15 things of the Internet of the 90 that will never be like before

There are days when you wake up melancholic and you get to remember things from the past. For example, of your adolescence, that if you are more or less of my fifth, I would catch you in the decade of the 90. Some really miss them, like those long summers of school time: three months without worrying absolutely nothing (unless you had left for September, of course). Others, almost prefer not to return, as the shoulder pads.

But what you certainly can not avoid with a smile are the things you found on the Internet at that time, when having it at home was still only a privileged few, and most of it was connected to the computers of the institute or from the cybercafé. neighborhood. For many of us, the 90s witnessed our first connections to the Internet, and that is not easily forgotten.

Your first email address, your first personal web page or the first person who made you tinker in a chat leave a mark, that is inevitable. Therefore, today we are going to review all those mythical elements that characterized the Internet (and everything that surrounded it) in that decade. Can you remember any more?


Raise your hand if you do not have a page in Geocities ! Whether it was to post your poems as a teenager-in love-but-not-corresponded or to talk about the things you liked, almost all of us had a page in one of the “neighborhoods” of Geocities, which were organized by theme : Area 51 for science fiction and fantasy, Hollywood for cinema, Tokyo for things related to the East, Silicon Valley for programming …

All this without forgetting its typical elements like the animated GIF of “in works” and the one of the arroba turning for the email, the guestbook to leave a signature, the backgrounds with psychedelic designs not suitable for epileptics, the tables in HTML by everywhere, and, of course, the visit counter.

High view

Before the arrival of Google, the default search engine for many was Altavista . It was very fast (much more than its competition at that time), and had a simple and minimalist design that made it attractive and easy to use.

After its birth in 1995 it did not take long to grow to 80 million visits a day , two years later. Which is surprising if we take into account that its infrastructure had a total of 130 GB of RAM and 500 GB of hard disk.

Altavista was great, yes, and I personally used it a lot in the late 90s. But soon after Google came and seduced us all …

Ask Jeeves

But Altavista was not the only search engine of the time. Another one that could also be used was Ask Jeeves, which was the original name of ask.com, and whose originality lay in that the searches were not done by keywords, but with questions elaborated in natural language.

These questions could be addressed to Jeeves, a sort of butler representing the seeker and which was based on a character of the same name as PG Woodehouse’s novels. This character ended up disappearing in 2006, but in his time he attracted a lot of attention. It could be something like the ancestor of the current Siri and Cortana.

The Messenger

In the 90s, when you talked about “Messenger”, of course you did not refer to Facebook Messenger. Because at that time the king was the MSN Messenger. What all teenagers used to chat, flirt, and what came up.

MSN Messenger was largely responsible for the popularity of Hotmail, led to a huge market of plug-ins, add-ons and all kinds of extras with which to modify its features or add new features, and became at times a dangerous way to distribute viruses and malware by distributing infected files.

With everything, I would dare to say that most of us keep a fond memory of this program …


Speaking of Messenger: as I said, this chat application had a lot of “blame” in the popularization of Hotmail accounts, since most people became one as a Messenger user. Not in vain, it became the most used webmail service in the world, with more than 30 million active users.

The beginning of the end of Hotmail came in April 2004 with the announcement of the birth of Gmail, which offered more storage space and more speed, and forced Hotmail and other competitors to quickly improve their functions and features. Finally, Hotmail has become Outlook.com.


But Messenger was not the only form of communication we had at that time. There was also the ICQ! The mythical chat client that worked with user numbers instead of names (I still remember mine, in spite of everything) and that I had those so characteristic little sounds. Some sounds, by the way, that you could customize by downloading Internet packs (and yes, there was one from Chiquito de la Calzada).

ICQ is a veteran who is still active, although far from the 100 million registered accounts that reached its peak of activity, in the late 90s. It was also the first instant messaging service conceived as such, with user accounts individual and focused on private conversations between two people. The grandfather of WhatsApp!


ICQ was the first instant messaging client as such, but real-time chat was not something new in itself. The 90s were the golden age of IRC, the chat platform par excellence, with its own universe of channels, servers, arrobas, IRCops, kicks, bans and much more.

Before the arrival of social networks, it was the meeting point for thousands of Internet users to chat, discuss any topic, link (or at least try), or even have meetings with celebrities (organized by Internet access providers). In its best years, in the late 90s and early 2000s, IRC had 10 million users connected simultaneously.

The forums

Another thing, but certainly, communication channels on the Internet in the 90s we had a few. If you did not like the IRC, you did not want to use Messenger or ICQ, you always had the forums. That is not that they have disappeared, of course, but now they have by far the relevance they had before.

The forums were something like the prelude to social networks. Every web (or “portal”, as it was said before) that had its own forum, and was the best place to connect with other users. They had specialized in some specific subject, or simply to leave messages and pass the time.

The forums, like, that IRC, also had its own code : user levels, private messages, rules of use … without forgetting the figure of the moderator, always lurking with a ban in hand in case someone behaved wrong.

Audiogalaxy (and all others)

With the arrival of Internet, the downloads also arrived : music, movies … of course, taking into account the average speed of the connections, you had to have infinite patience. Those were times in which to download a simple MP3 you had to wait several minutes – a time without torrent protocol and without streaming services.

The offer for download programs was wide and varied. Napster, Audiogalaxy, LimeWire or Kazaa are very famous names of those years, although undoubtedly the king was the eMule, around which emerged multiple user communities to share content. The only problem: that you almost had to be an engineer to learn how to configure it correctly …

Infovía and Infovía Plus

It was the gateway to the Internet for many of us in the 90s, and that is why they are remembered with fondness. Infovía was a network developed under TCP / IP protocol, but due to its high cost lasted only three years, from 1995 to 1998.

The next step was Infovia Plus, which was intended to ensure greater security and robustness to the growing number of Internet users. This network had 140 connection nodes spread across the country, and to connect to the Internet, a telephone number had to be called through the modem.

The line was occupied during the entire time of connection, which led to many family dramas : connections cut because someone picks up the phone, parents desperate because they can not call or receive calls, the eternal response of “communicating” when you call someone. ..

Internet Explorer vs. Netscape

The so-called “war of the browsers” did not start with Firefox and Chrome, but much earlier: with Internet Explorer and another browser that the younger ones may not know: Netscape.

But where you see it, Netscape became the most used web browser in the world, with more than 90% market share in the mid-90s. Who took that crown? Effectively, Internet Explorer. Then came Firefox, Chrome and others, and a new battle began in this war.

In fact, the engine on which Firefox (Gecko) is based was the one that originally used Netscape, so you could say that this browser is your ancestor.

The Jennicam

Now with inventions like Twitch, Snapchat or Periscope people are very used to seeing other people recording themselves on video and broadcasting it live. But in the 90s this was not very normal, and that’s why it’s not surprising that Jennifer Ringley gave rise to a great controversy with her Jennicam back in 1996.

Jennicam was basically a webcam that Jennifer, a 19-year-old student, decided to install in her dorm room. The camera was connected to Intenrnet and published an image on a web every 3 minutes, so that anyone with a connection could visit that page and follow Jennifer’s life live.

The “experiment” lasted more than seven years, and in the most successful moments came to receive more than four million views in one day. Its fame was due not only to the original use of technology (it was one of the first webcams to show a private life live on the Internet) but also due to the coincidence with other phenomena that delved into this concept, such as the movie The Truman Show(1998) and the first editions of Big Brother.


Clippy probably does not have to be presented. We all know the infamous Microsoft Office assistant, who appeared as soon as he wrote a few lines in a document with the intention of helping – help that in most cases was not necessary.

Clippy was not the only way that Microsoft’s assistant could adopt, but it was the most popular one. Others were a robot, a caricature of Albert Einstein, another of Shakespeare, a cat or even a puppy dog.

It was included in Microsoft Office between editions 97 and 2003, but despite its disappearance, it is still the subject of jokes, parodies and memes of all kinds,

Electronic postcards

Today we seem a bit tacky, but back in the 90’s electronic postcards were a hit. People sent them to congratulate their relatives, to celebrate a special occasion, to express their feelings … or simply, just because.

The concept of e-card or electronic card itself was born in 1994, and the first website that allowed them to be made was The Electronic Postcard, developed at the MIT Media Lab. Then there would be others such as Awesome Cards and Blue Mountain, which became especially popular thanks to a promotion agreement with Microsoft in Hotmail.

Go, confess, I’m sure you sent some …

The netiquette

Beware, including the netiquette here does not mean that it is something that is no longer used or no longer important. Today it is always appreciated that there is a minimum of education in the use of the Internet, and that they respect such basic things as NOT TO WRITE ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS, BECAUSE YOU ARE SCREAMING. But in general, concepts as basic as smileys or acronyms we have more than learned and overcome.

However, in the 90s there was a lot of emphasis on netiquette, I suppose because of the general lack of experience and training of people when using the Internet, and because it was practically a new language that was used in a new means of communication. On many pages there were sections of netiquette, and it was a section that you could find in brochures and user manuals related to the Internet connection – for example with the documentation of your Internet provider.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *