Kind of a strange anniversary, in part because I cannot recall Yahoo ever reminding me that I had hit any previous annual milestones. But this week they told me that my main account has been around for 24 years.
Yahoo, for those too young to recall, was where we went for web searches before Google was a thing. I mean sure, there were other options like Lycos and Alta Vista, but Yahoo was kind of the big dog in the search pack… before Google. Yahoo used to be my default browser home page.
But at some point in 1998 I created a Yahoo account, and it was for a game.
This was also the age of the “everybody needs an instant messenger” app as things like ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger started being a way to communicate. I already had both of those… I had an AOL account way back in the day… but in order to keep track of all of your friends you had to be on the services they used. And for TorilMUD, Yahoo messenger became a thing.
So I guess back in June of 1998 I made a Yahoo account to get on that messenger service. I know it was related to TorilMUD because my account was named for my main character there.
Of course, not everybody was on the plan and I ended up using an app called Trillian that united all of your instant messenger services into a single interface. Cool idea, and I used that app regularly for about a decade.
And then, for various reason, instant messaging stopped being a thing… or a thing that could be monetized to support itself. I stopped using Trillian because the services went away… or the people I knew on them stopped logging in… or, in the case of Yahoo, they withdrew third party API support in order to force people to use their own ad laden app.
So today all that really remains is the email address, which I still use now and then. It is one of those things that I have had it for so long that I keep an eye on it because I never know who might pop out of the woodwork and drop me a note there. It happens once in a while. Though, most of the email I get there now is from Yahoo, either trying to get me to read their daily news headlines… half of which are sponsored ads… or trying to get me to upgrade to Yahoo premium email, which they promise will remove all of the ads.
But the joke is on them. I rarely, if ever, go to the actual Yahoo web site. I read my email there on my iPad using the Apple mail app. Yahoo hasn’t cut that off yet, though they won’t do push notifications. But when I open the mail app it pulls the latest email, which is good enough for me. Nothing urgent is likely to be on that account.
Even this anniversary email was mostly just an ad to try and get me to upgrade my service.
Yahoo is such an early web story. It was a huge big deal for a few years, and in my mind it occupies as big of a spot as Google when I think of the history of the web. But by 1999, five years after Yahoo started up, I was already starting to use the new Google search engine… I heard about it by word of mouth because I was close to the Stanford grapevine… that crawled the web rather than requiring people to manually add sites to their index the way Yahoo did.
By the time I started this blog, Yahoo was mostly an email address and an IM option. And today… today everybody is on Discord or Slack or some other service that is essentially group IM with voice chat added on I guess. The only thing close to old school instant messaging I still use is Pidgin as a Jabber client for Imperium messaging… and I could just use Discord for that most days of the week.