Ye Olde Superhighway

no ick

The year was 1997.  It was my final semester of college.  After 16 years, I was pretty much done with school and just wanted to get the hell out.  For the most part, I had a courseload of cupcake classes that Spring, so I spent a lot of my free time there goofing off.  I spent much of that goofing off time in the computer lab.

At that point in my life, my knowledge of computers didn’t extend much beyond the old Apple IIe’s that were present from the time I was in grade school, through high school, and even the college’s physics lab still had them in 1994!  I had taken a FORTRAN computer flashback fridaylanguage class in the Fall of 1996, and the work I had to do in the computer lab for that class helped make me more familiar with these new-fangled machines that were on the frontier of the World Wide Web.  Prior to 1997, I had never spent a minute of time on the internet… I had seen web addresses start to pop up everywhere in the previous years… in commercials, comic strips, in newspapers… but with no home computer, I’d never been introduced to this fascinating new “information superhighway” I’d been hearing about.

I'll call you back, I'm getting a telegraph message from Granspa!

I’ll call you back, I’m getting a telegraph message from Grandpa!

So with four months to kill and nothing to lose, I spent my free hours on campus taking a trip down the main drags and back alleys of this spiffy new World Wide Web.  And back in 1997, if you were one of the lucky ones who could surf the internet in that day, you probably had today’s Flashback Friday image tickling your peripheral vision as you browsed the Web’s wares….

I still get giddy watching this 15 years later!

I still get giddy watching this 15 years later!

Long before Google Chrome, way before Firefox, and even way back before Internet Explorer gained a foothold in the web browser market, Netscape Navigator was leading the way in getting people onto the superhighway.  I remember very little about the browser itself, and since I wouldn’t get my own computer until October 2002, much of Netscape’s features were long since rotted out of my brain.  But the cool looking animation…. how could you forget that?  The never-ending shower of shooting stars raining down around Netscape’s N logo… it was quite cutting edge for 1997!

Most other computer animations from 1997 were the result of an acid trip.

Most other computer animations from 1997 were the result of an acid trip.

The funny thing about that animation was how it was a good way to tell how fast your connection was running at the time.  When the stars would slow down, you knew the computer was also bogged down, and the insanely long dial-up times of that day would take even insanely longer.  You didn’t need a spinning hourglass or whirlpool icon to let you know you could take a bathroom break while your webpage loads….

So what happened to Netscape?  Well, like with most computer technology that was not developed by Bill Gates, Microsoft happened to it.  If you’re a bit more computer literate than I am, you can probably get a good read on what happened in the Wikipedia entry on Netscape, but in short, by the late 90’s, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had cut way into Netscape’s previous domination of the browser market.. and by late 1998, AOL had bought out Netscape.  Netscape browsers in some shape or form were still released as late as February 2008, but are sadly extinct today…. not that they’d probably have the cool shooting star logo anyway.

Not these kind of "shooting stars"...

Not these kind of “shooting stars”…

Thanks for introducing me to the WWW back in the day, Netscape!  While IE and Firefox have each had me for about 5 years each, neither of them provided the visually pleasing atmosphere you achieved with your state of the art GIF!

How easily entertained we once were....

How easily entertained we once were….


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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14 Responses to Ye Olde Superhighway

  1. pantherbutts says:

    very cool blog, evil.

  2. merbear74 says:

    I was online in 1998 (same email address all these years!) I loved Netscape and I would use it today if I could. So according to my calculations, you are 37…( I am probably wrong, I suck at math.)

  3. I always wondered what happened to Netscape…interesting to hear the changes from your prospective.

    • It’s weird how in technology, one day you can own the world and the next day you’re just a memory. Think of all the internet brand names that have come and gone over the last 15 years, and who knows which ones we rely on now that will vanish within the next few years…

  4. fransiweinstein says:

    I remember how overwhelming it was. Not so long ago either. And just look at us now! Great post.

  5. gentlestitches says:

    Ah took me back. remember it all well! Tomb raider was released in 1996 and me and Lara were running about fighting crocs and saving the worlds icons. Tomb raider was obviously influenced by the Indiana Jones series which Spielberg happily admits were inspired by Carl Barks “Duck Tails”which were a comic long, long before TV. He got his “rolling boulder scene” from a comic which I proudly own. OK I will shuffle off now and have a drink with Grandpa Simpson and fiddle with my DOS console. I LOVED your post.:)

    • Everything can trace its origin back to Donald Duck!

      The only true computer games I got to play, outside of the Nintendo, were the games we had in grade school back in the 80’s…. The Oregon Trail, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Laser Maze…. maybe there’s a future post recalling those quaint children’s games!

      • gentlestitches says:

        Very true! Comics have had a profound influence on all aspects of Literature and the Arts.

  6. pishnguyen says:

    Ah … Netscape and the “Macarena Baby”. I’m not sure if I feel pleasantly nostalgic or just really, really OLD. 😀

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