An “Internet Road Map” published by MacUser in 1996

Jason Snell & Shelly Brisbin, editors / Geoff Duncan, Net surfer[!] / Diane Dempsey, design / K. Daniel Clark, illustration, Internet ROAD MAP. New York: Ziff-Davis Publishing, 1996.
Two-sided poster printed in color halftone, 24 ¾””h x 37 ¾”w at sheet edge. Folds as issued, some very minor wear. About excellent.

A 1996 “road map” using a cartographic metaphor to explain content available on the Internet, provided as a bonus for purchasers of MacUser magazine and with a decided emphasis on the Apple ecosystem.

This was one of several such “maps” issued by MacUser in the mid-1990s, inspired by a series of similar posters designed by Timothy Edward Downs and published in PC Computing beginning in 1994 (Both periodicals were owned by New York publisher Ziff-Davis, which must have facilitated MacUser’s re-use of the “map” concept for representing internet content.) First published in 1985, MacUser was a general-interest magazine for Macintosh users, featuring both technical columns and product reviews, often with a more humorous editorial voice than other computer-related publications of the time. MacUser also issued a map of “Planet Internet” (1996), while PC Computing maps by Downs may be viewed here, here and here.

The Internet Road Map uses divisions of space as a cartographic metaphor for types of content, the poster features six major “Zones”, each shaded a different color: “Government Information”, “Education and Reference”, “Internet Reference”, “Arts and Humanities”, “Business and Commerce”, and “Macintosh Resources”.

“The Internet Road Map is divided into six zones representing six subject categories. At the heart of each zone is one large site that contains lots of information and links to other related sites. You can follow the hierarchy on the map to reach sites that interest you or explore on your own…. Different colors and sizes on the map represent our estimation of a given site’s importance.”

Each site on the map is accompanied by its URL, and most have a brief description of the site’s content. The various sites are connected by networks of red and black lines, resembling roads if you don’t look too closely. Just as on a road map, the borders provide an alphanumeric key, linked to an index on the reverse side, enabling viewers to locate particular sites.

As mentioned just above, the reverse side contains an index of hundreds of web sites that can be found on the map, a how-to guide to “Connecting to the Internet”, a chart explaining the “Anatomy of a URL”, and large adverts for a number of tech firms, several of which no longer exist.

This map, and others like it, were issued for only a very short time, as they were rendered obsolete by would-be surfers’ uptake of early search engines such as Lycos, Yahoo! Search, and Altavista. Rather than navigating to “one large site” and using it as a directory to locate the site they actually wanted, search engines enabled (and still enable) users simply to enter their target or topic in a search bar and receive more-or-less instant results.

In all, a scarce and unusual image of the internet in its early days of development. 

OCLC 495928237, giving a holding only at the Library of Congress as of Sept. 2022 June 2022 (This is dated 1995, suggested that ours may be a 2nd edition of the map). Rumsey #12349.03.