zine - VOICE mentioned as of August 1991 (little info available so far)
  • First North American web server - SLAC - December 1991
  • First .gov website - Fermilab (fnal) June 1992
  • First library with a web-accessible catalog - Technical Library of Denmark - July 1992 -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First .com website - Netcraft existed by late 1992
  • First website with integrated graphics - probably something at NCSA, 1992
  • First newspaper with a website - The MIT Tech, though generally a mediocre newspaper content and reporting-wise, claims to have been the first on the web (May 1993, so they say). Anville 09:45, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
  • First book about the Web (well, one whole chapter of it) - The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog, by Ed Krol (1992) -- JFG 20:27, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First Wiki-like project - Principia Cybernetica, July 1993; first use of "Wiki" was WikiWikiWeb, Mar 1995
  • Was that ever more than vaporware? -- llywrch 02:32, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes-- [1]]
  • Note that with the original WorldWideWeb browser/editor, all sites could be edited like a wiki (and without learning any markup). The whole site including WWW documentation was written collaboratively in this way. -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First personal web server - Don Geddis, by Nov 1993
  • I'm sure or one of the national labs (, jpl), or the US census maybe was long before  ·  rodii  ·  20:55, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
  • D'oh! Looked back at that CERN snapshot; only .gov site was Fermilab. The date comes from Fermilab's website history. Los Alamos was April 1993. Zompist 21:23, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Beats out The Amazing FishCam Sep 1994
  • First spidering search engine - World Wide Web Worm, JumpStation, RBSE existed by Dec 1993
  • First webcomic - Doctor Fun - ?? 1993
  • First online museum exhibit - the Vatican exhibit of Dead Sea scrolls (1993) -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First online maps - Xerox PARC map viewer (1993) by Steve Putz. This site generated GIF world maps on the fly from a vector database, amazing for demos on Viola or XMosaic -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First searchable web catalog - Einet Galaxy, Jan 1994
  • First personal blog/journal - Justin Hall, "Justin's Links from the Underground ", Jan 1994
  • Before anyone says Jorn Barger, there have been online web diaries before his; he just coined the phrase Weblog.
  • Absolutely--see Blog. The canonical "first blog" is, but Blog cites some precursors. And check back through the history for the "Vigdor" controversy. I'm not sure when kibo started but...?
  • Google returns posts signed by Kibo as early as 1988. However, I'd consider the first blogger to be jwz, although he created all of his entries the hard way with raw HTML. --llywrch 02:32, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Online diary lists Bryon Sutherland's site, started Apr 1995, but Justin (see Blog) seems to have priority... for now. Zompist 21:55, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
  • First e-commerce site - Internet Shopping Network?, April 1994
  • I definitely remember demoing this as one of the first e-commerce sites, along with a flower delivery site whose name escapes me now (perhaps 1-800-Flowers?). To my knowledge, ISN was the first SSL-enabled site. -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First erotica/porn site - Femmes Femmes Femmes Je Vous Aime at CNAM?
  • I remember downloading a daily picture from there. Just found a floppy I saved those files onto -- date stamps between 24 July & 14 August 1994. -- llywrch 02:32, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
  • First site of the day site - Cool Site of the Day, Aug 1994
  • First Random URL Generator - URoulette (announced here [2], currently here: [3]), August 1994
  • First negative catalog - The WWW Useless Pages, Dec 1994
  • First professional newspaper with a website - Nando times? (1994)
  • First online museum - the WebLouvre (1994) by Nicolas Pioch, was later torpedoed by the real Louvre who didn't have their own site -- an interesting case of licensing issues pertaining to works of art -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First in France: Pariscope (July 1995) -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First online bank - First Virtual Holdings (1995?) -- JFG 20:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
  • First banner ads - HotWired, 1994
  • First political site - The Netizen existed by May 1996; surely we can find better
  • First webcam focusing on a person - Jennicam, Apr 1996
  • First TV show fansite - ? (I'm betting it was for Star Trek)

Combing through comp.infosystems.www and subgroups turns up all kind of itneresting stuff: see here for the first post (1993).


I'm starting a list here of people who were significant to the early development of the web--this might be a category down the road but for now it's just a scratchpad.

  1. Tim Berners-Lee
  2. Marc Andreessen
  3. Lou Montulli
  4. Eric Bina
  5. Jon Mittelhauser — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:21, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  6. James H. Clark
  7. Jamie Zawinski
  8. Justin Hall
  9. Carl Malamud
  10. Brendan Kehoe
  11. Brewster Kahle
  12. Dale Dougherty
  13. Tim O'Reilly
  14. Brian Behlendorf
  15. Carl Steadman
  16. Halsey Minor
  17. Louis Rossetto
  18. Pei Wei--creator of the ViolaWWW browser, a popular browser prior to Mosaic
  19. David Filo
  20. Jerry Yang
  21. Glenn Davis
  22. Ted Nelson (This one is debatable - while he coined the term hypertext, he really did not do anything to help create the web and has been critical of its current state)
  23. Mitchell Kapor
  24. Adam Curry
  25. Steve Mann
  26. Nicola Pellow--creator of the Line Mode Browser
  27. Dave Raggett--mentioned below

A lot of these guys are getting pretty close to the 1995 horizon. The magic years of 1993 and 1994 are harder to remember. · rodii · 00:23, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Weren't Dan Connolly and Dave Raggett heavily involved in drafting the early versions of the HTML spec? I'm sure there are many other contributors who did not make your list. You should browse the www-talk archives from 91-94 (see This will give you a good idea as to who the main contributors were. BSR May 29, 2006.

It's not "my" list--feel free to add to it. · rodii · 16:35, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
I add two more... mabdul 23:28, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Other Technologies[edit]

Something to keep in mind is that the Web formed out of a set of competing technologies, including Gopher, WAIS, Archie, and Veronica (computer). The web came to dominate the field after the NCSA Mosaic GUI browser came out, but the richness of the various competing technologies from the timeframe should be noted. Georgewilliamherbert 21:16, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Deleted content from project page[edit]

Reposting this here so it doesn't get lost. Original author was User:

Netcom,This company sent out FREE discs with it's browser "NetCruiser" and Internet connection phone numbers in the L.A. area in 1995.It required minimum,IBM-compatible PC with a 386 or greater processor
9600-baud modem or greater Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS 5.0 (or greater) or Windows 95 4 Mbytes of RAM Price was $19.95 a month. was an "underground" FREE web site host/online editor in 1995.


So, what's the status of this project? Stev0 18:29, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Someone forgot to list it on the WikiProjects page. I'll do that now. Ashibaka tock 03:54, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

By the way, here's a slightly informative and extremely entertaining site about the early Web: Ashibaka tock

Rewriting World Wide Web[edit]

Hi folks! As I was a witness of the early Web years, I just joined your project and added a few "firsts" from the top of my memory. You may be interested in contributing to my recent major rewrite proposal for the World Wide Web article which is currently a shameful mess. This article needs some love: come and submit your ideas! -- JFG 23:01, 24 April 2006 (UTC)


i apologize -- i am not sure how to put up sites for consideration. so i am doing it here. i suggest "The OTIS Project" (presently known as SITO). it is possibly the first online gallery, especially open to the public for free submission of artwork to be posted. i am one of the original founders. it started in january 1993, and soonafter moved to SunSITE where it became available on the web. (i am still researching an exact date, but i know it was before november 1993.) we have been on the web solid ever since, plugging away. Jon Lon Sito 21:57, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Suggestion: Scott's Page of Evil[edit]

I remember this website from when I first got on the net, back in 94. Sadly, it's long gone, but I recall laughing my head off at it. I'd love to see it again. There were tirades against everything from Andie MacDowell and cameras to the French and Christianity. Plus there was this really cool graphic called the DevilNixon.

Active websites by founding date[edit]

This is maybe encyclopedia quality:

User:Ashibaka/Websites Ashibaka tock 03:53, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

For the Early Web History project we've been focussing on sites that date before 1995— after that there start to be millions of sites, and we need a higher standard of notability. One suggestion for your list: dates should be documented. The Wikipedia article may provide a date, or the website itself if it's still current. For the QQ in your list, for instance, the Wikipedia article suggests a starting date of 1999, not 1995, and CNET offers no date at all. Zompist 04:29, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm using the whois data when it's not easy to find the information. Your point about is good, the domain might have been purchased from some other company. Ashibaka tock 05:04, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Internet Portal[edit]

I've just created Portal:Internet, please contribute! Computerjoe's talk 16:23, 4 June 2006 (UTC)


I added wikilinks above for Ed Krol, The Whole Internet Guide (in Web firsts), and ViolaWWW (in People) - Classicfilms 17:14, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Also slightly modified the note about Ted Nelson with wikilink -Classicfilms 17:22, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Project directory[edit]

Hello. The WikiProject Council has recently updated the Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Directory. This new directory includes a variety of categories and subcategories which will, with luck, potentially draw new members to the projects who are interested in those specific subjects. Please review the directory and make any changes to the entries for your project that you see fit. There is also a directory of portals, at User:B2T2/Portal, listing all the existing portals. Feel free to add any of them to the portals or comments section of your entries in the directory. The three columns regarding assessment, peer review, and collaboration are included in the directory for both the use of the projects themselves and for that of others. Having such departments will allow a project to more quickly and easily identify its most important articles and its articles in greatest need of improvement. If you have not already done so, please consider whether your project would benefit from having departments which deal in these matters. It is my hope that all the changes to the directory can be finished by the first of next month. Please feel free to make any changes you see fit to the entries for your project before then. If you should have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you. B2T2 00:03, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia Day Awards[edit]

Hello, all. It was initially my hope to try to have this done as part of Esperanza's proposal for an appreciation week to end on Wikipedia Day, January 15. However, several people have once again proposed the entirety of Esperanza for deletion, so that might not work. It was the intention of the Appreciation Week proposal to set aside a given time when the various individuals who have made significant, valuable contributions to the encyclopedia would be recognized and honored. I believe that, with some effort, this could still be done. My proposal is to, with luck, try to organize the various WikiProjects and other entities of wikipedia to take part in a larger celebrartion of its contributors to take place in January, probably beginning January 15, 2007. I have created yet another new subpage for myself (a weakness of mine, I'm afraid) at User talk:Badbilltucker/Appreciation Week where I would greatly appreciate any indications from the members of this project as to whether and how they might be willing and/or able to assist in recognizing the contributions of our editors. Thank you for your attention. Badbilltucker 17:47, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Interview with Robert Cailliau[edit]

Hi everyone,

we are preparing an interview at Wikinews with Robert Cailliau, all insightful questions are most welcome here: Wikinews:Story preparation/Interview with Robert Cailliau.

--Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 15:32, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Request for comment on Biographies of living people[edit]

Hello Wikiproject! Currently there is a discussion which will decide whether wikipedia will delete 49,000 articles about a living person without references, here:

Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Biographies of living people

Since biographies of living people covers so many topics, nearly all wikiproject topics will be effected.

The two opposing positions which have the most support is:

  1. supports the deletion of unreferenced articles about a living person, User:Jehochman
  2. opposes the deletion of unreferenced articles about a living person, except in limited circumstances, User:Collect

Comments are welcome. Keep in mind that by default, editor's comments are hidden. Simply press edit next to the section to add your comment.

Please keep in mind that at this point, it seems that editors support deleting unreferenced article if they are not sourced, so your project may want to pursue the projects below.

Tools to help your project with unreferenced Biographies of living people[edit]

List of cleanup articles for your project

If you don't already have this and are interested in creating a list of articles which need cleanup for your wikiproject see: Cleanup listings A list of examples is here

Moving unreferenced blp articles to a special "incubation pages"

If you are interested in moving unreferenced blp articles to a special "incubation page", contact me, User talk:Ikip

Watchlisting all unreferenced articles

If you are interested in watchlisting all of the unreferenced articles once you install Cleanup_listings, contact me, User talk:Ikip

Ikip 02:07, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

Dave Raggett[edit]

Smallman12q and I created an article about Dave at User:Smallman12q/Dave Raggett. If somebody want to help, feel free ;) mabdul 23:26, 26 September 2010 (UTC)