These 1996 Screenshots Show How Much the Internet Has Changed

These 1996 Screenshots Show How Much the Internet Has Changed

  • A report from Morgan Stanley analysts in 1996 predicted the prevalence of the internet. 
  • It said a person of intermediate web literacy was anyone who simply knew their own email address.
  • From clip art to Comic Sans, screenshots show how different the internet looks 25 years later.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Morgan Stanley tech analysts Mary Meeker and Chris DePuy knew the world was on the cusp of something big in 1996. They drafted a 323-page report expressing their high hopes for the internet, saying it could be “one of the hottest new markets to develop in years.”

Looking back on the report now shows just how far the internet has come in 25 years.  

For starters, the report shows how rare some now-common internet activities were in the past. Among 150 million estimated PC users around the globe, the authors estimated 23% had used email for work, 6% had used the web, and 5% had used an online service. 

“We feel that e-mail, online/Web access may be ubiquitous for PC users within a decade,” the authors wrote. “At a minimum, e-mail should become pervasive. So should Internet/Web access: E-mail is the ‘killer application’ of the Internet today, and browsing through information services the ‘killer app’ of tomorrow.”

Another marker of the web’s progress came from the authors’ guide to the report for audiences of varying levels of internet literacy. 

Meeker and DePuy defined a novice reader of the report as someone who had “never heard of Motley Fool, CNET, or Yahoo.” An intermediate audience was just anyone who “knows [their] own email address.”  

Take a glimpse at the internet of yesteryear with these screenshots of websites from 25 years ago.



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