The Last Page of the Internet

The Last Page of the Internet

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Updated Aug 18, 2012 at 09:55AM EDT by Brad.

Added Jun 06, 2010 at 07:33AM EDT by Inspector Javert.

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About

The Last Page of the Internet refers to various websites purported as the final page of the Internet. Similar to many other single serving sites, such websites often carry minimalist design, accompanied by almost no graphics and instructional displays like “Now turn off your computer” and “Go outside.”



In similar vein to You Win the Internet! and The Final Boss of the Internet , The Last Page of the Internet can be seen as an absurdist parody of our own understanding that online experiences never quite “end” at any certain point.

Origin

Various personal accounts and Google search results reveal that jokes about “the last page of the Internet” have been around since the late 90s, hosted on various personal / business / academic websites, discussion boards and e-mail. Tracing it through Google search shows that this phenomenon was firmly established by early 1998, making a 1997 origin plausible, although it is not certain.

Early Instances

  • The first webpage from December 19th, 1998, is a personal political site, containing a link to “http://www.internetlastpage.com/”.
  • The second, dated January 1st, 1998, is the oldest. It’s another personal political site and the root of the site is still updated as a blog. It links to “http://www.wackycreations.com/lastpage.html”, which is now defunct. Unfortunately, the site cannot be viewed with The Wayback Machine because the owner has blocked crawlers. A Google search for the site reveals that the same link has been making rounds on the Internet at least since 2000 up until 2004.
  • The third, dated September 22nd, 1999 is the most recent, and belongs to the British Broadcasting Corporation. This page is clearly amateurish, and is called a “Personal Space” as part of the British Broadcasting Corporation‘s online encyclopedia The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The link to the meme cannot be found.
  • The fourth, dated May 12th, 1998, is German. It died with its host, Yahoo! Geocities. The cache reveals that the webpage belonged to a radio enthusiast. “The Last Page of the Internet” linked to a now defunct webpage at “http://de.geocities.com/dl6mda/lastpage.html” which can be viewed with the Wayback Machine .

Search for the Origin

By the early 2000s, many early versions of this meme ceased to exist, but “The Last Page of the Internet” continued getting picked up and re-registered in other domain names.

On April 9th, 2001, Dennis G. Jerz[1] of Seton Hill University posted a research article titled Last Page of the Internet with (now-defunct) links to several example pages dating back to early 2000. This post was "featured in a the “Operator No. 9” column of Interactive Week Magazine, June 4, 2001 (Vol.8 No.22 )", according to the author.

However, in his post, Dennis G. Jerz notes that T. R. Halvorson[2], author, lawyer, programmer, and president of Pastel Programming Corporation, had taken notice of this phenomenon earlier on a forum called Law-Lib on February 16th, 2000. Dennis G. Jerz provides a link to the Law-Lib archive [3]. The Law-Lib archive contains discussions going back to as early as January 1992.

The February 2000 threads contains this discussion called ‘the last page of the internet ;)’ between T. R. Halvorson and Rita Bronnenkant and this reply called ‘RE:the last page of the internet ;)’ by Sean Smith.

In a reply to the discussion called ‘RE:the last page of the internet ;)’, Sean Smith, of Leydig, Voit & Mayer, Ltd., a law firm that deals with intellectual property, says that he first received a link to a webpage concerning the meme on October 7th, 1998. The link is “http://www.opaldata.net/the_end/index.html”, which is now defunct. However, www.OpalData.net is still active as a provider of technology to Rhode Island municipalities, and has been at least since 2004, according to the Wayback Machine.

In ‘the last page of the internet ;)’ discussion on February 16th, 2000, T. R. Halvorson shows Rita Bronnenkant several links to variations of this meme, of which, all but one are now defunct, asking her which is the original source as part of his “never-ending quest for the authenticity of documents and information found on the Internet”. With her legal expertise, Rita Bronnenkant replies that several of these sites hold a copyright from Darrin Maule[4], though it cannot be said whether he is the creator of this meme.



Spread

www.wwwdotcom.com

“www.wwwdotcom.com” is a popular host of this meme. As of July 4th, 2010, a Google search for the query “The Last Page of the Internet” returns “www.wwwdotcom.com” as the second item . The name of the website is a pun on the “www” and “.com” portions of the URL.

According to Alexa, “www.wwwdotcom.com” has been online since August 29th, 1995. The search engine preview on DomainTools shows that at some point in time, there was text on the website which said:

Attention:

You have reached the very last page of the Internet.

We hope you have enjoyed your browsing.

Now turn off your computer and go outside.

The Wayback Machine archives the site to August 11th, 1997. It initially appeared as an e-commerce site called Rendezvous. By May 2nd, 2000, it changed to another e-commerce site called Hutchins & Associates. The name likely refers to the registrant, Arthur Hutchins. By December 13th, 2000, the website simply redirected to “www.Hutchins.com”, which is currently blank. The Wayback Machine shows that “www.Hutchins.com” had been in service since June 24th, 1997 as a website for Hutchins and Associates. By September 28th, 2002, “www.wwwdotcom.com” took on the appearance that it currently has.

http://home.att.net/~cecw/lastpage.htm

Though now defunct, Dennis G. Jerz noted that on April 9, 2001, the “http://home.att.net/” host ranked second on Google Search results for the query “The Last Page of the Internet”. “http://att.net/” belongs to at&t and Yahoo! as a web services and news aggregation site, after being converted from a web portal in 2008. At one point during its history, a “Personal Web Page” service similar to Geocities was offered.
Neither Alexa or DomainTools has any useful information about this site.

http://home.att.net/~cecw/lastpage.htm was established at least by Feb 29, 2000 and lasted until February 26th, 2008. The webpage had a white background, displaying the following text:

Attention, please

You have reached the very last page of the Internet.

We hope you have enjoyed your browsing.

Enjoy the rest of your life.

Bombscare and IRC Chat

A popular quotation from Internet Relay Chat, archived by Bash.org, is somewhat similar to this meme. Around 2002, a user named “Bombscare” had said this,

BombScare: i beat the internet

BombScare: the end guy is hard

These remarks also bear a resemblance to “The Final Boss of the Internet” meme.

References in Google Reader

Google Reader features this meme. If one clicks “Next” until no items are present, Google Reader displays this message,

Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of this internet. Look for another?

“Look for another” links to the Wikipedia article for ‘Interplanetary Internet’.

An earlier version of Google Reader displayed this text instead,

Congratulations, you have reached the End of the Internet.

“End of the Internet” linked to a now defunct site. The website’s abandonment may have served as a reason for changing the text. The defunct link mentioned on the left once displayed this message on the right.



Derivatives

Other variations of this meme include “The Second to Last Page of the Internet”, “The First Page of the Internet”, and 404 error parodies. However, most variations are merely aesthetic.

Current Status

Unlike other internet memes rooted in Web 1.0, the minimalism of the “The Last Page of the Internet” has proven itself a constant, universal appeal from its initial founding to the newest generation of single-serving sites. “The Last Page of the Internet” also bears a resemblance to newer memes that parody the concept of the Internet, such as You Win The Internet!, Internets, “Final Boss of the Internet”, and Series of Tubes.

“The Last Page of the Internet” still enjoys popularity from reblogs on social networking sites like Reddit and sarcastic replies from commentators in forums, resulting in sporadic bursts of interest. Production of this meme has ceased in the early 2000s, though some existing websites dedicated to this meme have been maintained for over a decade.

Notes

[1]Dennis G. Jerz’s website was created in 1998 and continues to be frequently updated. The older, Web 1.0, portions of his website are stereotypical of academic websites of the time and in stark contrast with the newer, Web 2.0 portions. On June 7th, 2010, Dennis G. Jerz discussed this KnowYourMeme article on his blog.

[2]T.R. Halvorson is a self-described “Lawyer, Programmer, Researcher, and Consultant” and president of the Pastel Programming Corporation. He is an author of a book called Law of the Super Searchers: the Online Secrets of Top Legal Researchers, edited by Reva Basch and published in 1998. He also wrote How to Avoid Liability: The Information Professional’s Guide to Negligence and Warranty Risks, and Legal Liability Problems in Cyberspace: Craters in the Information Highway. He maintains a presence on Twitter, Amazon, and Facebook.

[3]The Law-Lib Archive is an archive of discussion threads maintained by the UC Davis School of Law, and contains discussions dating from January, 1992. Subjects of talk ranges from serious legal matters to stray miscellaneous threads to mass forwarded e-mails. An FAQ was compiled for Law-Lib, hosted by the University of Mississippi. The list of threads in February, 2000 is here, while the specific discussion between T.R. Halvorson and Rita Bronnenkant is here, and Sean Smith’s reply is here.

[4]Darrin Maule of Gaithersburg, MD who may work for wabsworks and Who Built That Site? maintains Facebook, Digg, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. He often uses the pseudonym “Dmaule” online.

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