14 Awesome Abandoned Websites (That Are Still Online)

space-jam-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot; bonus site – SpaceJam)

The internet has come a long, long way since its inception. But it wasn’t too long ago that people proudly used AOL email addresses, Angelfire web pages and MySpace accounts. In terms of how fast technology moves, these services are now fairly prehistoric, although the latter has reinvented itself somewhat in recent times.

This article features a selection of retro gems from the early days of the internet. They may not have been updated in almost two decades, but nevertheless remain online, lurking in the shadowy corners of the World Wide Web, nostalgic reminders of how fast technology moves.

The Official Heaven’s Gate Web Site

Knowing how the story ends makes this one even creepier.

heavens-gate-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

Between March 22 and 23, 1997, the 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide by downing alcohol and barbiturates then suffocating themselves with plastic bags. Each wore purple, was identified with a Heaven’s Gate patch that was supposed to indicate they were only visiting this planet, and each carried a $5 bill and three quarters.

Their web site is still functional, although there’s no one left to maintain it. The home page declares that Hale-Bopp will be bringing closure to the group, and that they’re preparing to leave this world and go with those that are coming to meet them in their spacecraft.

There’s a whole section about their thoughts on suicide, and they say that they expect to be heading off to the next great adventure in full possession of their bodies, but that suicide has been discussed. Suicide was considered a last resort, something horrible that they would have to do in the face of even more horrible outcomes…. and in hindsight, it’s a sombre read.

Internet Explorer is EVIL!

internet-explorer-is-evil-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

As you can guess, the site is dedicated to the evil of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. It’s also an epic flashback to what most contemporary websites looked like – the long, long humour lists against the hypnotic, almost psychedelic tiled backgrounds, the rants, the story, the flashing header, and, of course, the obligatory button willing visitors to go get Firefox.

There’s even a walk-through and tutorial on how to remove IE…. from Windows 98. And just in case you’re really old-school, there’s a tutorial for installing Windows 95 without IE, too.

Netscape’s Information Page

netscape-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

So, it’s 1994, and there’s this new thing called the ‘Internet’. It’s rumoured to be a vast sort of information super-highway, but how the heck are you going to be able to navigate through it, and find what you want?

Fortunately, Netscape was there to save the day. This informational page taught you the basics – it showed you what a ‘hyperlink’ was and how to use it, it gave you a tour of how to use the Internet White Pages to find someone else who was also using the internet, and how to use internet searches. There was also a Directory of Directories, where you could look at a catalog of exactly what kind of information was out there on the internet. It pointed you toward Newsgroups that might be of assistance, and had a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page for those needing help navigating this weird new world. Thanks, 1994!

The Edinburgh Malt Whisky Tour

edinburgh-malt-whisky-tour-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

Created in 1995 and once featured among the Internet’s Top 100 sites, The Edinburgh Malt Whisky Tour was last updated in 2008, but that would seem to be just a text update – the site retains all of its mid-90s feel, especially in the maps section. It’s an incredibly complete look at distilleries throughout Scotland, and a basic FAQ on distilleries, tours, and various whiskies.

The now-abandoned website boasts that it’s the oldest malt whisky site on the internet, and we believe them. There’s not even the handy “enter your age” function, just a warning that if you’re underage, you’d better not go any farther. We also love the FAQ – buried in it is a disclaimer that no, the author of the page can’t get you any addresses, because that takes phone calls to find, and phone calls cost money.

The Home Page Construction Set

Two years after you took your Netscape tour, you’re ready to make your very own World Wide Web page. And it’s easy, especially with help from 1996’s Home Page Construction Set.

home-page-construction-set-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

It starts off right away telling what it’s not – it’s not an HTML authoring guide, and it’s not going to tell you how to do any of those fancy animation hacks, either. But it is going to give you lots of tips on how to make a great World Wide Web page, from document design (don’t make a page that users need Netscape to view, because even though it’s the best browser there is, not everyone can afford it), be careful on choosing the image you use for background tiling, and re-think those fancy bullet point balls, as they don’t look good with every browser.

It’s an awesome trip back in time for anyone who even started to dabble in building their own web page (and those who didn’t). While not all the links to external sites work, there are some that do. Our favorite are the wallpaper links – check out Julianne’s Background Textures and then be thankful that trend went away.

Color Landform Atlas of the United States

It doesn’t seem possible that there was a time before Google Maps, before publicly available GPS technology, and before we could find our house on Google Street View. But this academic site is proof of it – and it’s awesome.

color-landform-atlas-united-states-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

Last updated in 1995, clicking on the Web Awards button will take you to an impressive list of educational awards the site’s gotten. All American 50 states are listed, and clicking on a state takes you to options for things like shaded relief maps, county maps, black and white maps and satellite image captures. An informational section explains what all the colours mean on the satellite maps, how to differentiate between urban and rural areas, and what the interference from different weather and temperature conditions looks like.

Those Bloody AOL Disks

You remember them – they were everywhere. Even at the time, they were annoying, and once you installed it on your computer, you were never, ever getting rid of it.

those-bloody-aol-disks-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

This guy started a fun little website dedicated to what you could do with those disks, and while he didn’t get far, he was ambitious. He began by trying to replace the blade of a grinder with an AOL disk, experimented to see how effective it would be as body armour (and does the same test alongside a floppy disk), and tried them out as beer mats, too. If you’ve ever wondered what an AOL disk looks like after it’s been microwaved, you now know where to look.

The Almost Definitive Contemporary Christian Music Hot Page

We love this. It’s so ’90s. The starry background, the flickering fire graphic to illustrate just how ‘hot’ the page really is, the all-caps appeal to click on the links that sponsor the page… the HTML Guestbook that’s sadly long gone.

Almost-Definitive-Contemporary-Christian-Music-Hot-Page-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

But we love the links, too – some things just take us right down memory lane – right after the disclaimer that the page will keep up with the latest and greatest of all contemporary Christian music. It’s followed by links to the likes of Creed, Amy Grant and U2, and other dead links to defunct Listserv mailing lists and Usenet groups.

The abandoned website is also a part of the Christian Music Ring, and everyone of a certain age remembers going to a site only to end up clicking through to others in the same web ring.

The Internet 1996 World Exposition

internet-1996-world-exposition-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

The World’s Fairs have always been huge events, showcasing technological advances and wonders of the modern world. This is the site for 1996’s Internet World Exposition, where people from all over the world could come together to celebrate this amazing creation that was going to bring everyone closer together.

There were three different aspects of the fair – the Pavilions, which were individual web pages (including the likes of chat rooms and Java applets), places around the real world, with real-life events set up to celebrate the internet, and events – which were essentially real things recorded on the internet.

Forever, apparently. Not all the links within the page work, but there are plenty of awesome places to see – mostly with animated GIFs and tiled backgrounds.

Growth and Usage of the Web and the Internet


The internet grew at a staggering pace, and this website, last updated in 1996, provides some fascinating information on just how the toddler years of the internet were shaping up. Among other resources, there’s a terminology section, for those who aren’t quite sure what tech terms like ‘computer’ and ‘Ethernet card’ mean.

According to the data gathered from Network Wizards, some 1.3 million hosts and 21,000 domains were online in January 1993. By January of 1996, the last time the site was updated, those figures had jumped to 9.5 million hosts and 240,000 domains. Antiquated certainly, but it’s an interesting snapshot of internet growth in the early to mid ’90s.

Geoff Ryman’s 253

A strange, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style internet novel, 253 tells the individual stories of all 253 passengers on a train traveling the Bakerloo Line from Embankment to Elephant and Castle.

geoff-rymans-253-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

There are 252 passengers and a driver, and they’re all described in 253 words of text as you navigate through the pages. Those 253 words delve into their personalities, as well as the thoughts and desires of each person, building character after character until you get to the end of the line.

What happens at the end of the line?

You’ll have to read it – although we’re also assured that there will be “Another One Along in a Minute”. According to the website, 253 takes place on January 11, 1995 – the day the author discovered that his best fiend was dying of AIDS.

The Spork Pages

spork.org-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

Sporks were apparently very popular in Web 1.0, and yes, spork.org still works. Its last update in 1996 seems to be an announcement that the now-abandoned website was launching spork t-shirts for $7 each… and we can’t help but wonder how many of those are left.

The page is a weird ode to the spork – a piece of cutlery combining a spoon with a fork. There are philosophical musings on the spork, a 790Kb AVI of the page owner eating with a spork, and reviews of different places you can find sporks and the quality of sporks you can expect to find. There are sporks in the media, the questionable idea of the foon, and, weirdly, this page isn’t alone.

spork-info-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

There’s the SporkInfo! page, which still claims to be under construction. And there’s still a spork song (1995) some spork poetry (also, 1995), and a Spork FAQ. In case you ever wanted to know what is and what is not a spork, these pages are your one-stop-shop.

The Simulator

Last updated in 1997, The Simulator is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure with absolutely no adventure.

the-simulator-abandoned-website (Image: screenshot)

Walk through a normal day in the life of the everyman, choose between options like getting up with or without hitting the snooze button, taking a hot or cold shower, and more. Pick your cereal, choose which sides of the box you’re going to read, how fast you’re going to drive to work…. you get the idea. It’s a weird, weird little project proving that a computer simulation can be more mundane than real life, but the 1997-era photos make it totally worth sifting through each and every monotonous choice.

Related – 10 Creepy Urban Legends Spread by the Internet


About the author: Debra Kelly




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