The Internet Era before Facebook : AltaVista, GeoCities, Lycos, Netscape and Other Giants Of Web 1.0!

Once upon a time Internet was ruled by AltaVista, GeoCities, Lycos, Netscape & Other Giants Of Web 1.0, do you even remember them?

The Internet phase before Facebook and Google was dominated by the giants of Web 1.0 like AltaVista, Geocities, Lycos, Netscape to name a few; however with the onset of Yahoo, Facebook and Google these giants seem to have been lost……or are they still there, any idea as to what happened to these giants? In this article we will just take a look at the fate of these giants in the last 20 years of the web history wherein some of the then biggest websites have either merged with the biggest websites of today or have been shut down and some may be still continuing quietly.


Yahoo Inc and styled as Yahoo! was founded in January 1994 and incorporated in March 1995. Globally known for its web portal and its famous Yahoo! Search engine. From 1997 till 1997 Yahoo remained among the top 3 most visited sites. Till the onset of Google, Yahoo was the most successful sites and ultimately it succumbed to Google’s search engine.

Though Yahoo is still in operation with its different services like Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Directory, advertising, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Groups, online mapping and its various other services including the social media website. It seems that the mismanagement over many years led to this state of Yahoo however now company is more focused and in July 2013 Yahoo seems to have surpassed Google on the number of United States visitors to its websites. With Yahoo’s recent acquisitions that includes Tumblr and Flickr, its CEO, Marissa Mayer hope to keep it alive inspite of online onslaught by Facebook and Google.


One of the first search engines used by many Internet users, Alta Vista was developed by Digital Equipment Corporation and was launched in December 1995. AltaVista was one of the first and most successful search engines that was able to locate and deliver any information required by an user hence it became one of the most popular search engines with a large number of indexes and also it boasted of advanced search tools. AltaVista used to process 2.5 million searches a day.

However slowly the search engine succumbed to the competition and the search engine was soon sold to Compaq in 1998 which later merged with Hewlett-Packard in May 2002. In 2003, Overture Services a search engine for online advertising, purchased AltaVista. Overture was in turn purchased by Yahoo in 2003. Yahoo and AltaVista together succumbed to Google, though AltaVista tried to reinvent itself by rolling out a dramatic overhaul of its site and indexing methodology however it could not sustain and was ultimately closed down in July 2013. The main reason for shut down of this giant search engine seems to be its bad management and also its delayed action in introducing innovative search tools due to which it could not withstand the competition from Google.


In 1990 when cloud computing was in its infancy, GeoCities was the goto site to store files. GeoCities began its journey as a Web Hosting service in December 1995. However, this was acquired by Yahoo in 1999 and finally shut down in October 2009. During the initial days whoever wanted to have a webpage for themselves would visit GeoCities however with the introduction of social networking and blogging sites people seemed to have lost their interest for GeoCities.

During the times when GeoCities was introduced it was providing tools to set up a page for the user and each user was provided with 2 Megabytes server space for free of cost however later on this same feature seemed to go against GeoCities as people started to feel the site was ugly and ultimately Yahoo took over GeoCities, however this collaboration did not succeed and ultimately GeoCities was closed by Yahoo in 2009 and the existing GeoCities users were encouraged to upgrade to Yahoo!’s paid Web Hosting service.


There are Internet users who swear by Lycos for good search results. Lycos Inc began its journey in 1994 and is still in operation. Basically it comprises of a network of email, Web hosting, social networking and entertainment websites. In 1998 it took over Tripod and in the next few years  Lycos acquired nearly two dozen internet brands including Gamesville, WhoWhere, Wired Digital which was later on  sold to Wired,, Angelfire, and Raging Bull. In August 2010 as a part of its restructuring Lycos was sold to Ybrant Digital which is an internet marketing company based in India.


If you were a wannabe blogger in 1990s, Angelfire was the place to go. This is an internet service that offers free space for the websites. Originally launched in 1996 it actually began as a medium for Web site building and medical transcription service. Over a period of time the medical transcription service was dumped and the site focused on its Web site hosting. Eventually the site was sold and resold and finally it was bought by Lycos in 1998 which already had acquired

In 2008 Angelfire included blogs and photo gallery building features and it started working separately from Tripod. Angelfire was linked by Lycos to some other company in UK which got shut down however the U.S. counterparts of Angelfire is still active. And in 2010 Angelfire got a major facelift and now it is being promoted as main Web publishing tool by Lycos. Hence this site is still in operation providing the Web Hosting service and is owned by Lycos.


Another of services offering blogging services, Tripod started its journey in 1995 and is still in operation. Tripod started its service initially for the younger generation mainly for the college going students to build personal website. is now a Web hosting service owned by Lycos. In early 2001, Tripod was expanding at the rate of 250,000 new sites per month and hence it reached 6 million registered users up from the count of 1 million users at the time of its acquisition. Tripod is a sort of free service and users need to pay only if they want to avoid the advertisements. Tripod is best suited for expansion of small businesses by creating a professional website.


In 1990, when you installed Win95, you were greeted by the AOL icon. In 1983 it was founded as Control Video Corporation and then in 1991 it was known as America Online and since 2009 it is being known as AOL Inc. AOL is basically an American Multinational Mass Media corporation which is known for developing, growing the websites and also investing in the brands and websites. Presently it is based in New York city and its major business comprises of digital distribution of content, products and services that it offers to consumers, publishers and advertisers.

During mid 1990s America Online was a household name and a sort of introduced the internet to an entire generation. America Online was a dial up ISP. In 2000 AOL merged with Time Warner and since then things went wrong with AOL. Mainly because the Dialup was replaced by broadband internet access which was largely delivered by cable companies. Despite efforts by AOL they could not get into the broadband game. Then in 2006 America Online became AOL Inc. The release of iPhone also made things worst for AOL. Since 2008 AOL is still in operation as an independent company and it owns, Huffington Post, Moviefone, Engadget, TechCrunch, gdgt and Stylelist. AOL dial up still churns the maximum revenue and that is the main thing which gives AOL its recognition.


The first victims of browser wars, Netscape Communications Corporation, an American Computer services company which is a web browser and commonly known as Netscape. It was launched in 1994 by Mosaic Communications and the browser was Mosaic Netscape. With the entry of Netscape the browsing rules were changed drastically as it would directly add features into the browser without consulting the standard committees.

Netscape believed “Net is for everyone” and hence one of its goals was to “level the playing field” among operating systems hence it provided a consistent web browsing experience across them. Netscape kept identical web browser interfaces which enabled users to access and edit their files across any network and any operating system which they use. This act of Netscape was liked by millions of users. However, in the long run Netscape could not stand the competition from Microsoft Internet Explorer and ultimately in 1999 it was acquired by AOL and shortly before its acquisition Netscape created Mozilla Organisation which eventually released its new browser Mozilla Firefox. Netscape as a company is no more since its acquisition by AOL and can be considered to be as good as shut down however Netscape “brand” is still being used by AOL/Time-Warner. As of 28th December 2007 AOL stopped development of Netscape Navigator however till March 2008 it continued supporting the web browser with security updates. Currently, AOL maintains the Netscape website as an Internet Portal, while its usurper, Microsofts Internet Explorer, is not doing good itself.


AOL competitor and another of ISPs, CompuServe was also one the go to service in 1990s. In 1979  CompuServe was the first service which offered electronic mail capabilities and technical support to personal computer users. Till 1998 CompuServe was a known name in many households for its retail ISP that people could dial into, however CompuServe succumbed to competition and was finally acquired by AOL which offered unlimited internet plans at a lower cost as compared to CompuServe. After being acquired by AOL CompuServe finally was shut down in June 2009.

Ask Jeeves 

The site was launched in June 1996 in California and is still in operation. Originally launched as Ask Jeeves search engine this is now known as Ask Jeeves was a language based search engine. Ask Jeeves had a short lived popularity and the personal online service provided by the humorous character “Jeeves” was liked by many people; however Jeeves failed to provide a direct answer and to add to this the various links provided by the site too did not result in any correct answer and hence it seems it was a sort of failure. Nowadays gets added up as a crapware to the Mac OS X Java Installation and this is the main headache for many users.


Launched in December 1995 this was a collection of different websites and services. Its online service offered a variety of content like it was a search engine, an internet portal (which would display news, weather forecast etc), it would serve as web based email, instant messaging service and it could also be used as a homepage by user. In 1999 Excite merged with @Home to form “Excite@Home” however this was one of the most disastrous mergers. In March 2004 Excite Network was acquired by Ask Jeeves however currently it is being operated by Mindspark and owned by IAC Search and Media. Technically Excite is still in operation as a web portal and it also offers Excite Tickets Portal and Excite Education Portal.


Prodigy Communications Corporation was the first consumer online service with user interface as its basic architectural design. It was similar to CompuServe, with a dial up ISP and Prodigy offered its users access to a broad range of networked services which included news, weather, shopping, bulletin boards, games, banking, stocks, travel and a variety of other features.

In 1990 it was the second largest online service provider. During 1994 to 1996 the company shifted from dial up ISP to regular ISP however it succumbed to AOL. In 2000 Prodigy became the exclusive provider to SBC’s 77 million high-speed Internet customers. With the acquisition of AT&T corporation in 2006 by SBC, Prodigy was now a segment of AT&T however in 2011  Prodigy-created webpages were no longer supported by AT&T. As of March 2015 there is no content in the Prodigy site!! however in Mexico the broadband service is called Prodigy Infinitum and it is the main ISP, so we consider that Prodigy is still in operation.

After going through the history of all these famous websites must say that its just a question of time…….a website which is famous today can also become extinct in coming years and users also seem to completely forget it and just continue with popular choice like Facebook or Google, which is flourishing at that time. Maybe one day Facebook will meet a similar fate!

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Maya Kamath
Maya Kamath
Content writer with unending love to pen down my thoughts and views regarding the new technological inventions as well as probe into the current affairs. Feel as if i am free bird who can actually live life at my pace.


  1. Excite, Metacrowler, Angelfire – how romantic it was! My first websites are still on Angelfire… I have being using Netscape (communicator and navigator) only. Now, Firefox, of course!


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