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How Meta

Or “How Various Parts of This Site Hold Up in the Past”.

Specifically, how do they hold up in NCSA Mosaic 2.1.1, Netscape Navigator 4.04, Internet Explorer 2 and 5, Opera 3.20, and Opera 10? All but IE2 run on a Windows 98 virtual machine, while IE2 runs directly on my actual Windows 7 installation. Why? Because it can.

Mosaic, Netscape, and Opera 3.20 are the earliest versions I could find that deigned to run. IE2 is something I jokingly copied off an NT ISO, while IE5 came with the Win98 VM if I remember correctly. Opera 10 is the latest version that runs on Win98, and even then I needed KernelEx.

First part I’ll test is the webpage for The Dating Pool, seen here. 23 requests totaling 212 kilobytes. As a retro page that should by all rights make whoever did the Captain Marvel promo page resign in shame, you’d expect good results. And indeed:

Every single one of them renders it adequately well, with no missing parts.

Next up is the index page for the local copy of all my Ranma ½ fanfics, seen here. Six requests, 33 kilobytes. This too is very much a retro page so I have high hopes.

Everything is awesome. But now we get a little crazy. We open this very blog. 31 requests, 302 kilobytes. A blog that’s UTF-8 encoded and is full of CSS, Javascript, and (*gasp*) PNG. There’s no way this can go right.

…About as I’d expected. Mosaic didn’t know what to do with the page’s content type and crashed in the attempt. Netscape 4 already had PNG support so that’s nice but no styling at all and a fair bit of JS errors to dismiss. IE2 doesn’t know what a CSS is, nor a PNG if you were to scroll down. IE5 manages nicely, putting the sidebar on the bottom as you would expect from a floating element in a broken box model but also doesn’t do any scrolling — I had to select and drag to check the rest! Opera 3.20 is passably readable, not fit to figure out UTF-8 nor PNG. If I’d gone with 3.5 it’d probably look incrementally better with its new CSS support. Opera 10 does it best being the most modern browser on the VM.

(via @plasmarob)

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