Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

June 16, 2007

Is This the World's Oldest Active Web Page?

I went looking for the oldest active Web page the other day and came up with a handful of sites which, because of their age, deserve some kind of lifetime achievement award.

Vigilante Electronics
Vigilante Electronics claims to be "the oldest active web page selling used electronic test equipment," and it might just be true. This plain, cream-colored HTML page eschews clickable e-commerce features. There's just a list, a phone number, and according to the Internet Archive, the layout hasn't changed a bit since 1997. Hey, if it works, don't fix it!

Abigail's Dream
Abigal - whoever she is - maintains a page that, despite copyright notices dating up to 1999, is very old, and its "revolutionary" concept of putting up a dream sequence on a Web page, is even more dated (heck - I'd argue that the whole Internet Economy of 1995-2000 was nothing more than a dream sequence written on a bunch of Web pages). Abigail's Page was apparently reproduced in the book, Official HTML Publishing for Netscape, which makes it seem even older than its 1995 date of origin.

About Temperature
This document, prepared for science teachers, resides on the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and it was last updated in December of 1995. A multimedia tour-de-force (Wow - text AND graphics - now that's a teaching tool), it's a refreshingly simple mix of H1, H2 and H3 tags. Even with global warming, it seems that the principles of temperature haven't changed much in 10 years.

Government Crisis News
Which Government? Well, the Irish Government. Which crisis - well, whichever one the Irish had back in the early 1990's involving John Bruton, Dick Spring, and the Fine Gael Ministries. I think this page is from 1994 (there isn't any indication of the date on the page), but I'd need an authority on Irish Government Crises to verify this claim.

The Internet Classics Archive
Here's a Web page that hasn't aged gracefully. Marred by broken graphics, a misfiring search function, and a raft of Error 404's, the Internet Classics Archive was last updated in 2000, which puts it out of the running in our little contest. Still, it's certainly the oldest looking page in our roundup.

Pinball Expo 1994
Well, I think we may have found our winner. This page (it's a site, actually, with more than one page), which resides undisturbed on the servers of the Lysator Academic Computer Society, went on line in November 1994 and has been serving up increasingly outdated information ever since. Bless the university administrators who decided, against all reason, not to flush the fact from the Web that pinball's joys are eternal.

If you know of an older page than those in the list above, please send me e-mail. I'm always interested in cyber-antiquity, especially it's been a page, or a site, that's been continuously operating for 10 years or more without substantial modification or enhancement. It's amazing how little is left of early Web efforts: the shifting sands of Internet time leave very few bones on the beach.

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