Trying to locate the top ten Web sites of 1999 is like trying to locate the top ten jokes of 1999. You're bound to forget more than you remember when it comes time to compile a list of your favorites. So it's entirely possible that I've overlooked a few gems while compiling my top ten Web sites of 1999. (If you want to bring to my attention any glaring omissions, why not e-mail me and let me know?)


When this site finally became viewable in late 1999, you could almost hear the collective sound of many chins dropping to the ground in amazement. Britannica is trying to recapture online ground lost to Microsoft's Encarta, and let's just say it's off to a good start. This site allows free and full access to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, as well as thousands of hand-selected Web sites reviewed by EB editors. Enough said. (Honorable mention:


For sheer breath of global news, can't be beat. It offers in-depth coverage of major news stories and the news that usually doesn't make the cut on your nightly newscast. has a clean design and intuitive interface that offers more than enough information to satisfy the most rabid news junkie. You can even search for news by country and language. (Honorable mention: BBC News.)


This is a site I wished had existed when I was a kid. At, you can learn how to do things like giftwrap a present, repair a scratched CD, and even negotiate a raise. Just make sure your boss doesn't know about the site, too. (Honorable mention: How Stuff Works.)

4. Google

Google is a search engine that has emerged, like Yahoo!, from the fertile soil of Stanford University. What makes it stand out is that the top sites it returns are those most visited by other folks who did the same search. Google makes their sweat and toil work for you. (Honorable mention: FAST Search.)

5. Arts & Letters Daily

If you love Books & Culture, Arts & Letters Daily will be right up your alley. The site pulls together articles on literature, philosophy, history, music, and more into a format that makes it look like a daily newspaper. For all those who'd like to read Lingua Franca (which recently purchased the site), Forbes, and The Atlantic Monthly, but never seem to have the time or money, this site may just help you save your reputation. (Honorable mention: The Atlantic Monthly.)

6. The Exploratorium

Since 1993, San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts has hosted The Exploratorium. It has since grown into "a collage of 650 science, art, and human perception exhibits," as the site says. It offers 10,000 searchable pages of Webcasts, hands-on activities, and digital exhibits that creatively teach you the science you were supposed to learn in high school. Start with the exhibit on the science of baseball and you'll be hooked. (Honorable mention: NASA.)

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If you buy books, music, or movies on the Web, you need This site compares the prices of any given book, CD, or movie from dozens of online stores. It also factors in shipping and tax. There are other similar services on the Web, but this one is the easiest and most comprehensive. (Honorable mention:

8. Newslinx

The design of this site won't win any awards, but for a quick overview of the day's technology news, it can't be beat. Newslinx continually collects tech stories from newspapers and magazines around the world and puts them together as a list of linked article titles. If you like your tech news without the spin, Newslinx is a solid choice. (Honorable mention: NewsHub Tech-PR News.)

9. Artigen Cool Sites

The Web changes daily, and if you're like me, you want to know what new sites have gone live while you slept. If so, look no further than Artigen Cool Sites. It brings together new and noteworthy Web site selections from USA Today, Netscape, Yahoo! Internet Life, and more. (Honorable mention: USA Today Hot Sites.)

10. Dave's Video Game Classics

This site is Generation X heaven. If you're old or young enough to love and remember the Atari 2600, Commodore 64, and the original Nintendo, plan on spending a lot of time on this site. Here you'll find free online versions of all your beloved classics, including Lunar Rescue, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Xevious, and Mario Bros. Just remember to eat every few hours.

(Honorable Mention: Magnetic Poetry.)Bottom Feeders

1. Unclaimed Baggage

I'm as much of a capitalist as the next guy, but this site goes a little too far for me. It offers items ("lost treasures," the site insists) that were found in—you guessed it—unclaimed baggage. A recent message on the site offers this tantalizing news: "Someone cleaned up … A perfectly ordinary soap on a rope was purchased by a shopper at Unclaimed Baggage who later discovered it had been hollowed out and filled with cash." Tempting as that sounds, I think I'll keep buying my soap at the grocery store.

2. How Bored Are You? Game

You'd really have to be pretty bored to visit this site. The "game" (if you can call it that) simply amounts to refreshing the screen every ten seconds and telling you how long you've been watching. May I suggest reading a book? Matt Donnellyis the assistant editor of Christianity Online magazine.

Related Elsewhere

For a second opinion, read today's other article on the top Internet sites of 1999, by Ted Olsen

Last week, we took a look at the best books, TV, music, and films of 1999.