South Africa has a proud Internet history, which started in 1991 when the first IP packets were sent over a 14.4kbps link between Rhodes University in Grahamstown and the United States.
In 1993 The Internet Company of South Africa (Ticsa) was formed, and the first commercial Internet service providers were given live access to the Internet.
Between 1995 and 2000 the Internet started to gain traction in South Africa after Telkom and MWEB (with its Big Black Box) popularised dial-up connections for home use.
During this time many South African companies launched websites and started to experiment with an online presence.
With more South Africans starting to go online, companies like Mail & Guardian, IOL, and Bidorbuy built an online presence.
Slow Internet speeds – typically between 56kbps and 128kbps – means that these websites could not contain any large components.
To ensure that a website would load fast on a 56kbps, there were no large images or other data-heavy components on websites.
What South Africa’s oldest websites looked like 20 years ago
The Internet Archive makes it possible to look at what South Africa’s oldest websites looked like 20 years ago.
The Internet Archive has built an Internet library of websites, which include snapshots of South African websites over time.
It should be noted that these snapshots do not always contain images and other web elements. The screenshots below have therefore been edited slightly to remove the broken images.
Here is a look back at what some of South Africa’s top websites looked like in the late nineties, when the Internet started to take off in South Africa.