Remember the days when websites were pages of just solid, repeated backgrounds with buttons that were cheap gif images. You know – back when gif images were cool. Think back, before the days of CSS 2, back when you still had to type in “www.” at the front of the URL, back when people knew NetZero existed, back when “You’ve got mail” could be trademarked by AOL, WAY back, when the internet was young and I was just a wee lad playing with Legos.
My adventures take us to the Internet Archive Way Back Machine, to the earliest day that lego.com archived. It’s amazing the Way Back Machine even existed at that time, but I guess that goes to show how historians are everywhere.
Site destination: www.lego.com, November 9, 1997.
Oh my… I just have to show you a picture of this…
Even being a corporate company like AOL (whose site, mind you, wasn’t all that bad at the time), the Lego Group was under no market pressure at the time to create a decent looking site. The site even begins with what in today’s standards would be a cheesy introduction: ” Hi! ” The rest of the text is polite and professional, and rather informative. These days it seems like companies keep burying the About page and just assume you know what the company is and what it does when you visit the site. How silly.
As an adventurer, I explored the ancient Lego site looking for gold, and here’s a few surprises I found:
1) URL game of a pirate seeking treasure. link
Today’s flash games keep all activity on the same page, but before there was flash, there were relatively few ways to make a game (think pre-Java), but an interactive game could still be made by making people following the hyperlinks. They worked like the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, only they were relatively short (it’s tedious to make these kinds of games).
Unfortunately, because it’s an HTML game, it can also be broken by pieces getting lost. The Way Back Machine unfortunately doesn’t have all of the pages cached, so the game is… broken.
2) The addresses of Lego Company offices around the world are listed on a single page!
Before PHP redirects based on area, global companies had a single website that was for basically everyone to use, so you got to see the world. That’s just what happened here. Furthermore, this was back in the day when companies actually used their websites for providing physical addresses for you to contact them. That’s unheard of today! (Maybe too much spam mail – back when spam mail was predominately physical.)
3) Russian Lego building event.
In the Russian corner of the site (which is in English), there are pictures of real people – not posing, not paid. That’s not something you see much of on professional websites these days – or at least not listed as a bunch of hyperlinks to imagery.
Here’s a few samples. The event was a Christmas at the Kremlin shpeel that something like 300,000 kids attend, along with political leaders and other important people. Even the Patriarch was there.
The main (Lego) attraction:
Notice the little church in the corner. Lego models scale rather easily – assuming you have the pieces (the big church is made of 350,000 bricks).