Where The Internet Watched Videos Pre-YouTube
Albino Blacksheep is member submitted Flash animation website created by Steven Lerner. According to Lerner the name for the website is an oxymoron. There cannot be an albino black sheep because then the sheep would not be black. He also named it that to refer the site as an “outcast” on the internet. Lerner founded the website on January 4th, 1999 in Toronto, the capital city of the providence Ontario in Canada. While the Flash animation videos were some of the most popular content on the website, Albino Blacksheep also had image galleries, audio, and text files. There was even a mobile section that provided wallpaper, screensavers and ringtones. Lerner originally started the site to promote his band, also named Albino Blacksheep.
Albino Blacksheep took off in popularity in 2003 when Lerner pulled a classic internet prank known as a “google bomb.” A Google bomb is where someone manipulates Google’s algorithm into making a certain website the most searched for result on the platform. In this case, when someone typed “French Military Victories” into google then Albino Blacksheep would pop up. The joke was poking fun at France’s military record. After the prank, until 2006, the website received 1.50 million page views a day. A huge part of their success, and why people stayed there, was that Albino Blacksheep was a major portal for Flash Animation, which was extremely popular on the internet in those days. Many viral videos, before YouTube was even around, were found on Albino Blacksheep.
Homestar Runner is a comedy web series created by Mike and Matt Chapman, featuring many whacky characters, produced entirely through Flash animation. The conception of the idea came from Mike and his friend Craig (who also co-founded the website) wrote and illustrated a children’s book as a joke in 1996. It took them all of two hours. They printed a few copies to give to their friends. In 1999, Mike noticed that Flash animation was a growing popular medium and he wanted to get into it. Taking inspiration from the Homestar children’s book, he produced the first Homestar Runner cartoon and launched the website. The website did moderately well but blew up in popularity when The Strong Bad Email series was featured. The website exploded with success, mainly through word of mouth. What people liked about the website is that it never had ads on it, revenue was only generated through merchandise, creating a very large and loyal fan base. The Chapman brothers continued pumping out videos until 2009 when they went on a hiatus until 2014. Since 2014 they still make new videos but not as much, as they both have pursued other ventures in the film industry.
StumbleUpon was founded by Garret Camp, Justin LaFrance, Eric Boyd and Geoff Smith in November 2001 at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. It was a search engine that suggested various web content, like photos, websites and videos to its users. The users also had personal pages like other social media websites where they could rate the content they viewed and recommend it to their peers. After it became very popular they moved their headquarters to San Francisco where angel investors funded it’s continued operation. In 2007, StumbleUpon was bought by Ebay for 75 million dollars but 2 years later the creators bought it back. On June 30th, 2018 StumbleUpon shut down its services.
College Humor is a comedy website launched in 1999 by Josh Abramson and Ricky Van Sheen. The website shows original comedy content produced daily by their production team, as well as articles. Users can alsonsubmit videos, photos and articles to be featured too. Abramson created CollegeHumor to produce different web series to the college age demographic and run ads to pay for it. A lot of their content have won Webbys awards like “Web Site Story”, the “Jake and Amir” series and “Pixar Intro Parody.” It has a sister website title Dorkly which does video game parodies and fandom content.
DISCLAIMER: This video contains swearing. NSFW
eBaum’s World is an entertainment/humor website, launched in 2001 by Eric Bauman (who’s nickname is eBaum) and his father Neil Bauman, in Rochester New York. They website was popular for featuring viral videos, Flash Animations, images and memes. One of the most viral videos to come from eBaum’s World was “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” which was an internet sensation. Also, the G.I. Joe PSA’s were very popular as well. They also had celebrity soundboards that were hilarious to use. eBaum’s World was sold in 2008 to the ZVUE Corporation for 15 million dollars and 2.5 million in stock. It is now owned and operated by Literally Media, who also owns Memebase, Failblog and Know Your Meme.
DISCLAIMER: This video contains swearing. NSFW
Newgrounds is an entertainment/social media website where it hosts user-generated content that can be rated by visitors. It features indie games, art, animation, music, etc. Newgrounds was created in 1995 by Tom Fulp in Pennsylvania. It was a combination of two previous websites Fulp had created. In the beginning many users submitted their own Flash animation videos that were featured on Newgrounds through “The Portal.” After the dot-com bubble, Newgrounds struggled to keep operating until 2003 when the ultra-viral video “Numa Numa” was posted on their website making its debut on the internet. That video alone drove up traffic for the website. Regardless, Newgrounds is still in operation today