For some people, the Internet has always been there like T.V. and radio was for everyone under the age of 60. For those of us who remember the late 80’s to early 90’s, what was your first awareness of the internet?
My college roommate had an old Atari ST back around 1989 and I remember him laughing his butt off while staring at the screen. He had just discovered Usenet (or something like it) and quickly became addicted. (Since this was all on dial-up and we only had the one line, this became a problem). Being computer geeks, we’d been using BBS’s since the early 80’s but it was clear this was something new and on a much larger scale than anything we’d seen before.
My second experience came while I was working for IBM and they decided to give internet email addresses to everyone around 1991. They asked me what I wanted my name to be and I said ‘Bob’. So I was Bob@ibm.com. Needless to say, with a name like that, I discovered spam about 30 seconds after they activated it.
When the internet started becoming more prevalent, I remember sportscaster John Madden talking about it during a football game. Nobody knew what ‘www’ or ‘http’ was and they were trying to figure out who they could ask to explain it to them. He finally decided that they should ask someone who worked at an airport because they all seemed pretty smart
When I was in grad school, my advisor had been used to using email via Arpanet at this previous job. The CS department didn’t have a connection. But another place on campus did. So he’d over to there and use a terminal to do his email. As his student, I would indirectly participate in exchanges. I’d get print copies of emails regarding our work, propose and answer questions, etc. Then he’d walk over to the other place respond. So I was aware of it and a bit about how it worked, but didn’t use it myself.
We eventually got a Unix box of our own that had local email and used that in a way that’s very Arpanet-like.
At my first job, for a while we only had UUCP email but eventually got a full Arpanet connection. (My email and other info was printed in a softcover book so people would know who I was and how to contact me.) So that was when I officially joined what would later become the Internet. Then came FTP, Archie, etc. and eventually the WWW.
I had been using e-mail internally at my company for years, but of course the idea of sending same outside the company’s computer network was not even something anyone thought about. Then, suddenly, there was this way to do just that. You had to use some special string of characters (can’t remember what) and it didn’t always work, but it usually did. I thought it was the coolest thing EVER!!! But that was before I got introduced to the World Wide Web…
When I was in second or third grade, my class got on a bus and we drove for an hour to another city where we were ushered into a computer lab. There we watched a video that introduced us to “The Internet” and I remember that it was basically presented to us as a new kind of global encyclopedia. It was the mid-90s and I think we used Netscape Navigator. I don’t remember thinking much of it.
In 1973 one of my professors said that the purpose of the Arpanet was for people at MIT to send “foo” to people at Stanford and for them to send “bar” back. A couple of years later we logged onto to Stanford to play the paranoid person simulator “Parry.” When I joined AT&T in 1980 we had to use the old bang addressing to send email to various Bell Labs locations or to outside, for instance to get me you’d be able to type
Almost everyone in the world knew ihnp4 - it was one of the main backbone machines along with decvax and the one from Berkeley which I forget at the moment.
I used email long before the internet - first on Multics in 1969 and then on Plato in 1974, but both of those were single or dual computer systems, and not networked.
I had the old Prodigy service and was also using local dial up BBS. When Prodigy went to their weird pay per minute formula, I ditched them and somehow heard of the world wide web. However, I didn’t plunge in immediately. Sometime in the mid 1990s when AOL allowed unlimited use and had some access to the web is when I finally got connected to the internet.
I was an undergraduate research assistant in a neuroscience lab in late 1994 when a graduate student from another lab came over with a floppy disk with something called Netscape Navigator (0.8 beta). He told me and another graduate student I was working with to load it on one of our more powerful lab computers. We did and started surfing right away. There wasn’t that much content and no real search engines as we think of them today but it was still a revelation. The best way to find sites back then was to look them up in a printed directory or to just guess and jump from link to link.
It became apparent within just a couple of hours what this new contraption was really for when we stumbled across the first (poor quality) nude photos. The person I was working with was even more thrilled than I was so I went looking for more. I was able to find at least one good, new one an hour just by poking around. I watched the web grow from a rather quiet and exclusive techy echo chamber until it exploded just a few years later.
I am still convinced that I was one of the first people to try to buy plane tickets over the web. I figured it must be possible to book them that way so I looked and looked in 1995 until I found a site that claimed they were opening that line of business. It turns out it was just a travel agency with a geeky employee but I did it as one of their very first customers if not the first judging by the confusion. Nothing went right but I eventually got the (paper) tickets in the mail. There was no Expedia or anything of the sort back then.
I’d pretty much only used intranets until my college years…you needed clearance to connect to ARPAnet, and the closest I came to that was being in the JPL Explorer group in my senior year of high school. In other words, not close enough.
I BBS’ed for a few years until CompuServe (anyone remember Legend of the Red Dragon?), and since then I’ve been 'net enabled. But I knew about ARPAnet early on in high school.
I got my first email address in 1976 as a freshman in engineering school. They didn’t call it The Internet in those days and it wasn’t very widespread yet, mostly just universities and government labs. But everything since then has just been ripples spreading farther and wider from that same beginning.
We had internal email when I worked at IBM in 1989. It was a very cool thing in the library when we worked out how to automatically check the due dates on books checked out in the online catalog and send overdue notices to people.
In library school 1991-92, we talked about the internet and hypertext, but I never actually saw it until August 1994, when I was working for a NASA contractor; they had their very own Website you could look at with Mozilla… oh, and look! Other people have sites too. I can’t say that I knew then that this was going to change the world, but I saw that it was going to change libraries and what I was going to do with my career.
I built my first Website for a flight safety organization in the summer of 1995, and have been managing several .gov sites for nearly 20 years.
I’ve had a computer since the first Tandy 8086 I bought in 1986, but I was headed overseas to live and work and I don’t think I had any notion about the Internet until about 1993 when I was back in WDC for training. But again, I was headed back overseas and there was very poor service at that time. The first time I could actually use the Internet with any reliability was in about 1997, and it was iffy dial-up in Africa.
An AOL free disc; although I had read about it. I had played with computers from the early cassette days but I was far from a techoweenie; just a user. And even once I got online I found I didn’t do all that much other than e-mail, some IM, and some image searches. Even now I am as likely to go to a library and look in actual books rather than Google most things.
I was on BBSes and Freenet as a teen in the 90s. We would get together in our sweet 4-line chat rooms and make fun of AOLosers.
I don’t remember if our first home access was via Prodigy or AOL or maybe even CompuServe?
I think I saw the net at school before I saw it at home. But it was school-level internet so I didn’t get to see too much.
I do remember going to freshman orientation in 1997 and being the only one who raised their hand when the teacher asked who had an email address. I was mad that no one else was “with it” enough to have one I still use my kent.edu email address tho
In the early 90s (I think), People magazine ran a tiny feature on the guy(s?) who started the whole WWW part of this newfound internet business. I read it and couldn’t really grasp what the hell they were talking about, so I filed it away somewhere in the vast wasteland of my brain. Fast forward to when my husband wanted to get a computer online and we went through Prodigy. I wasn’t much impressed, as there really didn’t seem to be much of a starting point. I only began to really appreciate it around '96 when I started checking things out that got mentioned on TV, like ivillage.
In college in the early 90s you didn’t just get e-mail addresses, you had to ask for one and people started to tell me how convenient e-mail was so I got one. This came with a Unix Shell account which led me to Usenet and Gopher and FTP.
My brother, age 65 now, was a computer science student back in the early 70s. He would come home from college and tell the family all about his latest ARPANet shenanigans, and how it was going to be a big deal someday. He was obviously right and even had a hand in it, helping to develop the idea of Remote Procedure Call (RPC).