Browse the First Web Page Using the First Web Browser

Chris Higgins via
Chris Higgins via / Chris Higgins via

The World Wide Web turns 25 this year. What better way to celebrate than to browse it like they used to? (Note: browsing that actual page using that actual NeXT computer might be slow and/or frustrating. Just like it was 30 years ago!)

Using a system called Netcapsule you can do a very remarkable thing: browse an old website (stored in an archive) using an old browser (running in an emulator...running in your browser). If you tried to do something similar on your own, it would take a lot more effort than a few clicks, but hey, people on the internet are awesome.

When you start linking up web archives and old browsers, you get exciting results. It's now much easier for a regular user to experience some of what "the old web" was like. For example, what did the mental_floss home page look like in December 2004? What did it feel like, using Internet Explorer 5 on a Mac running Mac OS 9? (That was actually something you might still have been doing in 2004, despite the availability of Mac OS X...the latter was kinda slow early on, and remained that way for years.) So here's the mental_floss homepage, rendered on period-appropriate (ish) hardware/software:

And here's a look at the site from late 2007, when it featured a blog. Hey, look at that! By this time, the old browser isn't quite appropriate, but hey, it mostly still works.

Enjoy and see what you can find. (I recommend checking out from 2001 using Internet Explorer 5.5 on Windows...or just hit the "I'm Feeling Random" button and maybe you'll end up reading about "Datenbanken" in German.)