25 Remarkable Internet Trends Before 2005

Posted by , Updated on March 23, 2024

Individuals born in the current era are unlikely to understand what existence was like prior to the advent of the internet. Some individuals perusing this write-up may not recall the era before the universality of internet access and mobile phones. The evolution of the web and prevailing internet trends have drastically reshaped our lifestyles, including the type of media we engage with and our mode of consumption, personal interactions, shopping habits, and even the conduct of election campaigns. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, not everyone had an online presence, and the internet was characterised by more chaos and freedom (with a greater emphasis on text and fewer graphics).

Gather ’round children, and let me tell you a tale. A tale of when the internet was wild and free and Hamsters Danced. To educate you about how far we’ve come or just make you reminisce about the dial up days of yore, here’s a list of 25 Noteworthy And Remarkable Internet Trends From Before 2005.



Back in the day (pre 2000), nearly everyone who was on the internet had a geocities site. It was a free service that basically gave you a bank page to fill with all the HTML your little fingers could type.

geocitiesSource: webtrends.about.com Image Source: secretlondon123 via Flickr

The pre-Google search engine AltaVista was where you went online to find stuff in the mid to late 90's. It was launched in 1995, and if you were born that year or after, you may have never heard of it.

altavista-logoSource: webtrends.about.com Image Source: logonoid.com

Numa Numa kid was one of the first viral videos ever. Did you know you wanted to see a chubby kid singing Romanian Boy-band songs? No, you probably didn't, and without the internet we never would have seen it. Thank you, internet.

gary_brolsmaSource: www.gurl.com Image source: en.wikipedia.org

Neopets were kind of like Tamagotchis in that they were digital pets, but web based. Neopets was also one of the early versions of social networking online. You signed up, you got a pet, you took care of them, and you could purchase things for them and make friends in game. The website is still there, still running.

neopets_logoSource: webtrends.about.com Image Source: wikimedia.org

Hotmail was one of the first places people could, and did, make terrible screen name choices, often involving the number 69 or variation there of. Sure, there were many of people who used hotmail for responsible non-creeper emailing, but those are the people who signed up for gmail back when someone still had to send you an invite to do so. It's name was a reference to HTML - HoTMaiL. Hotmail officially became upgraded to Outlook in 2013.

hotmailSource: pewinternet.org Image Source: mynetx via Flickr

Livejournal (or Deadjournal) was where your angsty teen poetry and Star Trek fan fiction went to find solace with other lost souls on the internet who's parents, "just didn't get them." The first major blogging sites ever to gain traction on the internet, not everyone on LJ was an angsty goth kid (pre-emo), but enough were, and the edgiest had deadjournals.

livejournal-iconSource: gurl.com Image Source: iconarchive.com

Napster was the very first peer to peer file sharing network. What it would do was let your friend upload a file, say, a Metallica CD they just bought, share that file with you, and then TADA, you had the new music without paying for it. This was the beginning of internet piracy.

naps_logo_black_alpha_kopieSource: webtrends.about.com Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Baby Cha cha, also known as Dancing Baby and Creepy Dancing Baby was another very early viral video, and also a really early example of 3D animation. When it premiered in 1996, it was a new and impressive piece of animation. It became truly famous in 1998 when it danced on Ally McBeal's desk.

dancingbabySource: pewinternet.org Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

The very first e-card was sent in 1994, and through the early 2000's they were still very popular. Sometimes an interactive greeting or simply your greeting with a small animated graphic, ecards are, as the name suggests, all electronic. All the credit for a real birthday card, none of the cost or effort. Blue Mountain was one of the first and most popular e-greeting card sites and is still active, just not nearly as popular as it once was. They did, however, give us someecards, so there's that. It used to be exciting and meaningful to get email. Now it's exciting and meaningful to get corporeal mail.

genericecardSource: wikipedia.org Image Source: youtube.com

ICQ was launched in 1996 and was the first major chat client that allowed things such as multi user chat rooms and file transfers. When you signed up, you were assigned a number instead of picking a screen name as with other services such as AIM, YahooMessenger, or MSN Messenger. In 2001, at it's most popular, ICQ had over 100 million registered users.

icqlogoSource: mashable.com Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Netscape Navigator was the first web browser many of us used. Launched in 1994, Netscape was arguably the most used browser of the 90's, predating even Internet Explorer. It was officially defunct as of 2008.

netscape_iconSource: anandtech.com Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy 25 Ways The Internet Has Changed The World For Better Or For Worse.


Strongbad is a character from homestarrrunner.com created in 2001. Strongbad starred in a series of videos about him checking his email, and in one such video, a viewer asked Strongbad how to draw a dragon, and Trogdor the Burninator was born. He was very popular, as was Homestar Runner as a whole. The site went on hiatus for four years starting in 2010, and came back in 2014, but there's just something magical about vintage Strongbad. The other most iconic Strongbad video was titled "Strongbad Techno," and if you like electronic music at all is absolutely worth a watch.

homestarrunnerSource: wikipedia.org, Image Source: J4yx0r via Flickr

Starting in 1996, a woman named Jenni rigged her home with webcams, and proceeded to have her life broadcast live, online, for the next seven years. At one point, JenniCam had 4 million daily viewers.

jennicamSource: smosh.com Image Source: digg.com

Up until 1999, Amazon only sold books, and it looked a lot different than it does now. Founded in 1994, Amazon surpassed Walmart as the largest retailer in the US in 2015, but those of us online in the late 90's knew it as a place to buy books.

amazon-shipmentsSource: Wikipedia.org Image Source: Public.resource.org via Flickr

Back when the internet was young, you paid for it by the hour or minute. Not amount of data used but the amount of time spent connected via your dial up modem. AOL used to give out disks of anywhere from 25-1000 free hours of internet, but you had to sign on through AOL.

aol_promotional_cdsSource: reddit.com Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

New Grounds was founded in 1995 and was the place to find flash based games you could play in computer lab at school. This was amazing and new because you didn't have to download anything to play these small games; you could just play them directly from a website. Newgrounds.com is still around, just not as popular as it once was. Still, it should be acknowledged as an important part of early online gaming culture.

newgroundsSource: reddit.com Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Published in 2003, Badgers is a flash animation cartoon of badgers dancing, along with a really annoying stick in your head song. Occasionally, the repetition of "badger badger badger" is interrupted by "Mushroom mushroom" or "Snake, it's a snaaaaaake" but that's it, That's the internet Badger song, and there have been dozens of versions made over the years.

badgernomushroomSource: wikipedia.org Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

End of Ze World was a video that first premiered on a site called Albino Blacksheep in 2003. A basic flash animation (it was really neat at the time, I promise), it took a humorous look at our odds of blowing ourselves up via nuclear war. If you've never seen it, it's still oddly relevant some 13 years later (Warning: language and poor french accents).

End of Ze WorldSource: knowyourmeme.com Image Source: birdman12078 via youtube.com

The Hampster Dance was a song; it was a website; it was....one of those things you had to experience to truly appreciate. The entire site was one page full of gifs of small hamsters dancing while the song played. Still, you can listen to the song on youtube and have it stuck in your head for the next decade, too. There was a P added to hamster because somehow hamsterdance.com without the P was already taken when the site was launched in 1998.

dancinghampstersSource: smosh.com Image source: youtube.com

Doom 2 was a first person shooter PC game, released in 1994. The unique thing about this game is that it would let up to four players play together over a LAN (Local Area Netowork), usually meaning computers connected to each other with coaxial cables. These such gaming parties - people sitting around, playing together but each on their own machine - came to be known as LAN parties. Parties would sometimes last several days without planned breaks from playing, just small ones for food and bathroom.

lanpartySource: anandtech.com Image Source: wikipedia.org

Yahoo Chat Rooms were the first chat rooms that many of us ventured into. They covered everything from pop culture, to the LGBT community, to role playing games. Between AIM and Yahoo Chatrooms, we got most of our common internet speak and shorthands, such as LOL, a/s/l ? (age, sex, location) and GR8.

yahoo-messengerSource: reddit.com Image source: methodshop.com via Flickr

AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, was probably the most popular chat service. Launched in 1997, AIM allowed users to create their own screen name, fonts, background colors for their texts, away messages (that could include links and pictures) and an "about me" page that anyone who friended you could click on, which usually contained a link to a live/dead journal. It may sound kind of basic now, but this was the beginning of the "I can chat with my friends all the time" kind of connectedness.

aim_logoSource: Wikipedia.org Image Source: de.wikipedia.org

iMacs were so cool, they had a commercial with Jeff Goldblum (who was also cool) and everything! And they were so small and colorful! This technically wasn't an internet trend but at the same time it really, truly was. Released in 1998, the iMac G3 made Macintosh computers popular with a younger generation.

imac_g3_indigoSource: Gurl.com Image Source: Commons.wikimedia.org

"All Your Base Are Belong To Us" is regarded by many to be the first ever meme. It's a phrase in broken English from the opening sequence of a 1989 video game called "Zero Wing." The ghosts of this meme linger throughout the internet and pop up here and there. Any time you see the phrase "All Your _________ Are Belong To Us," it's referring to this meme.

aybabtuSource: wikipedia.org Image Source: wikipedia.org

A bot that was released in 2000, Smarterchild could be asked questions about anything from your math homework to how to deal with your personal issues. As long as you didn't expect serious - or human - answers.

smarterchildSource: en.wikipedia.org Image Source: via Twitter