Weird History Here's How History's Biggest Websites Evolved Over The Last Decade  

Rachel Souerbry
1.3k views 14 items

It's amazing how much can change in just a few years; internet trends move so quickly that it's easy to forget how young the web really is. The evolution of website design can be clearly seen in past iterations of popular sites, as some of the biggest companies in the world started off with comically basic homepages. 

How websites have changed over the years is a direct reflection on the corresponding companies' values, products, and business savvy. While the gradual evolution of popular websites like Facebook and Google might seem imperceptible to people who use them everyday, when one compares these sites' modern layouts to those that came before, it's remarkably easy to see how far digital standards have come. 

Apple is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Here's How History's Biggest Websites Evolved Over The Last Decade
Photo:  Internet Archive/Apple

Back Then:

Apple introduced its first successful computer, the Apple II, in 1977. While super primitive versions of their website have been reported as far back as 1992, the official Apple Online Store was launched on November 10, 1997. Early versions of the site were little more than collections of images, and users couldn't search for specific pages, as websites could not feature text boxes for people to type in. 


Today, the push is on for ever-smaller products. With new technology like the Apple Watch and yearly updates to the iPhone line, there is a whole new range of gadgets to shop for on Apple's website. The site has advanced with the company, and the modern search bar allows users to peruse purchasable products, store locations, and troubleshooting FAQs all from a single place. The company has seen major financial success as well. In July 2018, it hit a $1 trillion market cap, making it the first publicly traded company to do so. 

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Facebook is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Here's How History's Biggest Websites Evolved Over The Last Decade
Photo:  Internet Archive/Facebook

Back Then:

Created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Thefacebook began as a college-exclusive social networking site. Initially, the site was only for Zuckerberg's fellow students at Harvard University, but in the following years he expanded it to include other colleges and high schools. By 2007, Facebook was available to anyone with an email address, and included features like classified ads and the ability to send friends gifts. 


Facebook has added many new features to improve the user's experience, from being able to "hate" and "love" posts as well as "like" them, to expanding the Messenger app to allow people to text and call each other over WiFi. The old classified ads are now a full-blown shopping feature, where people can sell things in a manner that resembles Craigslist or OfferUp. The main focus of the site is now connecting people around the world, and many other sites allow users to log in using their Facebook account. 

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eBay is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Here's How History's Biggest Websites Evolved Over The Last Decade
Photo:  Internet Archive/eBay

Back Then:

The online bidding site eBay was founded in 1995 by San Jose resident Pierre Omidyar. The site was originally called AuctionWeb, and began with the goal of "bringing together buyers and sellers in an honest and open marketplace." In September of 1997, the site was officially renamed eBay, and in the decade that followed, the company expanded worldwide, to the point that the site was worth $7.7 billion in early 2008. 


The basic premise of eBay has not changed; it's still a bidding site where people can sell things to each other. However the site now sports a much sleeker look, and the categories have become noticeably more navigable. Now, buyers can shop for anything they can dream up, and users have the option of buying new items directly from companies, rather than from other users.

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Google is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Here's How History's Biggest Websites Evolved Over The Last Decade
Photo:  Internet Archive/Google

Back Then:

Google has been around since 1998, and it quickly expanded to become a multi-focus company that served many of its customers' needs. By the end of 1998, Google's search engine had indexed roughly 60 million pages, and it was one of the first services to rank search results based on "links and judgements made by other respected sites." By 2004, Google had launched Gmail, with Google Maps coming in 2005, and Google Chrome in 2008. 


Google has continued to introduce new features like Google+ and Google Drive, and passed the 1 billion unique visitors mark in 2011. They are still a world leader in the search engine category, and have increased their use of fun, topical "doodles" on the homepage. As of 2016, the search engine indexes 130 trillion web pages, and refreshes billions of times every month. 

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