The first flip phone went on sale. An IBM computer won its first game of chess against a human. And the first web browser, Netscape, was just two years old and already under siege by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 1.0. Elsewhere in 1996, Bob Dole and Jack Kemp ran on the Republican national ticket for US president.
You may remember Dole’s failed run against then-president Bill Clinton—but we’ll bet you don’t remember what his campaign site looked like. Well, the page is still running, offering a reminder of what the internet looked like nearly twenty years ago.
The campaign site has all the trimmings of a web page designed in the 1990s: Times New Roman is its main font, and all hyperlinks are that standard-issue bright blue that we rarely see online these days. The site also enthusiastically advertises its interactive sections: Visitors can download “Dole for President” wallpaper, design email postcards to send to friends, and play trivia games and crossword puzzles. One of the campaign’s press releases, hosted on the site, proudly touts: “DEBATE MENTION OF WEB SITE CAUSES FLOOD OF VISITORS.”
For us today, it’s charming: The site’s header is a graphic that explains you are visiting Dole’s “online campaign,” and mentions of words like wallpaper, hits, and inbox carry quotation marks around them. It’s also a great example of how internet users struggled to get a hang of this whole World Wide Web thing in the 90s. Incredibly, if you visit dolekemp96.org/about/cookies/cookies.html, you’ll even find a recipe for cookies.