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Once upon a time in 1994, entrepreneurs David Bohnett and John Rezner founded a web hosting service called Beverly Hills Internet, which would later be known as GeoCities. The service allowed anybody to create their own webpage for free, and each of those pages was sorted into a specific "neighborhood" depending on what its content was (CapitolHill for politics, MotorCity for cars, etc). Through the rest of The Nineties, Geocities grew to become of the biggest websites of its day, the third-most visited website on the entire World Wide Web behind AOL and Yahoo, and had thousands of users signing up everyday.
Things started to go downhill the moment the site was acquired by Yahoo in January 1999. After paying $3 billion for it, they constantly struggled to make the service profitable, many users left over the new Terms of Service Yahoo put out, and the neighborhood categorization was dropped in favor of sites named after the users that made them. Given how huge of a presence GeoCities had in the Internet at that point, Yahoo's mismanagement probably helped usher in the bursting of the dot-com bubble.
Then in late June 2009, Yahoo announced that it would shut down the GeoCities service and every website in it, and on October 26, 2009, they followed through on that promise. Any attempt to go to a GeoCities page now will take you to a 404 page. Most people dismissed this happening with casual indifference, but then, soon after the closure was announced, a number of different archive projects sprouted up in an attempt to save and preserve as many of the 38,000,000+ pages that existed as possible, culminating in a 900 GB torrent released by Jason Scott and the Archive Team one year after the site came to an end.
The blog One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age showcases and discusses interesting, cute, and symptomatic stuff found in the GeoCities archive. It's a fascinating insight into the early Internet culture and trends either forgotten or evolved.
For some reason, GeoCities remains open in Japan.
GeoCities provide examples of:
- Missing Episode: Any website that wasn't saved by any of the archive projects.
- Pop Culture Osmosis: Especially on Homestar Runner.
- The Nineties: When people think "Internet in the 90's", they think GeoCities.
- Trope Codifier: The idea of regular people creating their own web content for no cost.
- Zeerust: The look of nearly every website on there, especially the ones themed around computers or technology.