Before we get started, I'd like to make it clear that this week's/month's blog will be of interest to a very small audience.
During a spare 10 minutes when I should have been doing something more useful - like clearing out the guttering - I went on a journey through time to the Isle of Wight in the 1990s. Some would argue that the Isle of Wight of 2019 is pretty similar to the Isle of Wight of 1998 but such people clearly haven't trawled through ferry websites or been to Asda in Newport.
For those interested in such things, we can gaze in wonder at the terrible graphics thanks to the Wayback Machine which is a glorious archive of how the world wide web looked in its early days.
Let's start back in 1998 at the Red Funnel homepage:
My questions from this gem include:
Meanwhile, here's what Wightlink were up to in 1998:
Of course, you'll have noticed from the headline that Wightlink were predicting the rise of Derek Sandy and his smash hit 'Welcome to the Isle of Wight'.
Also note that dinosaur digs were worthy of about one third of the homepage. Was this thanks to the Jurassic Park sequels? Or was it because the dinosaurs had only recently died out in 1998? We shall never know.
I continued my time wasting by clicking the link to 'children's pages' on the Wightlink homepage (below). It doesn't specify a closing date, so I plan to print off a picture of Our Lady Pamela and get the kids to colour it in.
When I hand it in to the ticket office I'll just say 'sorry for the 21-year delay, I was waiting for the kids to be born'.
Next up is Hovertravel, which had the word 2000 written on their homepage, despite it being December 1998 according to Wayback Machine. Perhaps it was just a reminder that armageddon was not far away thanks to the Millennium Bug.
It seems to me that there was a pleasant simplicity and politeness to the World Wide Web in those days with phrases such as 'We are pleased to introduce' from Hovertravel and patient explanations from Wightlink about how to navigate the site (since no-one really knew what they were doing). Red Funnel meanwhile said they 'would be happy' to add a link to any 'great Island website' in a way which suggests that there were only about 11 people online in 1998 (which is almost true - honestly kids, you could actually buy paper books which were just lists of useful websites).
Next up, we'll take a look at the first website for the Isle of Wight Festival which appeared in 2002. From the pictures, this archive looks to be from around July or August 2002, shortly after Rock Island.
I don't think I'm risking controversy in saying that the festival's graphic design work has improved a wee bit in 17 years.
The two day festival was only £40 if you lived on the Island and bought it long enough in advance. Although, as I've said before, I still think the Isle of Wight Festival is good value compared to most festivals (the early bird Islander ticket was £115 for four days for 2020, and the modern festival doesn't really compare on scale).
Finally, I treated myself to a bit of self indulgence by looking for the first version of Isle of Wight Guru.
Honestly, I wish I hadn't bothered.
I'm certainly not going to claim that our current design is the world's greatest...but our first attempt was a Grade A stinker. And it wasn't 1998 either, it was 2013.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog