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Back To The 20th Century
By Joe Wood

This edition of Cyber*Kool originally was featured in the Winter 2001 issue of ATOMIC Magazine.

Now that the 20th century is officially closed, we can take a tour of modern history on the big bus called the Internet. The Net was possibly the greatest invention of the last century, and yet finding quality history sites proves a little more difficult than one might imagine. Perhaps a modern history Website is not what the average venture capitalist has in mind. As a result, it seems the only people concerned with bringing history to the World Wide Web are university students working for a grade, of television broadcasters looking to make a buck. Still, there are still some good cyberspots for expanding your knowledge of the last century and brushing up on 20th Century trivia—here's where you should look.

PBS: People's Century 1900-1999
PBS created this site as the companion guide to their 26-part television series first broadcast in 1998. Both the series and site at times focus heavily on the political and nationalist dramas that plagued the world throughout most of the century. Looking back in time through this site, one appreciates how brutal the 1900s really were.

The site's timeline begins with the great hope and optimism that marked the century's beginning. Then we are presented with several great accomplishments and failures, lots of war and racial injustice. We see in pictures and text the rise and fall of Fascism and Communism, the excesses of the '80s and the technology boom of the '90s.

But People's Century isn't all about the dark side of the last 100 years. PBS also takes the viewer through the triumph of sports, the allure of Hollywood and the century's best movies. Embedded throughout are RealAudio snippets from the series and useful links.

About.com's 20th Century History
After scrutinizing several sites, I preferred about.com's presentation of the century over the other offerings on the Net. For one thing, they weren't trying to sell me an accompanying book or videotape. In addition, the history presented on the main page relates to the date on which you are visiting the site. Feature stories change weekly and are accompanied by a timeline of the century and a weekly five-question quiz.

All in all, about.com's Editor Jennifer Rosenberg (no relation to ATOMIC's Editor-in-Chief) has compiled a well designed and useful site that can satisfy any of your historical needs pertaining to the last century. From pop culture to works of art, the site covers movers and shakers worldwide and includes a photo gallery. If you're a budding history buff or have that nagging paper to write, point your browser to this site first.

History Channel.com
When the History Channel premiered on television a few years ago, many referred to this A&E offshoot as "The War channel." No one has been able to focus on and dissect the World War I ear better. Not the channel's American history expertise is available online. Granted, every page is trying to market another video package, but the information is well written and covers each subject in detail. The site;s search engine lets you seek historical data that happened on any day of the year, covering not just the past century but also The Civil War, The Cold War, Crime history, Literary history and even Automotive History. This site is a vast undertaking and it should be elevated to "text book" status. Everything you want to know is here.

Biography.com
Part of the A&E Network, The Biography Channel focuses on the lives of the people who shaped our history, from politicians to Hollywood stars. As a supplement to its television counterpart, you can dig u the biography of almost and famous person living or dead on the channel's Website. But the emphasis is on "almost." I did a search on both Mel Blanc and Louis Prima and came up with nothing—yet, 15-year-old Frankie Muniz of Fox's Malcolm in the Middle is profiled, as is Alfred Hitchcock. You take what you can get.

It Seems Like Yesterday
Brought to you by Canada's History Television Channel, this site provides a companion overview of the baby boomer era and atomic age programs that ran in Canada. Although it's not the best design for navigation, once you make your way to the content page, a world of history opens up that included feature articles, crosswords, e-cards, discussion boards and factoids. Pleasant retro imagery spread across the site adds a nice visual element.

20th: The Passing Of A Century
Geared toward students, this site offers brief write-ups on major historical events of the 20th Century that would appeal to anyone wanting to brush up on recent history. Themes include the changing face of war, the evolution of mass media, societies in transit, great people of the century, and transportation. There's also a chronicle of landmark events and interesting trivia, as well as a section about life at the turn of the last century, which lets you see just how much happens in 100 years. With interactive games, quizzes, photo galleries and more, this site is both entertaining and educational.

Bulbo
Okay, it's not technically a history site, but it's pretty nifty. Inspired by the cartoon characters from the 1930s, Bulbo looks a bit like a buck-toothed, one-eared Mickey Mouse on uppers. The Flash-animated Website presents six film shorts, one of which is Bulbo's walk through the 20th Century. This one-minute, comical tour covers the most memorable moments of the last hundred years, and serves as a humorous dose of history for the academically impaired.

North Harris Montgomery County Community College
This Houston, Texas, college has compiled what I consider one of the best history Website by an educational institution. This site provides all sorts of details from each decade, from the period's population and relative price index to the music and lifestyles. It may not be the most beautiful site on the Internet, but it easily makes up for it in content.

 


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