[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Google in a Box

Monday, December 1st, 2014

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)

Yahoo News Screenshots from 9/11

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Benj Edwards - World Trade Center September 11th 2001 Yahoo News ScreenshotThe Full Coverage page of Yahoo News on 9/11/2001 at 2:03 PM EDT.

Benj Edwards - World Trade Center September 11th 2001 Yahoo News ScreenshotA special terrorism page of Yahoo news on 9/11/2001 at 2:03 PM EDT.

I took these screenshots of the Yahoo News website ten years ago today — on the afternoon of September 11th, 2001. I had recently driven home from the campus of NC State University, which I attended at the time, and checked online for more details about the attacks.

The headlines seen here, with their blunt assessment of the dramatic and unprecedented events that unfolded earlier that morning, were very hard to mentally grasp. I felt like I was witnessing a scene from a Hollywood disaster movie made horribly real.

That’s why I took these screenshots. I thought I’d never believe myself, in recounting the events of that day, if I didn’t grab some evidence of what it was like to witness it at the time. I’m glad I did. I also filled four VHS tapes with TV news coverage of the event so I could show my future children what it was like. I’m not sure I will be able to summon the courage to watch them for quite some time.