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On AngelFire, a 15-year-old Mark Zuckerberg might have been working through early Facebook prototypes

A screenshot of what appears to be Mark Zuckerberg’s early AngelFire site, which included a simple web application that would be echoed years later in in Facebook’s social graph.
A screenshot of what appears to be Mark Zuckerberg’s early AngelFire site, which included a simple web application that would be echoed years later in in Facebook’s social graph.Credit: AngelFire

Internet sleuths appear to have dug up the early online home of Mark Zuckerberg, created when the Facebook founder was 15 and showcasing the Harvard dropout’s early programming chops and GPA obsession.

I stumbled upon the retro-looking AngelFire site via a Tweet from Justin Yu.

The Internet Archive seems to back up the page as the real thing, with captures going back to 1999, well before Facebook, ConnectU, and even their infamous antecedent Facemash. The latter is the the Harvard student hot-or-not app that got Zuckerberg hauled before a disciplinary committee and was immortalized in the movie The Social Network.

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The AngelFire site largely hasn’t aged well and reflects a 15-year-old’s sensibilities: A version of Pong had paddles but no ball for me, or else the ball was too speedy to spot. On Chrome on Mac, almost nothing worked since Java was the code of choice, and it’s often blocked as a security risk these days.

On the About Me page, Mark is playful.

“Hi, my name is...Slim Shady. No, really, my name is Slim Shady,” he writes. “Just kidding, my name is Mark (for those of you that don’t know me) and I live in a small town near the massive city of New York. I am currently 15 years old and I just finished freshman year in high school.”

Playing around with security settings and plug-ins, I was able to get his page “The Web” to work, and young Zuckerberg was already showcasing some of the social graph ideas that would make him one of the world’s richest people and one of the web’s most powerful.

Introducing the app, which displays a simple social graph of linked names that Zuckerberg manually created, he expresses his aspirations for the still fledgling web.

“As of now, the web is pretty small. Hopefully, it will grow into a larger web,” he wrote. “If your name is already on The Web because someone else has chosen to be linked to you, then you may choose two additional people to be linked with. Otherwise, if you see someone who you know and would like to be linked with but your name is not already on The Web, then you can contact me and I will link that person to you and put you on The Web.”

When I fired The Web up, only one name — Mark — was actually visible. Fourteen years later, he’s still the the most visible face of the world’s largest social network.

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