Australia’s early attempts at using the internet to bring it closer to the rest of the world have been preserved in all its daggy, earnest glory.
The National Library of Australia has been keeping tabs on Australian websites since 1996 and has now made the snapshots available to the public in an online web archive.
In Australia’s own version of the Wayback Machine, users can now explore the online archive and its greatest hits in categories including media, politics, technology and history. A user can scroll through webpages and see what was displayed on them at particular points in time.
The first Australian Prime Minister to receive a website was John Howard. This snapshot taken in 1998, when Justin Beiber was four years old, highlights some of the dorky design features of the early internet including awkward fonts, layouts and colours.
Alison Dellit, who was leading National Library’s Trove service, said the archive started collecting the snapshots as part of efforts to protect Australia’s cultural history.
“We go through a period of graphic design — where there’s very heavy features of people’s faces, lots and lots of close-ups, lots of different pictures on the pages — through to a much more modern, clean and linear design,” Dellit told the ABC.
You can see this clearly with this snapshot from The Wiggles’ page. The band have since gone on to become Australia’s biggest entertainment export.