Antiquities: 1999 Internet in 20 screenshots

    We do not know how to store data. No, we can do a little on behalf of a single user. As employees of the company, we can also, in the form of backups, reservations and other things. But so that at any time it was possible to scroll through the digital time machine about twenty years ago - we do not know how. I already wrote about my own digital archive: it starts in 2002, but there is almost no information about the first decade of my digital life. Is that Spectrum games on cassettes .

    I do not claim that it is necessary to keep everything. But in my little computer-electronic hobby, sometimes I want to take a laptop of 1999 release, connect it to the network and see how it was there, on the Internet twenty years ago. It is not easy, although it is possible. Today is a story about how this can be done, and a selection of authentic web screenshots of the end of the second millennium.

    I keep the diary of the collector of old pieces of iron in real time in the Telegram . This article is also published here in a format compatible with most vintage devices.

    In 1999, it was only possible to access the Internet using a modem. A dedicated channel of one and a half megabits is available only to large organizations, well, or very rich people. You can estimate the cost of modem access in the archive of the Zenon provider.

    Such a pain. 1 dollar of 1999 is equivalent to the current one and a half, about a hundred modern rubles per hour of network access. But this is if you just need to see what it is - a worldwide network. If you are an experienced user, take monthly billing plans:

    The most reasonable fare is five o'clock in the afternoon and unlimited (if you call) at night for $ 25. Permanent access to the network will appear later, in 1999, I access the Internet from anywhere and how lucky. Constant connection with the rest of the world is Fidonet - it is free. And the Internet - either staying in a couple of minutes once a day, checking or sending mail, or from someone at work - then you can carefully look at what’s on this network. On the other side of the ocean, the situation is better:

    Hourly access is not cheap, but for about $ 20, the provider America Online offers unlimited. AOL has been noted in the history of incredibly aggressive marketing and an attempt to build its own Internet with poets, only remotely compatible with the present. Free floppy disks (then a CD) give 250 hours of free access, and from there comes the proprietary software that combines the dialer utility, browser, chat ( AOL Instant Messenger , turned off in 2017), mail, and so on. Internet connection is slow, sites are optimized for a typical speed of 28 kilobits per second, and consist mainly of text.

    Yahoo was the first site I visited when I had real access to the network — I had the first email address there. There you can use the search. In October 1999, PC Magazine ranks search engines on the relevance of search results. Yahoo receives "editorial choice".

    Together with Yahoo, the choice of the editorial office is received by two little known now search engines — the catalog — Northern Light (transformed into a B2B service) and HotBot (and this one still works , positions itself as a privacy-oriented search engine).

    In 1999, I often use the now forgotten search engine Altavista. Wikipedia reports that in 1998, Altavista worked on 20 multiprocessor servers with a total memory of 130 gigabytes, with 500 gigabytes of storage. Now you can build a home computer with such a configuration that is relatively inexpensive. Once the leader of the search market, after a series of mergers and acquisitions, he was in the structure of Yahoo, in 2013 was closed. This company was also noted as one of the first online translators of BabelFish.

    A Google search engine in 1999 looked like this. In the PC Magazine review, the results were highly relevant to popular searches, but more specialized search terms were given poorly by Google. I did not specifically begin to scale the archive site: the screens were small, the web too. On Google you could read about the search technology, and also offered to subscribe to the Google Friends mailing list. She was also found in the web archive, and the topics of the letters from the founders of the company there are very nice.

    Awww Let's finish the review of search engines by Yandex:

    Like Google, everything is simple: a search line and a description of the algorithm. The web archive saved a copy of recent searches:

    Yandex and Google will literally be a default search service in a year or two - the first for the Russian language, the second for searching the world wide web. In 1999, their role is not as important as it is now. Information about interesting sites is transmitted by word of mouth, collected in directories, neatly recorded in a notebook or in browser bookmarks. Search is when you want something like that, for example, an abstract. Or erotica.

    The next stop of this unscientific study is the post. I never used Hotmail, although I had an address - then the idea that you were given something for free on the Internet was somehow taken with surprise, and I wanted to take advantage of it, just in case. In 1999, a serious vulnerability was discovered in the service - it was possible to log in to any account using the password “eh”.

    Yahoo's home page gives you an idea of ​​the volume of mailboxes - 250 megabytes for free, two gigabytes for money. In 2004, beta-testing of the GMail service began, which immediately gave one gigabyte of mail for free - and this was a revolution. GMail - my main mail since the launch of the service almost 15 years ago. During this time, there was accumulated just 15 gigabytes of mail - an average of gigabytes per year. in 1999 was just a postal service. Mailbox size - 2 megabytes. Quote: "We consider it sufficient, but if this restriction will embarrass many, we will soon be ready to give it up." Sign of the time: copies of the site pages in different encodings, for compatibility with devices that can only show one.

    Already in the two thousandth year, the development of network services begins - mail merges with search, the forerunners of modern shopping sites appear. In 1999, PC Magazine wrote that two-thirds of users of online stores never switch to payment after choosing goods. Two services were heard and then, and now. Amazon:

    And eBay. E-commerce in 1999 just passes by me - even there is not enough money for Internet access, not to mention shopping. Tell me someone, that in twenty years I will buy goods with delivery from anywhere in the world, I would not have believed it.

    We conclude our trip to the Internet in 1999 with the news:

    If I remember correctly, on the production slang, these small banners from above were called “ears”. On the Ribbon website, integration with free mail, on the right, so that no one is offended, the Yandex banner. Another sign of the nineties: partnership with the provider Mobile Telecom, delivery of news to a pager.

    Ten years ahead

    What does the modern Internet look like on an old device?

    No The Internet Explorer 6 browser installed on my “working” machine with Windows 98 does not support modern encryption protocols. It will not be possible to go directly to the web archive - although the main page opens, but with errors. You can view the old web only on a modern device. As far as I know, there is no any kind of public API at the web archive either. You can not deflate the entire old collection. There are scripts for this., and they even work, but the features of archiving begin to have an effect. When a web archive shows you a page, pictures from it can be picked up from different time eras, or even lost. I have not found a reliable way to automatically create mirrors of old sites for viewing on old devices. Only manual work with source codes for each page.

    Add problems and early technology dynamic generation of web pages on request. If you see a link to a cgi-bin or a script in php / perl in the URL - most likely this page will be saved incorrectly. As I said at the beginning, there are no reliable ways to recreate the network from the past. Although the data itself is still there.

    If we talk about the modern web, even a ten-year-old browser is not able to display it normally. I ran the Ubuntu 8.04 OS image. The standard Firefox 3.0 browser does not swear at https, but it does not know how to use modern layout. Let me remind you that the current version of this browser is 69 65, this comes out 66 62 releases in 10 years. The modern web is different from vintage technology (layout, encryption, advertising) and content (size and quality of images, the widespread use of video, behavior tracking). The 1999 Yahoo home page weighs 129 kilobytes. Modern, as of January 31, 2019 - 5.8 megabytes - 46 times heavier.

    I write and typeset in a notebook

    In general, if you want to make the old Internet for old devices - make it yourself. By the way, how much did hosting cost in 1999?

    An important feature of the hosting of those years is compatibility with Microsoft Frontpage, an ancient tool for creating websites, so that you can immediately start producing pages from it. Zeno had such prices:

    Not cheap, and as I understand it, it was only about shared-hosting. If we compare it with the “Medium” tariff, in 2019 I buy a virtual server for 100 rubles per month (twenty times cheaper), with 5 gigabytes of disk space (256 times more) and a terabyte of traffic per month. In Zeno in 1999, the traffic seemed to be unlimited, but as far as I remember, for quite a long time the owners of the websites of the Runet had to keep a balance between the sent and received data. In foreign advertising, I found a mention of a traffic limit of 4 gigabytes - again, 256 times less than now. On my new VPS I will build a site according to the old standards.

    I installed the Apache web server, and there was such a strange feeling when you no longer need anything for web construction! I still have little success. I filled in the site copy here this post. With the compression of pictures up to 16 colors, I seem to overdo it, it was possible to make 256. I had to study the methods of tabular layout, otherwise on a modern screen with high resolution the text spreads across the whole screen - unreadable. The main thing is to have a background! It is also advisable to add a gif, ticker and visitor counter. To be honest, the attempts to add the old software to business - the third version of Dreamweaver or the same Frontpage, ended in failure. We need to look for some vintage templates for them, and without them, it’s easier to stick in a notebook.

    This is my little first step towards re-creating a compatible network infrastructure with old devices. It's nice that at least the backward compatibility of both the network software and browsers is excellent: my hundred-ruble site works, and compared to the heavy web of 2019, it is incredibly fast (as long as the traffic from Habr of course doesn't put it). My plans, however, are much broader: I still want to alter some modern services in an ancient way, so that you can read mail on the old PDA or in the Windows 95 email client, or you can write some chat. I will tell you about the successes on this front when they will be in the next posts.

    In the comments, I would like to discuss the technology of recreating a working network for old devices. Is it possible to proxy modern sites in the old computer in real time? What technologies will allow to watch modern content on Windows 95? There probably will help mail. Is it possible to broadcast Telegrams to old messengers? How to make websites using technology twenty years ago? Ideas and links to suitable development (well, suddenly) are welcome.

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