16 years of Google homepages

Nope, it’s not just you. Google did indeed undergo a minor redesign today, increasing the size of result titles, adding more white space around results and — most dramatically! — removing underlines from links.

Something as small like a pixel-wide blue line may not seem like a profound change, in the grand scheme of things, but it does represent a major shift from the aesthetics of the early web (see: GeoCities, Altavista, multi-colored Times New Roman, horribly patterned page backgrounds) to something a little sleeker and, well … totally new. In fact, it’s the accumulation of exactly this kind of tiny change that took Google from this, in 1998:

… to this, in 1999:

… and this, in August 2001 (“cool jobs”!)

Here’s December 2001:





Early 2011:

Late 2011:

… and we finally end up with Google’s latest iteration.

So what we’re looking at isn’t just an artificial tweak to a minor design element — it’s basically the slow death of the early web as we know it. Thank goodness we still have “Internet archaeologists” to keep its memory alive.


Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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Caitlin Dewey · March 13