Today marks 20 years since the web became publicly available. To celebrate, why not visit the web’s first page at its original URL?

I put my first page on the web a little over a year-and-a-half later, in December 1994 as a freshman at Mary Washington College, thanks in large part to help from Ernie Ackermann. Mine was the second student web site on the college’s server (John Forrest had #1, if I remember correctly) and before long was challenging the college’s own home page in terms of amount of traffic (hits, pageviews, bandwidth, I don’t remember). The page had a picture of Grover sitting on the toilet.

I took some time today to look around a the oldest saved version of my site, from 1996. Lots of hideous tiled backgrounds, amusing content, and memories are contained therein. Here are a few pages of more general interest:

The web was a very, very different place back then. I remember when all backgrounds were grey (you kids and your gentle CSS gradients, you have no idea how good you have it!), there was no chance you could separate style from content in any meaningful way, cgi-bin was a scary but magical place, BLINK was perfectly acceptable, HTML tags had to be uppercase (and closing tags? HAH!), <b> and <i> weren’t frowned upon, and advice like “upload your files using telnet and ZMODEM” made sense. Shoot, I remember freshman year that it wasn’t clear the web was really going to become something huge and I simultaneously published some content on a gopher site because more people at the school knew about it.

Over the past 18 1/2 years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the web and make a living on it. While the feeling that I had in the mid-90s for the web is completely different from what I feel now, I’m still amazed every day at how the medium has grown and matured. If 1996 hideous-background-tiling me could see the 2013 web, he would be astonished at the beauty, the depth, and the mainstream acceptance it had gained. The web is still an awesome place to be.