Nowadays it seems like the Internet has always been around. For many people, grown ups even, it always has! Yet, at the age of 43, I distinctly remember the time before the Internet. But along with that there was the time when the Internet was new. Those were some cool times. Of course, all those ‘new’ things are now old. That’s the way it happens. But, there are times when I miss the old Internet. Here are a few throwbacks that many will remember.
The Dial-Up Tone
The Internet was first accessed over phone lines. You had to connect your computer’s modem to another and establish a connection. This was done with a series of bongs and boops and clicks. It was a pretty cool sound. I was such a geek that I could often tell just by listening to the patterns if I was going to get a good connection or if I’d have to re-dial.
When I Was An Expert
I was pretty computer savvy back in the day. As such, I learned a lot about the Internet before many others did. Even though it lasted only a couple of years, I became sort of an expert. I was one of those people that others asked when they needed to learn how to connect to the Internet, to find things on the Internet, or even to explain what the Internet was.
When The Internet Wasn’t Full of Ads
The Internet is all about making money nowadays. Everything is monetized, it seems. But, it wasn’t always like that. Before everyone figured out how to place ads, the Internet was mostly filled with real information.
A Distinction From The Real World
You know you’re an old timer if you remember ever saying that you were ‘going on the Internet’. Back then, going on the Internet was a distinct and separate activity from everything else in the world. Now, it’s become part of the world. But, there was a time when you ‘got off the Internet’ and returned to your life.
When The Internet Was Mostly Fun
Nowadays, the Internet gives everybody a voice. This lets many people talk, but few remember to actually listen. Back when the Internet was a baby, it was mostly fun. I remember once when someone created a web site and had nothing but a picture of a toilet. People searched for this and talked about it and we all laughed. Nobody knew, at first, what to do with the Internet. But one thing’s for sure, the seriousness that abounds today was not yet there.
Part of the appeal of the early Internet was getting page views. Pages had little counters at the bottom that showed how often it’d been viewed. People would look at this when visiting a page to make sure they were on a ‘cool’ site. When people started creating personal sites, having big numbers was huge. Of course, it was pretty easy to ‘Refresh’ over and over, but nobody ever cheated, right? 🙂
The Novelty Of Shopping Online
Buying something off the Internet? Believe it or not, that was once a foreign concept. Nobody really knew what to do with it. Once sites started establishing an inventory, it grew even further. You started having sites that did nothing but sell random items that were supposedly deals. Yes, deal-of-the-day sites were once a novelty! And they even went further? Remember the Woot Off? People would sit literally all day in front of their computer as random items would go up for sale. Maybe they still do them, but if so, it’s definitely not the event it once was.
Once the Internet started growing, some felt it went a little too far and wide. This was before Google and search engines were very reliable. So, Usenet became the spot where specific categories and discussions could take place. For example, fans of The X Files didn’t know how to find all the different places where they could discuss their show. Usenet gave them the forum alt.tv.the-x-files. Everyone knew to go there and soon every subject under the sun had a group. I’m sure Usenet still exists, but I haven’t used it in over a decade.
I still lament how cool Yahoo was back in the day. For awhile, the Internet and Yahoo were pretty much the same. For me, anyways. I used them for e-mail, games, news, sports, stocks. I stored photos there. It was my first dab at online dating. Their Messenger app was the first of many different chat apps I used. In the age where you didn’t have tabs on your browser, all I needed was the My Yahoo page with links to everything. Slowly, Yahoo found themselves beat at their own games, and now they’re pretty much an afterthought.
Nowadays, you can find music anywhere. Pandora and Spotify have nailed the market on streaming apps. If you want a specific song, it’s probably on Youtube. But it wasn’t always that way. For a number of years, finding music online was a huge deal. And it was often illegal! Finding MP3 copies of a new album was a pretty big deal! At first the music industry basically tried to keep music off the Internet altogether. Very interesting times!
Those are some of my favorite memories of the old Internet. What are some of the things you remember or have heard of?
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