What did people do before there was the internet? Well, they … uhm… well there was tv and board games. You had to do stuff using pen (as opposed to an ink-cartridge) and paper. And I think you physically went to a store to buy stuff. But seriously, the World Wide Web (does anyone call it that nowadays?) is only some 15 years old. It was in 1990 that the first browser and webserver saw the light by the hand of this guy called Tim Berners-Lee. So you could say he was the first web developer. But that’s just the prehistory. We’re living in 2005 right now. What was it like for web developers like say in 1995? The web was alive and kicking for 5 years then. Or was it? Let’s have a look at june 1995.
Present day 2005
The web is spreading ideas like wildfire. Everyone’s blogging and thanks to RSS everyone is informed in about 10 minutes. They’ll blog about it, spread their RSS and more people put stuff on the web. That sounds like a virus to me and viruses are bad, aren’t they?
But that’s the state of the current web. Now back to the T-Ford days. When you could have a site as long as its background was grey… (That was the default background color)
So what if you lived in 1995? What was the web like back then? Not much compared to today.
What was big? Well, it was a G7 topic and the international press had to be informed what this web-thing was.
Browsers? Not IE. Version 1.0 of the infamous Internet Explorer was released in August 1995. And it was nothing more of a souped-up version of Spyglass Mosaic. In fact there were a lot of browsers around. But I think, don’t have any statistics to prove, Netscape was a rising star (version 1 or 2). So browser wars? Not really.
What did they support? Not much… framesets were the king and so were tables. IF supported! CSS? That was ‘invented’ in 1996. Only to be really supported in 2000. Scripting? I don’t know. DOM? Are you kidding?!?!?!
HTML editors? Well, Dreamweaver wasn’t there. I don’t think Microsoft was interested that early, so no FrontPage. In fact I think there was only NotePad and some derivates. WYSIWYG was a promise. It still is.
Graphics? Photoshop was in version 3. But I don’t think it supported any web fomat. Not untill version 5 that Photoshop shipped with a kind of ‘web export’. Besides there wasn’t a whole lot of support of GIF or, shudder to think, JPeg. In fact you had to know the different GIF formats just like that.
Color space? I have some 256 wonderfull ‘web-safe’ colors you can choose from.
Resolution? Ooh I wonder if I can afford a bright new and shining VGA 640×480 pixel scanline color-monitor. Damn, than I’ll take that CGA monitor instead.
Search engines? Not that I know of.
Multimedia? Errrrr… nope.
So what was working back then? Hyperlinks, or just plain links. What you basically had was a gray background. Put some text on it. Make hyperlinks to a following page. And that link was underlined blue. When visited it turned purple. You could use some images, provided they were encoded right and supported. But no aligning and that sort of brave stuff.
Actually it wasn’t that different from now. Sure, the packaging has improved a lot. But we’re still basically using the same stuff that Timothy invented. So what did we improve upon during the last decade of WebDev? Basically nothing, just rehashing the same ol’ wine.
BTW: If you hear anyone claiming they were involved in WebDev before 1995. They are full of it. Or they have some serious explaining to do. Just like people claiming they’ve been using Firefox for years (Released November 2004, before that its name was Firebird). 🙂