While doing a thorough spring cleaning and sorting to our office cabinets, we found this interesting, revealing article from September 1996 issue of “MacUser”. On the cover the magazine advertises the fastest Mac or PC ever, 225 MHZ PowerTower Pro. To give some context, today computers are built in the range of several GHz.
On page 99, MacUser shows easy steps to create an “Instant Home Page” with basic proportional images (that would not break the layout structure) and text information. The article mentions Adobe PageMill 1.0 as the most popular Mac website creation tool of the time and that PageMill 1.0 was not capable of using tables for layout or for image maps. Over the last decade there’s been a movement towards table-free layouts and instead utilizing CSS for layout and styling, so it’s almost hard to recount a time when using tables for a layout was something new and technically advanced.
The key elements of a web page were already there in 1996: According to the article, the key content areas of a Web page are “info that let visitors to get to know you, links to other Web sites, and a way to contact you via e-mail”. The magazine also recommends a visitor counter as a “fancy twist” which does not sound like a bad idea at all considering how much emphasis is put today on “invisible” visitor traffic tracking metrics tools.
Web page development started in 1994 so by 1996 the user could already display images to the web page making them a great deal more visual. On the other hand, navigation for instance remained HTML link based and button shapes were available but made very little use of until a year later in 1997.
1996 may have felt a big step from the very early ages of World Wide Web back in 1994 when very few people were aware of this emerging technology and communication platform. Here is a popular YouTube video of NBC news team discussing Web terminology back in 1994. The terminology is new and the Internet is still something abstract and rather geeky sounding.