In 2019, the World Wide Web turned 30 years old. Tim Burners-Lee wrote an initial paper describing his vision for the WWW in 1989, but it wasn't until 1991 that software was online and people outside of CERN were invited to join this new community. A year later, in 1992, The Last Outpost followed suit and opened its doors to the public for play testing. In 1993, CERN made the underlying WWW code available on a royalty-free basis, and that's when the web really took off.
The Last Outpost got its first page on the "World Wide Web" in late 1994.
The main design of our pages has been updated a few times over the years as the web technology has improved and as styles have changed. If we'd have realized back when we started this project that The Last Outpost would still be on line a quarter of a century later, I think we would have paid more attention to archiving the changes. That isn't to say that we'd have done it, however. Backing up data is easy and cheap now, but back in the early days it was a major hassle that usually involved stacks of floppy disks. We've got a few live backups of the "previous" site formats that were left over when we moved to an updated design, but we don't have snapshots of what the Last Outpost web pages looked like on a month to month basis.
Luckily for us, there is The Wayback Machine! The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet. It was launched in 2001 by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California, United States.
Here, for your enjoyment and for the sake of history is the oldest backup of the Last Outpost Homepage, and some Wayback links showing how our web pages have evolved over the last twenty five years.
Happy Birthday, World Wide Web!
The Last Outpost is a seriously old part of the Internet. Here, for posterity, is the oldest backup of the Last Outpost Homepage that I was able to find. It is a snapshot of the very first LO web pages that were hosted from www.umich.edu/~malakai starting in late 1994.
This is the very first home page theme we had. It was designed to look good in Lynx, which was (and still is!) a text based browser written for use on terminals. Note the "self guided web tour" of the main town. It was made by programmatically converting the world format into HTML code so that in 1994 you could click your way through town. Even back then, we knew you'd be able play the game entirely from within your browser someday. The Web has come a long way since then!
These are links to the Wayback Machine archives of our homepage. The earliest archive looks like it probably came from an Alexa crawl, and doesn't include the main castle graphic that I drew using Adobe Photoshop 3.0 sometime in 1995.
The web pages were hosted by my internet service provider, "West Coast Online". This dates back to a time when getting a dial-up modem account usually got you some personal storage space to put up a thing called "a home page". Its what all the cool kids were doing before there was Geocities or Facebook. The original castle graphic didn't make it into the archive for some reason. Since this snapshot predates the founding of the Internet Archive, I'd guess it had something to do with storage constraints on the Wayback Machine at the time.
These are the first pages hosted from our own Web server on our own machine! The theme was "Amber Terminal Color" to match how the text looked on a lot of the terminals that people used to play from. Ten years into the Last Outpost, and I was already nostalgic about old technology.
The web was really starting to get graphically intense by 2002, and our home page reflected that. Notice the banner ad at the top of the page! Most of the pages other than the front page were still in the "lavender and yellow" theme that replaced the old "pumpkin on black" amber theme that we had been using. By 2004, we had dumped the last of the Lavender and Yellow theme, and replaced it with the Inside the Brown Book theme. We stayed with the Brown Book theme for over ten years.
The old Brown Book theme was starting to show its age. It was really hard to read on most mobile devices if it even rendered correctly at all. The new Red Book theme was our first attempt to update the web pages for smaller screens. I found the same book that I used to make the Brown Book borders all those years ago, took fresh pictures of it for the updated pages, and this time took pictures of the open book to make the borders for Inside the Red Book. The pages were much more fancy and looked pretty good on mobile devices, but they kind of suffered on regular PC's.
This theme was based on my 1983 copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Rulebook. With full reactive design, this theme finally starts to look right on both phones and PC's. The theming of the inside pages took a little longer, and aren't yet done in this snapshot.
I can't tell you what the Last Outpost web site will look like twenty five years from now, but if you want to see what it looks like right now, that's just a click away.
Thanks for enjoying and playing the Last Outpost!
-RahjIII, The Last Outpost Webmaster, 2019