Web Nostalgia of the Day: excite.com

Current excite.com homepage.

Back when Internet Explorer and Netscape were duking it out, so were search sites like Excite, Lycos, and Altavista.  I remember much debate over which search site was the best.  Of course I always preferred the one that ranked my Helen Hunt website the highest at the time.  Ha ha!

Search sites were truly awful back then.  If you don’t believe me, head over to the current Excite.com website and search for anything you might search for today.  Excite has updated their search algorithms as much as they’ve updated their homepage in the last 10 years is seems.

1999 Excite homepage from archive.org.

Of course in addition to searching, Excite was a mish-mash of all sorts of information and services.  I used to have an Excite e-mail address, custom Excite homepage, and even used good old Excite Chat, also known as Virtual Places (VP).

VP was basically just a chat program that used webpages as the chat rooms.  They had a bunch of specific Excite Super Chat pages with themed backgrounds for whatever your interest happened to be (though any URL on the internet could be a chatroom).  And upon entering any of these rooms you were thrown into the jungle of random immaturity, heated arguments, and suggestive (or sometimes just plain explicit) chatting.  I suppose the internet hasn’t changed much in that regard.

The part that makes it memorable for me though are all the little avatars folks would use.  Tiny little images there were about half the size of a postage stamp that you could create and little speech bubbles would pop out of them as you chatted.  You could move them around the screen.  Usually to harass other users as you changed your avatar to something like “LOSER” with an arrow pointing at the avatar next to you.  Then watch as they try to move away from you.

Of course Excite.com was a casualty of the “Dot Com Bust”.  And once Google picked up steam, I know I for one left those old search engines behind and never looked back.  But it’s interesting to look back and see how the online landscape has changed in such a short amount of time.  Then we all pretty much consumed content that was created and placed in front of us.  And now-a-days it’s all about user generated stuff like YouTube and Facebook.  Stuff like the dancing baby and fart soundboards are relegated to e-mail forwards and internet obscurity.

But don’t forget those simpler times.  When sites like Excite had EVERYTHING you’d EVER need!

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Posted on December 15, 2009, in Nostalgiariffic, Tech. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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