While poking through some old files this morning I came across probably the first bit of HTML I’ve ever written, way back on the 10th April 19961.

I think I vaguely remember making these. We were in Castlemaine staying over at my grandparents house and Dad bought along his laptop for us kids to play with (complete with a passive-matrix LCD and 2 hours of battery life). It was the evening and I was mucking around with Netscape Navigator. This was before we got the internet at home so I’m not quite sure why we even had Navigator. It may have been that Dad was using it for work, or maybe it came preinstalled on the laptop. But whatever the reason, it was there, and I was playing around with it.

I was browsing around a locally stored site showcasing Java in the browser (which actually included a decent game of tic-tac-toe playable as a Java applet) when I found the built-in HTML editor. Not knowing what this editor was for, and thinking that it was some strange, crappier version of Microsoft Word, I started typing random things. I eventually found the button to make anchor tags, and the ability to link pages together, and realising that this was possible, I got a bit excited and I set about trying to recreate the on-line help that came with QBasic.

I only made a couple of pages or so before I got bored and a little underwhelmed. After all, the online QBasic help was “cooler” because it used ASCII characters, while this was using graphics and GUI elements2. So I stopped and moved on to something else, completely forgetting about these HTML files. I thought they were lost to time until I found them today.

So here they are, posted as screenshots for posterity. Naturally, they still render in modern browsers, with the biggest difference being that the background was grey back then. But the default serif font is authentic.

  1. Or at least that’s what the date-stamp says. ↩︎

  2. That QBasic was made up entirely of text characters was an attribute I was really drawn to, even back when Windows 95 was the thing. ↩︎