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Before Netscape, before Amazon, before Yahoo!...
Previous Matterform Web sites

Our first Web site went online in 1994, the year of the commercial internet. Unfortunately, we don’t have a color screenshot handy any more (it’s probably on an old Syquest disk in the closet). It really was in full color (we’re not that old!) with blue as the dominant color.

Though it looks a little ridiculous today, this site was quite innovative in its day. It went online when there were fewer than 500 web sites in the world. This site was published long before:

  • Netscape
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • SSL secured Web pages
  • Tables, image alignment, fonts, font colors
  • 56K Modems
  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Yahoo! (In fact, we are among the few who can remember than the name Yahoo! is an acronym!)

Our site was literally one of the first Web sites to feature navigational buttons at the top of every page. Unusual for its day, it felt like a site rather than a collection of pages. The site was designed before tables and CSS made complex layouts possible. The navigational buttons were placed next to the Matterform logo and pushed over with a long white GIF image (this was before transparent GIFs too).

Browsers in that day always placed a 2-pixel blue border around every linked picture. Therefore, the site was designed in blue with a gradient blue fade around the navigational buttons. That way, the required blue border became part of the design, rather than a distraction. And our site remains blue to this day.

Our site was also one of the very first ecommerce Web sites and one of the first to distribute unlockable demo software, just like we do today. Our first product was the HTML Grinder. We also briefly published the Cylinder Toolkit, which was a non-Web-based hypertext authoring system that we created in 1992, two years before the birth of the commercial internet. Our first site also introduced QBullets, an interface concept originally introduced in the Cylinder Toolkit and adapted in 1994 to the Web.

The browser shown in this screenshot was MacWeb, if I remember correctly. It was the Web’s Avis to Mosaic’s Hertz. Of course, no one has heard of it today.

In 1995, we created an ecommerce Web site for a jewelry company that offered online ordering. The back-end database was Hypercard! As far as we have been able to determine, this jewelry site was the very first Web site in the world to use the interface known today as a “shopping cart.” Today we still manage a Web site for this customer, Nina Designs, but now we use Voltaire!

Other designs

1997 – 20012002 – 2005

The Wayback Machine has records of many of our old Web sites

More info about Matterform’s history on our Web development site