web / software history

A random list of web or software technology which came and went. Feel free to suggest things I missed or suggest changes to any mistakes.

I'm including links to the wikipedia articles, as I'm unsure how long the official sites will continue to live. Some of the wikipedia article also include screenshots, so worth checking out.

Many thanks to my friends who helped me put this list together!

Note: the dates are mostly approximate. Some services lost their popularity decades before they were officially disconnected.

Microsoft Bob (1995)

A new, non-technical, user interface for the operating system / desktop applications.

Geek Code (1996)

A series of letters and symbols used to self-describe "geeks". People would include these as their signatures on emails or web forums. Mine was:

GCS/S d- s a? C+(++++) UL>++++$ P++>+ L+>++++$ E>++++ W+++ N(++) o+++ K? w--->---- !O !M !V !PS !PE Y+ PGP- !t !5 !X !R tv+(++) b++ DI(+) !D G->-- e* h* !r y?

At Ease (1991-1998)

At Ease was an alternative desktop developed by Apple. It was mostly popular in schools, where it provided ways to control what students could do with the shared computers. At Ease also provided private storage space for each user.

Swatch .beat time (1998)

In 1998, Swatch introduced a new time concept without timezones. It was designed to help coordinate meetings on the internet.

To this date, they are still running the .beat website. They however no longer sell physical watches.

The Palace (1995-2001)

A very popular graphical chat application. Users could chat in "rooms". I believe you had to spend some money to get the ability to customize your room.

Napster (1999-2001)

The first P2P file sharing software which really became popular. The network was mostly focused around mp3 music and was shutdown due to the amount of copyrighted material users were exchanging.

Napster's architecture was built around centralized index servers. This was not the case of the various services which later replaced it.

Microsoft Word Clippy (1997-2003)

Clippy was a gadget included in some versions of Microsoft Word. It was meant to be an intelligent assistant, but turned out to be highly annoying.

The Million Dollar Homepage (2005-2006)

The million dollar homepage was a blank page where the author sold each pixel for $1.

The last pixels were auctioned on eBay and the page generated $1,037,100. The site is still up to this date. Many people copied this very simple advertising idea.

Ogo (2006)

Ogo was a handheld device which gave you unlimited instant messaging for a fixed monthly subscription. It was mostly popular with teenagers in Switzerland and Germany.

Netscape Navigator (1994-2008)

Netscape Navigator helped popularize the web. It was among the first browsers and some of the technologies invented by Netscape are still in use today: SSL (although the underlying protocols have changed), javascript, etc.

Geocities (1994-2009)

Geocities was one the most popular web hosting platform. Sites were grouped by "neighborhood", to make it easier to browser and find content related to user's interests. Back then, there were no search engines to index the web!

Geocities was acquired by Yahoo! in 1999.

ICQ (1996-2010)

ICQ was a very popular chat client. It was one of the first clients to transparently support offline and online chat. It also played very distinctive sounds, whenever a friend came online or sent a message.

The service is still running, but I think its popularity peaked between 2000-2005.

Chumby (2006-2011)

A smart digital clock / photo frame. You could download various widgets and interact using a touch screen. Sony attempted to market a device (the Dash), built on top of the Chumby OS.

Minitel (1978-2012)

The Minitel was a popular online service in France. The technology was similar in some ways to the web: clients would dial-in to services to look-up phone numbers or time tables. Users paid by the minute.

In USA, a similar online service was BBS, which was popular around the same time as the French Minitel.