Web Design History Timeline

Explore the timeline of milestones in the history of web design from 1990 to the present.

1995 April 10th

Opera 1.0

The Norwegian company Opera Software first introduced to the public a new MultiTorg Opera 1.0 web browser that used MDI (Multiple Document Interface) technology. The use of MDI enabled users to simultaneously open several windows of webpages within the browser. As of version 2.0, the browser’s name was shortened to Opera.

Opera 1.0

1995 April 13th


Michael Loren Mauldin from Carnegie Mellon University developed one of Lycos’s oldest search engines. The name of the search engine is derived from Lycosidae, a Latin name for a family of wolf spiders.

Lycos website in 1996

1995 May

The term User Experience

The term User Experience was probably first heard in public at the CHI ’95 Conference Companion on Human Factors in Computing Systems held on May 7-11, 1995 in Denver, Colorado. The combination of the two words User Experience first appeared in a presentation by Donald Norman, Jim Miller and Austin Henderson of Apple Computer entitled What You See, Some of What’s in the Future, And How We Go About Doing It: HI at Apple Computer, particularly in the sentence: “In this organizational overview, we cover some of the critical aspects of human interface research and application at Apple or, as we prefer to call it, the ‘User Experience.’”

The term User Experience

1995 May 25th

Batman Forever website

Three web designers – Jeffrey Zeldman, Steve McCarron and Alec Pollak – created an official website for Batman Forever. At the time, it was one of the first web projects that used the WWW service as a marketing and visual medium.

Batman Forever website in 1995

1995 June 8th

PHP 1.0

The Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf designed the first version of the popular PHP 1.0 scripting language. The term PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page. In 1997, Israeli developers Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski rewrote the parser to create the basis for PHP 3. They also changed the name of the language to a recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.

Announcing the Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools) version 1.0.

1995 July 16th


Amazon, founded by Jeff Bezos, launched one of the first online stores on Amazon.com on July 5, 1994. Amazon first began as an online bookstore and later expanded its range of products to CDs, DVDs, software, clothes, toys, etc. In 1998, Amazon purchased the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), and, a year later, the Alexa.com web service. In 2002, Amazon started running a cloud platform called Amazon Web Services (AWS), and as of November 2007, the Amazon Kindle e-reader belongs to one of its major products.

Amazon website in 1995

1995 August 16th

Internet Explorer 1.0

Microsoft released, as a part of its bonus package, the Microsoft Plus! Internet Jumpstart Kit (later also known as the Internet Connection Wizard) for Windows 95, which included Internet Explorer 1.0. In the original version of Windows 95, a web browser was not available, as Microsoft underestimated the potential of the rapidly developing Internet.

The source code for Internet Explorer 1.0 was based on the older Spyglass Mosaic browser for which Microsoft purchased license rights. Internet Explorer 1.0 occupied only 1 MB of disk space and its features were considerably limited compared to other browsers at the time.

Internet Explorer 1.0

1995 September 3rd


An Iranian-American programmer, Pierre Omidyar, programmed a simple auction website called AuctionWeb. The first item Pierre Omidyar allegedly sold on the portal was his own broken laser pointer for $ 14.83. In September 1997, the portal was officially renamed to eBay. In October 2002, eBay switched to the PayPal online payment system and in 2005, eBay bought Skype VoIP.

eBay website in 1999

1995 September 18th

Netscape Navigator 2.0

The Netscape Communications Corporation launched Netscape Navigator 2.0 as its new major product. The browser contained a wide range of innovations and enhancements. Among other features, Netscape Navigator 2.0 supported JavaScript, animated GIFs, the HTML tag <frame> and proprietary tag <blink>. Netscape Mail 2.0 was also part of version 2.0, making Netscape Navigator 2.0 a fully operational Web application package.

Netscape Navigator 2.0

1995 November

FrontPage 1.0

Vermeer Technologies developed the FrontPage 1.0 editor for WYSIWYG web development. In January 1996, Microsoft bought Vermeer and, in June, released an editor called Microsoft FrontPage 1.1. Microsoft expected that extending its software portfolio to a web editor would provide a considerable advantage in the impending browser wars.

FrontPage 1.0

1995 November 24th

HTML 2.0

The IETF organization published the RFC 1866 specification for HTML 2.0. HTML 2.0 supported forms, tables, graphics, and a number of new tags, such as <!DOCTYPE>, <head>, <body>, <form>, <img>, <input>, <select>, <strong> and others.

HTML 2.0

1995 December

Adobe PageMill 1.0

Adobe Systems released a WYSIWYG HTML editor called Adobe PageMill 1.0. The editor allowed users to easily create websites without any knowledge of the basics of HTML.

Adobe PageMill 1.0

1995 December


Lynda Weinman, a computer instructor and graphic designer, launched one of the first online libraries of training courses for web developers at lynda.com.

Lynda.com website in 1996

1995 December 4th

JavaScript 1.0

Brendan Eich of Netscape designed the first version of an object-oriented JavaScript that became widely used to create interactive websites. JavaScript later become the basis for other programming languages, such as ActionScript used in Macromedia Flash. In 1998, JavaScript was standardized by ISO.

Netscape and Sun announce JavaScript

1995 December 15th


In the Digital Equipment Corporation research laboratories, a team of researchers led by Louise Monier and Michael Burrows created the AltaVista search engine. Thanks to high-performance hardware, AltaVista was able to perform a quick full-text search across a wide range of websites. In 1997, the first free online translator Babel Fish became part of AltaVista. In 2003, AltaVista was taken over by Yahoo! and due to Google’s dominant position among search engines, the AltaVista project was terminated on July 8, 2013.

AltaVista website in 1996

1996 April 1st


Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat founded a company called Alexa Internet. The company’s original vision was to develop advanced web navigation that would continually improve itself on the basis of user-generated data. For this purpose, the Alexa toolbar 1.0 was created in 1997 as an extension of the browser. In 1999, Alexa Internet was bought by Amazon.

Alexa Internet website in 1997

1996 May 12th

Internet Archive

To archive various types of digital documents (websites, music, software, video, books, etc.), Brewster Kahle founded a non-profit organization called the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive digital library is currently the largest archive of digital documents in the world. Since 1996, more than 866 billion websites have been stored in the archive (*as of May 2024).

Internet Archive website in 1997

1996 September

JScript 1.0

Microsoft implemented JavaScript into Internet Explorer 3.0 under the name JScript 1.0. By changing the name to JScript, Microsoft wanted to avoid potential patent litigation with Sun Microsystems, which created the Java programming language.

JScript 1.0 and Internet Explorer 3.0

1996 December

ASP 1.0

Microsoft developed Active Server Pages (ASP 1.0), a server-side script engine for dynamically generated websites. A distinctly modified and improved ASP technology, ASP.NET 1.0, was released in January 2002.

Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack

1996 December 17th


W3C issued official recommendations for language specification, Cascading Style Sheets, level 1 (CSS1). Cascading styles describe how to display elements in documents written in HTML, XHTML, and XML markup languages.

The first proposal of “Cascading HTML Style Sheets” was published in October 1994 by a Norwegian programmer Håkon Wium Lie, who was working at CERN under Tim Berners-Lee at the time.

In the following months, Bert Bos, a Dutch developer, significantly contributed to CSS1 specification development. In 1997, Håkon Wium Lie and Bert Bos published one of the first cascading style books entitled Cascading style sheets: designing for the Web.

CSS 1 recommendation 1996

1996 December 18th

Macromedia Flash 1.0

In December 1996, Macromedia acquired FutureWave Software, which was developing the FutureSplash animator. The program was used to create vector animations that could be played with the FutureSplash Viewer plugin in the then popular Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. In December 18th 1996, Macromedia released an enhanced version of this program called Macromedia Flash 1.0.

Macromedia website and Flash 1.0 in 1997

1997 January 14th

HTML 3.2

W3C issued a final recommendation specifying the HTML 3.2 markup language. The original HTML 3.0 version had never become a standard, as it was too complicated, and the leading Microsoft and Netscape developers had a problem implementing it. In the HTML 3.2 specification, among others, new tags appeared, such as <center>, <div>, <font>, <script>, <style>.

HTML 3.2 specification 1997

1997 April 7th


As part of the W3C consortium, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) officially launched its activity. The main goal of the WAI project is to improve the accessibility of websites and WWW services for users with disabilities.

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) 1997

1997 May


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a term indicating a set of techniques and rules that are applied to provide a better position of websites in search results for selected keywords. The first use of the term is not fully documented. According to Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Watch, the term Search Engine Optimization first appeared in May 1997.

The term Search Engine Optimization first appeared in May 1997

1997 June 11th

Netscape Communicator 4.0

At the time of the culmination of the first browser war, Netscape released Netscape Communicator 4.0, a web application suite. It included, for example, Netscape Navigator 4.0 web browser with CSS1 support, Netscape Messenger email client, Netscape Composer HTML editor and Netscape Calendar. In January 1998, Netscape announced that the subsequent versions of the software will be developed as open source projects under Mozilla and will be available to users free of charge.

Netscape Navigator 4.0

1997 September 30th

Internet Explorer 4.0

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 4.0. IE 4.0 was integrated into the Windows 95 and Windows 98 operating systems and was freely available for the Mac OS, Solaris and HP-UX platforms. The distribution methods and integration of Internet Explorer into Windows subsequently became one of the subjects of legal proceedings between the US government and Microsoft over the abuse of a dominant market position. Internet Explorer 4.0 gained more than 60% market share at the beginning of 1999, contributing significantly to Microsoft winning over Netscape in the so-called first browser war.

Internet Explorer 4.0

1997 October


The term Dynamic HTML (DHTML) was first introduced in connection with the release of Internet Explorer 4.0. It did not refer to a new stand-alone language, but only a combination of the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript technology to enhance interactivity and website dynamics.

W3Schools DHTML website in 2000

1997 December

Dreamweaver 1.0

Macromedia released the first version of the popular Dreamweaver 1.0 website editor. The editor allowed users to switch between text and WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) mode. The first version of the Dreamweaver editor was only available for Mac OS, and in March 1998, a version for Windows was released.

Dreamweaver 1.2

1997 December 18th

W3C HTML Validator

W3C announced the launch of the W3C HTML Validator. The tool for the validation of documents (HTML, XHTML, MathML, etc.) was based on an older project entitled The Kinder, Gentler HTML Validator, created by Gerald Oskoboina.

W3C HTML Validator in 1998

1997 December 18th

HTML 4.0

W3C published official recommendations for the HTML 4.0 specification. The HTML 4.0 specification was divided into three variants: Strict, Transitional, and Frameset, and its aim was to separate the HTML semantics and the document layout (formatted using only CSS) into two separate parts. In December 1999, recommendations were published for a revised version, HTML 4.01.

HTML 4.0 specification 1997