Twenty years ago last month, a team of well-meaning designers, coders and magazine publishers inadvertently unleashed on an unsuspecting world one of the most misguided and destructive technologies of the Internet age: the web banner ad. If that is an exaggeration, it is only a slight one. The first banner ads — those long rectangular ads at the top of a web page — looked innocent enough; a half-dozen spots for a variety of large companies, including AT&T, Volvo and Zima, they made their debut on HotWired, the web offshoot of Wired Magazine, on Oct. 27, 1994. People who took part in their creation say the first banners were a resounding success, garnering adulation from readers and advertisers.
viaFall of the Banner Ad: The Monster That Swallowed the Web – NYTimes.com.