So much of our lives are now spent online that it’s easy to forget the internet was once a strange and bewildering place.
Even public figures who now tweet as naturally as they breathe had to start somewhere — and it turns out that was often in a cheesy 1990s photocall, which treated computers like something that had just fallen from the moon.
Some, like Michael Jackson, died before the internet became the dominant force in our culture. Others, like Rupert Murdoch, now own large chunks of it.
These bewildering photos have been dredged up by Business Insider from old press archives that still refer to “cyberspace, “the worldwide web” and spell internet with a capital letter.
Most photos show tech ventures now completely obsolete, websites that faded without a trace, and companies laid low in the dot-com crash. Others showcase impressively enduring corners of the internet.
Steven Spielberg, June 1995.
Hollywood legend Spielberg gesticulates next to a computer terminal at a press event for STARBRIGHT World, a project to give children in hospitals access to the internet. The charity kept going until 2002, when it merged with another group to form the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which still exists.
Newt Gingrich, June 1995.
US House speaker Newt Gingrich, Senate majority leader Bob Dole, and a man dressed as Benjamin Franklin pose next to computer monitors at the launch of TownHall.com, a conservative political news site that’s still alive today.
Michael Jackson, August 1995.
Jackson types away at a laptop during his first online chat session, held at the US Museum of Television and Radio, in which he answered a series of pre-selected questions.