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From Apple and Amazon to Myspace and AOL, here are some of the earliest website designs for some of the tech industry's biggest companies.
A trip down memory lane
In many ways, a website serves as most companies' digital fingerprint. While some corporate websites are merely gateways to buy and learn about new products (i.e. Apple), others may entirely define what a company is (i.e. Facebook). That said, it's always fun to take a trip back in time and explore what the digital fingerprints of yore looked like. Here are what some of the earliest tech company websites looked like when they first launched.
The earliest incarnation of Apple's website was unearthed earlier this month. Sporting a distinctly early 90s web design aesthetic, this snapshot of Apple's homepage was likely from sometime during the 1994-1995 timeframe.
Originally launched on September 4, 1998, Google's homepage hasn't changed all that drastically over the years. The search giant still prefers a minimalist aesthetic for its homepage, and if anything, the page has gotten simpler over the years. What has gotten exponentially larger, however, is the number pages in Google's search index.
When the first iteration of Facebook launched on February 4, 2004, few likely predicted that the website would go on to fundamentally change the way the world communicates and interacts.
The first version of the site, back when it was called The Facebook, was a Harvard-only site. Eventually, though, the site would open up to other Ivy League schools before expanding to other universities, and finally to the world at large. Interestingly, the original home page retains many of the design elements that currently exist on the present site. As a point of interest, legend has it that the man in the upper left is a composite and altered photo of Al Pacino.
And while we're on the topic of social networks, we'd be remiss if we didn't highlight Myspace. Indeed, it's funny to think that there was a time when Myspace was the social network of choice. But due to a series of horrible strategic decisions, not to mention the advent of Facebook, Myspace died a quick and painful death in the mid-2000s. This is what it looked like back when it launched in 2003.
The Amazon homepage has always been busy, and even the first version of the online retailer's website was no different. The first version of amazon.com was a tremendously barebones affair and just screams bad 90s web design.
On a related note, we previously explained how the Amazon name was chosen, if you're up for a little bit of history.
This humble video-sharing site launched in February 2005 and immediately became a sensation. Today, YouTube is one of the more popular websites on the entire planet. Without question, YouTube has played an instrumental part in pop culture and, more broadly, the way news is transmitted and digested by the masses.
Yahoo of course predated Google and actually served as most people's first introduction to searching the web. Yahoo was launched in March 1995, just as AOL was bringing the Internet to a national audience. More of a directory than a search engine, the original Yahoo page was whimsical in nature and befitting of what the company name supposedly stands for — "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle."
It's hard to believe that Twitter's first website goes all the way back to 2006. While the fundamental functionality behind the site has remained more or less the same, the website has undoubtedly come a long way.
It's only fitting to include AOL here. After all, for many users, AOL's dialup service was the introduction to the Internet in the first place. While AOL is no longer the universal gateway to the web that it once was, it undoubtedly played an integral role in getting people online back in the mid-90s.
Emerging Leaders 2018