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The website – then and now

Published on 9/15/2016 by
Orbit Computermesse 1999

In 1996, the internet was completely new territory for most people, but the MCH Group  – still Messe Basel at the time – was already present in the web. Do you remember what the website looked like 20 years ago? We will show you how things have developed from the start of the 1990s up until the present.   

If people want to find out something about a company today, then the internet is the first port of call for many. After all, you only have to go to the PC in the study or, if you're lucky, a laptop will be lying on the table next to you. And even on the move, all you have to do to access the internet is to reach into your pocket for your smartphone. The situation was somewhat different 20 years ago: back then, the first computers suitable for society at large had only been on the market for a few years and cost a small fortune. It was in 1993 that the MCH Group purchased its first computers, with each one costing the princely sum of CHF 20,000 or more.  A PC was thus out of the financial reach of the average family back then, and, in the light of its development status, would also not have been of any real benefit for private use. 

At around this time, however – or to be more precise, on 13 November 1990 – the situation underwent a fundamental change when the first website was switched live, and a good three years later the "world wide web" was declared open for everyone.  In the years that followed, familiarity with the internet and the use of the web grew at a tremendous pace. In 1993, it is estimated that only one percent of the global flow of information went via the internet. In 2000, the figure had reached 51% already and, by 2007, the internet had clearly taken on the lead as the most-used means of communication in the world, at 97%. The internet also gained increasing importance for companies like the MCH Group during this time.

The move into the digitised world

When the first website of the MCH Group (which was still Messe Basel at the time) was switched live in 1996, it was still nothing more than a virtual showcase.  Although a certain amount of information was provided for visitors and exhibitors, that was the full extent of the content. And the site was still very modest in terms of layout too. The landing page had a white background, very little text and four pictures for Event, Messe Basel, Media and Search (see picture below). At that time, there were very few web editors, and animated elements were generally created with proprietary add-ons, which also meant that they would not work with all the different browsers anyway. HTML – the "language" in which websites are written –had not, at that stage, been developed far enough to create more elaborate pages.

From paper to e-paper

HTML did, however, proceed to develop relatively rapidly. This not only opened up far more possibilities for the design of a website (which then became more complex), it also allowed the development of completely new market sectors and communication channels.  The growing popularity of websites changed a great deal in matters of advertising – in the case of Messe Basel too. While, previously, advertising had been conducted in the form of physical products, such as flyers, posters and brochures, a considerable portion of the MCH Group's marketing activities today run via its websites and the associated (social) communication channels.  Documents such as plans and fact sheets, in particular, which involve high quantities of data, have now been transferred almost entirely into the internet. But printed matter is far from having been eliminated completely, because information material is still published in physical form today to supplement the websites.   The internet –  and hence also the websites – have developed from their initially "useless" status into a virtually indispensable everyday instrument.  The MCH Group has also adapted to this trend over the years. Starting out with just one website in 1996, it now has more than 50, with visitor numbers increasing from just a few hundred to several million over the past 20 years. It remains to be seen whether, how and, above all, to what extent this key medium will continue to develop. We can, however, be certain that a number of interesting developments are in store for us over the next few years.

Website Messe Schweiz 1996

First Website of Messe Basel in 1996.


Website Messe Schweiz 2000

Website Messe Basel in 2000.



Website Messe Schweiz 2007

Website Messe Basel in 2007.

Website MCH Group in 2016.

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