After fifteen years of midi and animated gif-infused personal webpages, Yahoo has quietly decided to shut down all new registrations on its GeoCities free hosting service. Existing customers will still be able to access their accounts, but should receive further instructions on how to save them from extinction later this year – possibly by upgrading to a separate paid Yahoo service.

Once a pioneer in the free web hosting world, GeoCities gave users easy to use personal publishing tools and created “neighborhoods” within its web platform for users to place their pages according to their content (i.e. computer-related sites were placed in “SiliconValley”). The company went public in 1998 with an initial per-share price of $17, which rapidly rose to a peak of over $100, and was acquired by Yahoo near the burst of the dot com bubble in 1999 for around $3 billion. They did pretty much nothing with it, however, other than firing off most of its staff and causing users to flee en masse due a controversial update to the terms of service.

To some degree, GeoCities did help popularize personal publishing on the web before anyone knew anything about blogs and social networking sites. I wish I could remember the URL of my GeoCities page just for an old times’ sake nostalgia trip – if you remember yours, though, feel free to share!