Interactive Time Capsule Site Lets Users Visit the Internet Ten Years Ago

It's 2011. Barack Obama is in the White House, The Oprah Winfrey Show ends after 25 years, and kids are grooving to the hip new sounds of LMFAO and Foster the People.

Seem like forever ago? Imagine how much the digital space has changed since then too. Ten Years Ago is an interactive website that allows users to browse popular websites, frozen in time from a decade ago to the date.

The site displays pages including Reddit, YouTube and Amazon, with easy and direct access to explore what they looked like ten years back. Media publications including BBC and The New York Times make for easy perusing of what the world was talking about too.

Neal Agarwal, the developer behind Ten Years Ago, described the site as "a window to the past" to Newsweek, saying: "I wanted the site to be like a little window to the past, and so I tried to pick a good variety of sites - news, sports, entertainment, ect. I think the variety of sites helps people better remember conversations/topics that dominated the internet a decade ago."

Amazon in 2011 shows Angry Birds as a popular item, while the Apple site tells customers: "Finally. The amazing iPhone 4." The tech giant is now onto the iPhone 12, with the 4 seeming not so "amazing" in comparison.

While the BBC shows top stories including Lindsay Lohan's jail sentencing for the famous necklace theft and Azerbaijan winning the Eurovision Song Contest. The New York Times displayed articles in the wake of Bin Laden's death, a beaming review of 2011 comedy hit Bridesmaids, and even one titled "Facebook has a secret to explain." With Facebook being dropped by numerous companies in 2020, the site may look different but there's certainly some familiarity.

"There's been a surprising amount of discussion about old web design, with tons of people saying they liked how the internet used to look. For me I think the site shows how fast the internet changes - ten years isn't that long but on the internet it's an eternity," Agarwal told Newsweek.

Ten Years Ago
Ten Years Ago website archive shows the internet ten years ago. https://neal.fun/ten-years-ago/. Ten Years Ago

Agarwal's work may be recognized from his other interactive sites which include his "Spend Bill Gates' Money" simulator, which allows users to fully grasp just how wealthy he is by deciding how they would spend, or attempt to spend, all of it.

His "Deep Sea" simulator also allows users to simulate diving to the depths of the ocean and witness what species live in each layer.

Ten Years Ago may have been available online for a few years now, but TikTokers have only recently discovered the site. User @jerrydolan shared the archives to his TikTok account on May 11, and amassed over one million likes at the time of publication. "THE NOSTALGIA," he captioned the video.

YouTube in particular has taken aback the TikTok users, with nostalgic memories of DIY videos on grainy cameras—a stark difference to the monetized, ring light-fuelled platform we know today.

The fascination with a pre-beauty lines and boxing matches YouTube is something Agarwal has noticed too: "I've seen a lot of people looking back at the YouTube homepage and remembering old YouTubers they used to watch as a kid. People have remarked that it's interesting to read old news articles with the knowledge of what happens next, like getting to have an omniscient view for once," he said.

It's 2021 and after the year the world has had, a digital hitchhike back to 2011 can provide a much-needed escape, albeit temporarily.

Reddit ten years ago
Reddit's page is available on Ten Years Ago at https://neal.fun/ten-years-ago/. Ten Years Ago