An Ode to the White House Website, Circa 1995


Such simplicity. Such old-timey charm. Such HTML.

The original White House website—which has, blessedly, been preserved for posterity by the National Archives—is a time capsule from the early days of the World Wide Web.

"Twenty years ago today the first White House web site appeared, and several updated versions of the site followed, establishing the online presence of the 'Gateway to Government,' " The White House Historical Society wrote on its Facebook page Tuesday.

"At that time, only about 10 percent of people in the United States had access to the Internet, but the number of visitors to the White House website more than tripled each year of the Clinton administration."

The website is chock-full of Easter eggs: an audio clip of Socks the cat meowing, a tiny pixelated photo of Clinton playing the saxophone at his own Inaugural Ball, a presidential biography that wouldn't sound out of place in a children's picture book.

If you want to explore the more substantive corners of White House 1.0, gaze upon the simple,plain-text rendering of Clinton's remarks to the University of Texas, or this graphics-free bulleted list outlining his plan to address the management of federal forests.

Best of all may be then-first lady Hillary Clinton's own home page, which included an audio welcome message to visitors.

"Hello, I'm Hillary Rodham Clinton and I want to welcome you to my Internet homepage," she intones. "Please be sure to sign the guestbook and let us know what you think about this service."

Vice President Al Gore had a similar landing page for savvy Internet users.

"Hi, welcome to my Internet homepage," Gore, the inventor of the medium, says. "I hope you find the information useful and informative. Electronic communication like this is of course changing the way we communicate, work and learn."

Oh, to return to those halcyon days before CSS and social-media widgets, before the White House website was clogged with Facebook, Twitter Google+, Foursquare, LinkedIn, live streams, online chats, Reddit AMAs, photo galleries, podcasts, and sundry "shareables."

Of course, what's old is new, so pretty soon you may find yourself reminiscing to a lapful of startled grandchildren about the days before the White House was on Vine.

(Image via Vacclav/