Yahoo!'s Mama

Yahoo is often considered to be the Web's original directory. While the venerable site was certainly one of the first guides to the web, there were many others that preceded it.

Most of the early web directories were long lists of "what's cool" or "what's new" links created by surfers as they either randomly stumbled across sites, or heard about them via Usenet postings or email from friends. Remember, this was back in the days before search engines. Yahoo's innovation was to organize its links into a categorized directory, making it easy to browse for web sites by subject.

But Yahoo, appearing in 1994, was by no means the first. One of the earliest web subject directories was developed by the people who created the web itself -- and somewhat remarkably, it's still online.

What were some of the prominent web sites in 1992? Bear in mind that there were fewer than 50 web servers in the world at this point, according to Tim Berners-Lee, who created the web.

Familiar names on CERN's subject list include Project Gutenberg, the open archive of online books. The CIA's World Fact Book was online, as were the Bible and Qur'an. The University of Minnesota offered weather information, and various sites featured scientific and technical documents.

Interestingly, a database of song lyrics was also listed, but even this early in the game this neo-Napster had apparently been shuttered due to copyright concerns.

CERN's 1992 subject index of the web is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium as part of its historical documents archive. Though you can still access the page, most of the links are broken. Nonetheless, the page provides a fascinating snapshot of what the web looked like nearly a decade ago, while still in its infancy.

CERN 1992 Web Guide - Information by Subject

One of the web's first subject directories.

W3C Historical Archives

The World-Wide Web Consortium's historical archives, tracing the developing of the World-Wide Web from 1989 through 1997. This is a plain-vanilla directory page organized by year, so it takes a bit of patience to navigate.

Web Archaeology: Yahoo Relics

Do you remember what Yahoo looked like in 1994? Digging into the web reveals several fascinating relics of the service that later morphed into the portal we're familiar with today.

Jerry Yang Announces Yahoo

One of the first Usenet postings by Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, announcing the availability of the service.

The NCSA What's New Archives

The NCSA What's New Page was maintained between June 1993 June 1996.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

Global Internet trends: North America losing dominance...
Cyber India Online Dec 27 2001 2:08PM GMT
Blogdex: Todays hottest web links...
Africa Online Dec 27 2001 12:30PM GMT
Jupiter Media Metrix Changes its Tune on Pop-Ups...
AtNewYork Dec 27 2001 2:46AM GMT
NeuLevel drops lottery for .biz domain names...
IDGNet New Zealand Dec 26 2001 10:04PM GMT
News Focus: End of Excite@Home...
ZDNet Dec 26 2001 8:52PM GMT
Webs news sites gaining virtual ground after Sept. 11...
Chicago Tribune Dec 26 2001 5:06PM GMT
WebMD buys portal assets of Medscape for $10 mln...
iWon Dec 26 2001 2:52PM GMT set to accept Yahoo bid...
Boston Globe Dec 25 2001 5:04PM GMT
Attacks most accessed item on Yahoo...
Japan Today Dec 25 2001 3:32PM GMT
Study: One in four U.S. Web users get religion...
CNN Dec 24 2001 3:48PM GMT
Marketers Use Invisible Words on the Web...
New York Times Dec 24 2001 8:45AM GMT
Domain Application Fee Refunds...
New York Times Dec 24 2001 8:45AM GMT
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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.