Yahoo! Home Pages Through the Ages

Looking back at how Yahoo's home page has changed over the years tells you a lot about the company - and the world around it.

This week, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (#8 in a series) unveiled yet another redesign of the Web 1.0 giant's home page (#347 in a series). Looking back at how Yahoo's home page has changed over the years tells you a lot about the company – and the world around it. Here's a loving look backward at Yahoo's nearly 20 years of home pages.

SEE ALSO: Before the Internet: The golden age of online services

May 1994

Meet Jerry and Dave's Guide to the World Wide Web. Yahoo began in early 2004 as a selection of a few hundred Web sites culled by Stanford electrical engineering students Jerry Wang and David Filo. It didn't even get the name "Yahoo" until March of that year, and Yahoo.com wasn't registered until the following January. It's pretty clear from this page that neither Jerry nor Dave took any classes in graphic design. Then again, "hire a designer" was probably on that "todo" list at the bottom, along with "write a business plan" and "order takeout."

CEO: None, unless you count Jerry and Dave's graduate adviser
Billboard's #1 song for 1994: "The Sign" by Ace of Base

Credit: Archive.org
October 1996

It's more than two years later, and despite the fact that Yahoo is now a public company worth more than $1 billion, its home page hasn't changed all that much. The number of categories has expanded and the todo list is gone. It's begun using the famous logo with the shades to designate the truly "cool" sites, and it's now available in German. But mostly Yahoo looks like early Craigslist without the hook–err, we mean, adult services professionals.

CEO: Tim "Rhymes with Google" Koogle
Yahoo's 1996 IPO price: $13

Credit: Archive.org
November 1999

Another three years passes, and Yahoo is partying like it's 1999 – because, well, it is. The search directory has now become a fully fledged Web portal, with free email, chat, calendars, games, auctions, DIY Web sites, and tons of stuff for sale. (DVDs! Pokemon! Beanie Babies!) Little did they know that in a few short months the dot com boom would go bust and they'd be partying like it was 1929.

CEO: Still Tim Koogle
Number of new Beanie Babies introduced in 1999: 59

Credit: Archive.org
July 2003

With Web portals dead or dying, Yahoo decides to reinvent itself as an entertainment network. It hires former Warner Bros. Chair Terry Semel as CEO and goes on a buying spree, snatching up a dozens of entertainment sites like Launch as well as advertising businesses to feed a seemingly infinite number of "channels." This led eventually to the infamous "Peanut Butter Manifesto," an internal memo written by then-senior VP Brad Garlinghouse complaining that Yahoo was spreading itself too thin. This was later followed by the lesser-known Garlic Butter Manifesto, sent by Brad Peanuthouse.

CEO: Terry "Show Me the Money" Semel
Winner of the 2003 American Idol crown: Ruben Studdard

Credit: Archive.org
June 2007

This isn't actually what Yahoo's home page looked like six years ago, but the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was apparently unable to record any Yahoo home pages for more than two years – a period that corresponds rather neatly to the last years of the Terry Semel era. By the time he left Yahoo in June 2007 Semel was nearly half a billion dollars richer but the company was in shambles. We'd be ashamed to show our faces, too.

CEO: Still Terry Semel, but not for long
Semel's rank among the Wall Street Journal's best paid executives of the decade: No. 8

Credit: AllThingsD
April 2008

After co-founder Jerry Yang took over as CEO, he bought with him yet another corporate reorganization and home page redesign. Gone is the emphasis on Yahoo entertainment channels, replaced largely by news and a series of widgets for weather, stocks, email, and so on, running down the right side of the page. Unlike previous Yahoo home pages, this one was clean, uncluttered, and easy to navigate, meaning that it was destined to be quickly replaced by something worse – and so for that matter was Yang.

CEO: Jerry "Chief Yahoo" Yang
Number of people who had heard of Sarah Palin in April 2008 and did not live in Wasilla, Alaska: 0

Credit: Archive.org
November 2009

Some 18 months after reluctantly taking the reins Yang is gone, replaced by the salty-mouthed Carol Bartz. Which of course could mean only one thing: Another reorg, and another new home page. This one is back to busyness as usual, with a rash of mini apps along the left hand column, trending topics on the right, and a mess of links in the middle. Around this time Yahoo also spent a fair amount of effort trying to make the purple Y!ou logo happen. (It didn't happen.)

CEO: Carol "#@&! off!" Bartz
Number of women Tiger Woods allegedly had sex with in 2009 who were not his wife: 11
Amount the ex Mrs. Woods allegedly received in divorce: $110 million

The Yahoo Sign (1999 - 2011)

This is not the Yahoo home page at all, obviously, but the famous neon sign that could be found astride Interstate 80 in San Francisco's South of Market district for more than a decade. For millions of drivers slogging their way through the city this sign declared that, despite Yahoo's complete lack of managerial competence, it was still goofy and lovable. After December 2011, not so much.

Interim CEO: Tim Morse
TV shows that outlasted the Yahoo Sign: The Simpsons, South Park, WWE Smackdown

Credit: Archive.org
February 2012

Until earlier this week, this is how Yahoo's home page looked to the world at large – not much different than it looked in the Bartz era, though with a little more video on the page along with links to Twitter and Facebook. Instead of changing its design, Yahoo decided to play musical chairs in the C Suite, running through some five CEOs in five years. This was topped by the four-month reign of former PayPal honcho Scott Thompson, who was forced out in May 2012 after he apparently fudged his resume and replaced on an interim basis by executive Ross Levinsohn.

CEO: Scott Thompson  Ross Levinsohn
Number of Republican candidates still running for president in February 2012: 4

Credit: Yahoo.com
February 20, 2013

Meet the new Yahoo. If it's not the same as the old Yahoo, it's pretty darned close. The first home page refresh in the Marissa Mayer era doesn't change all that much, though it adds some personalization features based on your Facebook Likes, as well as an infinitely scrolling list of news stories. Say what you will about Yahoo's 347 previous home page designs, at least they all ended eventually.

CEO: Marissa “No longer rhymes with Google” Mayer
Number of Web surfers who will see this every time they open their browser this month: 165 million