Founded in 1994, GeoCities gave users free real estate on the World Wide Web on which to create their own personal Web presences. Each user was allotted 6 Megabytes of space in the beginning (15 Megabytes in later days), and the company raised revenue via advertisements scattered throughout the pages. There are many fond (and horrific) memories of this once sprawling landscape of bad 1990s Web design perpetuated by its mostly amateur users. And these land metaphors are not for nothing, since GeoCitieswas themed as a virtual city grouped into neighborhoods built around various topics, like entertainment, arts, sports or fashion, to name a few. At its peak, GeoCities had around 35 million users and was the third most-visited site on the Web. In a way, it was the closest thing we had back then to the blogging and social networking sites of today. In what was possibly a case of dot-com overvaluation, Yahoo purchased GeoCities for $3.6 billion in January 1999 [sources: CNN Money, Goldman, Schroeder].
GeoCities' decline was more of a slow fizzle than a swift crash, however. The site trudged along for a decade, but declined in popularity due to growing competition from newer, more user-friendly free hosting, blogging and social networking sites that developed over the years. Yahoo decided to discontinue the service, encouraged remaining users to move to one of its paid Web hosting services, and deleted all GeoCities hosted sites in 2009. Thankfully, some kind souls calling themselves the Archive Team saved a 650 Gigabyte copy of a good many of the GeoCities sites for historical purposes before the shutdown. Some other groups made similar efforts, and you can still peruse a lot of the old pages today.