[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Google in a Box

December 1st, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Microforum Internet Connection advertisement - 1996“The Most Comprehensive Directory of Internet Sites Ever Produced”

18 years ago, a fairly complete index of the entire Internet — circa 1995 — could fit on a single CD-ROM — about 20,000 sites, as the box for Microforum’s Internet Connection ’96 says. [Update: See comments below for a discussion on the number of websites in 1995 and 1996] I ran a website back then, and the Web did indeed feel that small. FTP sites were still a big deal in those days, so that number may include them as well.

Today, some estimates say that the Web alone consists of over one billion websites. Consider storing a simple list of one billion websites URLs. If each URL was about 25 characters long (I’m just making this up as an example), it would take around 25 gigabytes to store the list alone (or about 39 CDs worth). Google stores that list and copies of individual websites for caching. Needless to say, that takes quite a bit more storage room.

So it’s amusing to think back to a time when you might actually buy a professionally mastered and duplicated CD-ROM containing web addresses, many of which were potentially obsolete by the time the disc landed in your hands (I just used Yahoo’s web directory). Now we have Google. Imagine that: using the Internet to index itself.

[ From Internet World – February 1996, p.117]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What year did you create your first website?

See Also: Internet In a Box (RSOTW, 2014)

13 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Google in a Box”

  1. SirFatty Says:

    1996, hosted on MegsInet in Chicago….

  2. Eagles409 Says:

    1997 hosted on AOL (don’t laugh). It was truly awful, when you went to the site it played a MIDI file of the Honeymooners theme song and had links to my favorite sites… that was it.

  3. xyzzy Says:

    My first one was in 1996, hosted by Sonic.net. An old friend and I took an online course in writing HTML 1.0 together our first summer after starting college, and each lesson built towards our “final exam project” of creating a multi-page personal website — just a brief biography, page on our favorite hobby, and links to our favorite sites.

  4. Multimedia Mike Says:

    Created my first website in 1995 when I went to university. I had a tilde username directory off of my university’s domain.

    The following year, I created my first classic game-related website.

  5. Intergalactic Says:

    1998 using a PC running Win97 (yes 97 is not a typo).

    In late 1997 I got a cheap PC assembled in a small local store (I think they vanished a few years later go figure) and it came preloaded with a weird version of Windows 97, it was so cheap I didn’t mind it, and it worked very well (for a couple of years).

    A couple of years later the motherboard fried after a storm, they said it was because the internal modem was plugged to the phone line during the storm, so I dumped it and went to another store (a bigger one) and replaced it with another PC loaded with an original license of Win98SE, a bit more expensive but it lasted for 6 years. Lesson learned.

  6. John Says:

    Early 1997 on Geocities. I was faced with losing some vacation time if I didn’t take it, so I took a 4 day weekend and taught myself HTML on Geocities.

  7. Dar Says:

    I am pretty sure there might have been more than 20,00 websites in 1996.

    There were apparently a million by 1997. Couldn’t have grown 50-fold in one year?

  8. Benj Edwards Says:

    Good point, Dar. According to this site, there were 100,000 websites in 1996. According to this site, there were 257,000 sites in 1996.

    Interestingly, according to that last link, there were only 23,000 sites in 1995. So perhaps the creators of MicroForum Internet Connection ’96 were going by 1995’s site list. 🙂 In fact, I’m sure they were, because this ad appeared in a Feb 1996 issue, and they would have needed many months of lead time to design and press the CD, then submit the artwork of the ad for a future issue.

  9. idisjunction Says:

    I’m on the young side, so I think it was about 1999, when I was in sixth grade. Some friends and I made a website on expage.com (now long since dead).

  10. Alexander Says:

    2001, in my 6th grade computer class. They even put our websites up on a small directory on the school’s domain for us. We spent a few weeks to put together like 3 pages in classic HTML, which was cool. I seem to recall making a page for my pet guinea pig… quality stuff.

  11. Josh Renaud Says:

    My first was a personal website on angelfire.com in 1998.

    But I got the urge to make my own site after helping publish two issues of our high school newspaper online in 1997-98. The paper was meant to publish about 5 issues per semester, but with print costs rising, our adviser needed to save money.

    I tried in vain to find these issues on archive.org. Our high school’s page was within the district’s domain, and I couldn’t find or remember the URL. But a friend of mine kept copies of the files, and I recreated those issues here:


  12. Eagles409 Says:

    It’s interesting to see how few sites there were back then. I had an “internet yellow pages” book that I bought. It was literally a phone book that listed every known website at the time and the URL. I wish I still had it, I threw it out thinking it was worthless (it was) but it would have been fun to see it again.

  13. MARperor Says:

    Feb 2002, I actually started it on a Dreamcast without a keyboard, thus the pages were very sparse & simple. I still maintain the site to this day as it houses all my creative works. http://www.piemerica.org

Leave a Reply