In January 2019, it was announced that internet provider XS4ALL would be dissolved. XS4ALL was one of the first internet providers in the Netherlands that people could get a subscription from. Many Dutch internet pioneers therefore built their first home pages through XS4ALL. Many of these early XS4ALL home pages would vanish forever in 2019. The KB's goal is to preserve all that is valuable from our past for future generations, and so we organised a rescue for these unique home pages. That resulted in our web collection of XS4ALL home pages.

What does this project involve?

Home page of user Ranx, juni 1994.

The KB web archiving team created a web collection containing more than 3,000 archived home pages that were built through XS4ALL from 1993 to 2001. The collection contains some the very earliest, most unusual and distinctive home pages in the Netherlands. The web collection also contains 413 home pages that have been designated as prize pieces, as they represent such valuable heritage that they deserve to be individually studied and described. Examples of prize pieces are:

  • the oldest home page, created by user Ranx, which was launched in June 1994.
  • the home page of digital artist Mathilde μP's (''Microprocessor''), on the subject of web art, 1994
  • Liesbet Zikkenheimer's digital studio, one of the first interactive 3D environments on the Dutch web, 1995

The web archiving team ensured that the home pages were preserved as authentically as possible. The also prepared a collection description, providing a detailed explanation of the methods and techniques used to create the home pages, as well as historical background information. Thanks to that, future generations can continue to use the web collection as a reliable source of historical information about the early Dutch web. The project was completed in April 2021.

  • Home page of digital artist Mathilde μP's (''Microprocessor''), on the subject of web art.

Who is the web collection aimed at?

Scientist, student or layman: the web collection is valuable for anyone with an interest in the history of the early Dutch web and those who want to research home pages and web archaeology. 

Who did the KB collaborate with in this project?

Digital workshop of Liesbet Zikkenheimer.

The project was implemented by the KB, with financial support from the SIDN Fund and Stichting Internet4ALL . We also received help from scientists from the University of Groningen and the University of Amsterdam, as well as many internet pioneers, including Marleen Stikker.

We also entered into a scientific collaboration with the Department of Media Studies of the University of Groningen. Led by Prof Susan Aasman, professor of digital humanities, scientists and students researched personal home pages on the web. This proved to be a profitable collaboration between the scientific sector and the KB: the university was able to identify what was worth preserving, while the KB was able to determine the best techniques for the examination of the websites.

International cooperation for the rescue of Belgian heritage

The project ultimately led to international cooperation between the KB, the Royal Library of Belgium and the University of Ghent. During the project, we unexpectedly found 124 Belgian home pages in the Dutch web domain that were hosted by XS4ALL Belgium until 2003.

Because of the special nature of these home pages, we mapped and archived them. We did so because web archiving has yet to start in Belgium, and this unique Belgian heritage would otherwise have been lost. Furthermore, this migration of such a collection of home pages from one national web domain to another is (to the best of our knowledge) a unique event in global history.