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5 websites that once ruled the web

Once we couldn't live without these net brands

The internet generation is stunningly disloyal. Brands mean very little to us and we switch online services without a second thought. We take a look at five websites that, once upon a time, we simply couldn't live without, but now are either no longer with us, or have perhaps seen better days.

5. AltaVista

It's hard to believe that there are young people reading this who might never have used AltaVista. In the late 1990s it was the only search engine worth using. This was when finding stuff online took actual skill. You might think you're clever using the likes of operators in your Google search, but back then it was all about crafting the perfect search phrase. If you didn't get the results you wanted you phrased your search query differently and had another try. Eventually you'd find what you were interested in. Probably.

It's also hard to believe that, back then, not all search engines indexed the entire web. They kept the exact figures under wraps, but some search engines were more knowledgeable than others. AltaVista was arguably the best of all, and this inspired confidence in its users.

It's probably obvious what appeared on the horizon and eventually brought carnage: Google. I'm a very faithful person and wasn't about to give up on AltaVista, but I remember the first few times I used Google, sometime around 2000. In comparison to AltaVista, Google seemed to have a second sense of what I was looking for.

Backing up my decision to move was the fact that AltaVista had become a web portal, in an attempt to keep up with Yahoo, which was dominant at the time. Just like modern-day Google, one of AltaVista's strongest points had always been its simplicity and uncluttered interface. In fact, Google pretty much copied AltaVista's old look and feel in those early days, something that's remained broadly unchanged on the Google home page up until this day.

See also: The 52 best websites you've never heard of

  1. We couldn't live without these sites
  2. MySpace
  3. Hotmail
  4. Slashdot
  5. AltaVista

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