Web Sites Through History


In the great sweep of history, the Internet is a recent invention. Below, some riches we might have enjoyed had the Web booted up a little earlier. (1961)

The #1 fan page for everyone’s favorite Beatle. Trade gossip on who Pete’s been kissing in Liverpool. View pics of the drummer and his loyal mates gigging at the Cavern Club. Read Pete’s online diary. This week’s post: “How I’ll Spend My Millions Once the Beatles Hit the Big Time.” (1931)

Brought to you by the vaunted French military, this site documents the operation of the most imposing defensive perimeter in Europe. Stretching from Switzerland in the south to the impenetrable Ardennes in the north, the Maginot Line means big guns, long tunnels, and the kind of national security France has never known. In case of attack, you can watch on our webcam as the Germans charge right toward it. (1881)

A must for disappointed office seekers. Host Charles Guiteau’s site includes a chat room about small-bore weaponry and links to presidential travel schedules. “This site’s a winner!” —Vice President Chester A. Arthur. (1871)

A peek into the world of Emily Dickinson, America’s most reclusive poet. Watch Emily shuffle around her bedroom. See Emily talk through the door to visitors. Watch Emily shake uncontrollably as she opens party invitations. (1861)

The world’s newest nation, the Confederate States of America, kicks things off cyber-style with its official homepage. Click on “Stars” for bios of folks like Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun. Click on “Bars” for laws against miscegenation. Visit “Mason-Dixon Lines,” our party-joke section. And remember—nothing secedes like success! (1683)

The world’s biggest online slave-trading community. Be first to market with your sugarcane! After looking over the cost of the human beings, enter your user ID and password, then click the “Place Bid” button. (Shipping not included.) (1212)

The Catholic Church and Pope Innocent III invite you to join something we’d call a jihad, if the word weren’t already taken by the other side. Through streaming video, site users can follow Stephen of Cloyes and 30,000 devoted children as they depart Marseilles and head to Palestine to face down hordes of well-armed Muslim soldiers. Most spectacular will be Stephen’s parting of the Mediterranean, which will knock months off the kids’ journey and be great for collecting shells. With the Holy Sepulchre back in hand, it’s ice cream for everyone. (1900 B.C.)

The Web site for adult survivors of attempted childhood sacrifice. An online support group for anyone who knows what it’s like to have your dad drag you up a mountain, hold a dagger to your heart, and nearly kill you to appease an angry god. (We also speak Mayan.) (12,000 B.C.)