This week Microsoft pulled the plug on its onetime flagship web browser, Internet Explorer.
Launched in 1995, Internet Explorer became the go-to browser around the globe, pre-installed in billions of computers.
Now, as it loses out to Google’s more popular Chrome and competitors including Firefox, Internet Explorer joins the elephant graveyard of fallen tech.
It will sit in the cultural lexicon between once-dominant brands like Yahoo and Myspace.
The internet has proven a fickle battleground for companies, with traditional tech overlords vying with startups for clicks, attention, and loyalty.
Here are some of the famous names that once ruled the web:
At its peak, Yahoo was valued at $125 billion (US) and had 95 million page views per day. It was everywhere and everything – internet directory, news, mail, cloud storage, personalised content.
It was global, and – for its time – radical.
Yahoo set the tone for Silicon Valley – the first big internet company to embrace a casual, college-esque workplace vibe, a move later emulated by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg with his famous grey T-shirts and hoodies.
David Filo, who started Yahoo with Standford buddy Jerry Yang, didn’t wear shoes at work.
“You could wear shorts and flip-flops to work. It was super entrepreneurial, which is now kind of a cliché,” former employee Tom Parker later recalled.
Yahoo’s decline was slow and sad.
Some unfortunate decisions were made – in 2002 the company refused to buy Google because it thought the $3 billion price tag was over-valued.
After the dotcom crash in 2001, Yahoo’s stock plummeted from $475 to just $8.11.
It talked to eBay about a partnership but didn’t lock it in and then tried to buy Facebook, but it took too long.
Yahoo became the jack of all trades, master of none.
A revolving door of chief executives who lacked clear vision slowly hammered nails in the coffin.
While the company is officially still alive, it is a shadow of its former self.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Before Facebook, there was only one giant in the social media sphere.
Launched in 2003, Myspace gave us likes, shares, and DMs before Facebook even existed.
Up until 2008, Myspace was the largest social networking site in the world and, in June 2006, overtook Google as the most visited website in the US.
In 2005 the site was then approaching 100 million users, and was purchased by Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corporation for $580 million.
It was all downhill from there as Facebook’s meteoric rise began.
At first, Myspace tried to ignore its major competitor, then copy it, before throwing in the towel and repurposing itself as a music site.
By 2011, Myspace was sold for a mere $35 million, a fraction of what it was purchased for a few years earlier.
Remember Jeeves? He was the guy who knew everything, the butler who could answer all your questions – until he couldn’t.
So what happened? The short answer – Google.
Launched in April 1997, users flocked to AskJeeves.com. By 1999 the site was handling one million questions a day.
The same year it went public and the shares went from $14 to $190.50.
In 2001 the dotcom crash hit and Jeeves took a fatal blow. Advertisers fled the site and Ask Jeeves lost $425 million.
Google started to dominate the search engine field – people didn’t want to type whole questions, they wanted fast searches with a slick algorithm.
It was time for the butler to retire.
The site was reconfigured as a search engine and rebranded into Ask.com – which still exists today.
Before people paid for Spotify, many download music illegally. And the king of counterfeit streaming was none other than Limewire.
File-sharing was not new when LimeWire launched in 2000. Napster, which dominated space, was about to be shut down after just two years.
At LimeWire’s peak there were several million people a day using the service to collect all the music they wanted.
In 2010 after a four-year legal battle with the US music industry, it was finally shut down.
Like video killed the radio, LimeWire had threatened to topple the music industry. No one made music piracy so convenient. Ruling against the filesharing service, the US Federal Court said the platform intentionally caused a “massive scale of infringement” by permitting the sharing of copyrighted works.
AOL was the Google of its generation – before the company made some terrible mistakes and faded into almost oblivion.
AOL taught the world about dial-up internet before introducing everyone to email. It was hot, hot, hot.
After its meteoric rise, AOL struggled to remain relevant in the 2000s thanks to a disastrous merger with Time Warner and new competition from Google and Facebook.
After the dotcom crash the company was hit hard – AOL Time Warner posted a US$99 billion loss.
AOL, once worth $226 billion, was acquired by Verizon last year for $4.4 billion.