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A lot has changed in 30 years of the world wide web

In 1993, now almost 30 years ago, the first commercial website appeared. A lot has changed on the world wide web since then. I think the top 10 most visited websites in those 30 years says a lot about the developments in the world.

The first commercial website was launched in 1993 by a company called NetMarket, which was an online store that sold books and other items. The website was called "NetMarket: The First Virtual Shopping Mall". It was created by a team of entrepreneurs led by Jeff Bezos, who later founded Amazon has also been in the top 10 since 1998. But not for long.

From Hero to Zero

The younger generation has probably never heard of another website that has dominated the top 10 list since its inception: AOL (America Online). Pre-Google there were also all kinds of other search engines that disappeared in the 2000s.

With Google, the playing field changed quite drastically. Google has been the most popular website for years, but it is striking that there is still room for other search engines: Yahoo, Yandex and Baidu are comfortably in the top 10.

Search engine Yahoo is no longer the dominant website of the 1990s and 2000s, but still manages to keep itself in the top 10. That's quite an achievement.

From Zero to Hero

Search engine Google came on the web in 1998 and already appeared in the top 10 in 2001. It flew to number 1 in five years, never to disappear there again.

With YouTube and Google, Alphabet has dominated the top 3 most visited websites for years. YouTube rose to the top 3 even faster than Google.

And Facebook was even faster. From 2010, social media will be in the top 10 to never disappear. But it lost its second place in 2018 to YouTube. You can see in the video that Facebook is shrinking in absolute numbers. A fate that will also soon befall Twitter?

Bigger and more international

The fact that Baidu is in the top 10 also says something about the no longer so obvious hegemony of the US and the Western world. Who knows, the top 10 will be less dominantly Western in a few years.

You can also see the internationalisation in the absolute figures: the winner of 1993 had 20 million visitors. In 2022 there will be almost 90 billion. This includes a large proportion of non-Western visitors. A number that is only growing.


TikTok is missing in this video and that doesn't seem right to me. Querying ChatGPT yields this top 10 list:

  1. Google

  2. YouTube

  3. Facebook

  4. Amazon

  5. Wikipedia

  6. Twitter

  7. Instagram

  8. LinkedIn

  9. Netflix

  10. TikTok

The top 3 is identical to the video and other lists I could find. But Amazon is number 4 here and that is striking. In many other lists I don't see Amazon in the top 10. LinkedIn, Netflix and TikTok are also in the top 10 according to ChatGPT.

ChatGPT on this: "My top 10 list of most visited websites is based on the numbers from several independent sources, such as Alexa, SimilarWeb and StatCounter. These sources measure the number of unique visitors to a website and provide a ranking of the most popular websites on the internet. Internet. I also considered the general trends on the Internet and the most popular websites in different countries and regions."

What does the future bring?

Will ChatGPT ever be in the top 10? As a competitor to Google? Or Wikipedia? Are we going to see the Metaverse in this top 10? Will Google and YouTube ever disappear from the top 10? Time will tell.

Looking at the top 10, you can in any case conclude that people still search a lot for information on the web, that they search and watch a lot of videos and that they communicate a lot with each other via social media. The tools come and go, but those needs remain for now.

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