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64 Bits | The Forgotten Stories Of Early Web Design

Jim Boulton, self-proclaimed digital archaeologist and Aesop Agency’s digital director, is on a mission to preserve the earliest designs of the web. At his latest exhibition at London’s Here East, he has brought together a collection of digital artworks and early websites to make visitors remember those who were vital in molding the worldwide web that we know and use today.

Taking its names from a processor type, 64 Bits features 32 “bits” of artwork and 32 websites from the early web. It showcases design work such as the first emoticons, the Dancing Baby and the symbol-painted ASCII portraits alongside the less iconic – but no less important – sites such as the first ever web page, Pizza Hut’s first transactional site and Archie, the first search engine.

Boulton said he designed 64 Bits in homage to the web designers who have dropped out of the public memory, whether that be through time, indifference or the web’s imperfect archiving structure.

“The Internet Archive Wayback Machine started archiving sites at the end of 1996 but the first website appeared in 1991,” he said. “So the first five years of the web have just not been archived or documented very well.”

“I think a lot of the entrepreneurs who exploited the web have been recognised but the creatives that helped shape it and helped create the culture largely have gone unknown.”

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