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Internet Archives' vintage GIFs take you back to the '90s

The GifCities project lets you relive the web's early days with a staggering collection of animated images. Remember the dancing baby?

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Ed is a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world who enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
Credentials
  • Ed was a member of the CNET crew that won a National Magazine Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors for general excellence online. He's also edited pieces that've nabbed prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists and others.
Edward Moyer
2 min read
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Celebrate the early web! A frame from a '90s-era animated GIF preserved by the GifCities archive.

Ah, those were the days.

That gleam in the eye of Tim Berners-Lee had only recently become the World Wide Web. People were still wrapping their heads around that strange thing called the "hyperlink." And you could still get through every one of your emails.

True, we did have to endure the ear-piercing racket of the modem, and the merciless blinking of the blink tag. But at least there were no autoplay videos, and you didn't have to worry about your occasional drunken bender being horribly immortalized via Snapchat or Vine.

Besides, there were all those amazing GIFs!

Stormtroopers!

Unicorns!

Dancing babies!

Well, now you can dip one of those GIFalicious creations into your eyeball, like a madeleine in lime-blossom tea, and watch as the late '90s spring forth, fully formed, from your brainpan.

That's right, the folks at the Internet Archive, that saver of classic websites, have now created GifCities: The GeoCities Animated Gif Search Engine.

The site features millions of animated GIFs culled from personal websites hosted by GeoCities before that storied web hosting service, founded in 1994, was shut down by then-owner Yahoo, in 2009.

Before GeoCities bit the dust, the Internet Archive preserved as many of its 38 million sites as possible. Now it's pulled many magical images off those sites and used their filenames to create a searchable database.

Just type in, oh, "teletubby," and see what you get. You're bound to be surprised.

(You might have to search on your term a couple of times to get things to go smoothly. I did, but it was worth it.)

An added bonus: the GIFs link to the sites on which they originally appeared, so you can really get your fix of early internet aesthetics.

GifCities was soft-launched Wednesday, with the Internet Archive planning an official unveiling on Monday.