A piece of the Internet's history went dark today. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Yahoo has closed down GeoCities, the legendary hosting service that fostered the rise of poorly designed personal web pages, bad animated GIFs, and embedded MIDI music.
Yahoo stopped accepting new registrations for the service "earlier this year," LA Times says, and a visit to GeoCities.com now tells you, "GeoCities is closing on October 26, 2009." The notice page invites users to subscribe to Yahoo's regular hosting service, which costs $4.99 a month for the first 12 months (and $9.95 thereafter).
Yahoo paid a hefty $3 billion for GeoCities in early 1999—$3.8 billion in today's dollars—but the service "stagnated from Day One," according to GeoCities co-founder John Rezner. Nevertheless, pages hosted on the service encompassed a decent chunk of the Internet, and as LA Times points out, it's odd that Yahoo decided not to "keep it around for historical reference and, say, slap ads all over it."
The LA Times article also includes a retrospective on GeoCities's history, how Rezner sought to implement Facebook-like user profiles and a Twitter-like open programming interface after co-founder David Bohnett departed, and how the folks at Archiveteam and Archive.org tried to salvage remnants of the GeoCities community before Yahoo flipped the switch.