Something else we also tend to forget is that in 1998 the mere act of writing HTML was an overpriced and highly sought after skill in the hands of a very few. These days anyone from a child to a great grand parent can author a webpage without thinking about it by using Facebook.
In the good old days, (1998), no one used Java on the server side. Java Applets were still not dead, and Java on the server was still not really born.
Apache SSI and perl were kings. AOLServer+tcl was probably the best available (though only known and used by a small group).
Java? We're not talking about the same 1998
I think Matt's Script Archive was the face of that popularity. It still exists today http://www.scriptarchive.com/