How the internet started

How the internet started – I was there!

On 6 August 1991, the Internet went live to the world. There was no fanfare in the global press. Most people around the world didn’t even know what the Internet was.

It was a chilly fall day (the best days) after work on a friday. Our boss called a handful of us passing by into his office to show us the internet.

“The what?” We had no idea what he was talking about as the modem’s screeching handshake linked him to the AOL servers, allowing him to slowly crawl through the internet.

He told us we can search for things and email people using the internet. This was all very new and a bit overwhelming.

We weren’t sure what he meant by search for things in the internet. America Online (AOL) and Netscape Navigator were the ISP of choice back then for the internet.

car phone
Only doctors and attorneys or people with money had car phones, the first cell phones. 1990s.

I had no cell phone. Only doctors and attorneys and people of money could afford them. They were attached in cars, known as car phones, or carried in bags. I had a home phone line with an answering machine. Getting home to check messages was always exciting. The flashing light on the box told me how many messages I had. Messages were recorded on cassette tape…one thing most kids today have no knowledge of. You came home to  messages, “where are you? Call me when you get home!” You were out shopping, at the movies or a concert. No one really got ahold of anyone unless you used a public payphone. You had to carry change on you or make change to use one. Average cost of a local call was 35 cents if I remember right.

motorola pagerA couple of years later I had a pager, as they were popular for a few years, from 1996 – 1999? Pager service was about $20 a month. Pagers, for those who don’t know, would flash a number on the screen for you to call. Then again, you had to find a public phone and call the person. We came up with codes for friends so we knew who was calling. If my brother was number 5 he would text…. 600-5, meaning, meet him at 6pm. Around 1998, all pager companies seemed to die overnight when cell phones became more popular and affordable.

cell one cell phone
My first cell phone from CELL ONE. Heavy with dot matrix screen. 1997

It was 1994 and I was surfing the internet was very slow with an IBM laptop I saved up for.

Dial up modems were the way to connect to the internet and you were lucky to get a 14.4k or 28.8k connection. That’s extremely slow by the way.

If you wanted to download an mp3 that is 5MB, it would take you about 6 minutes (5MB is 5000k, so 5000 divided by 14.4 is 5.7 minutes.) With fast cable modems of today, that same file is downloaded in less than a second. There was no streaming of movies. That was not available. The videos available were not watchable, as the video would not move.

usr modem
USR modem. Your phone line connected to the modem and the other end connected to your pc serial port. Those were the days.

You would need to start downloading overnight to watch later the next day. This was also the year mp3’s were hugely popular and just started. People were downloading any mp3 they could find, to place on their cheesy website. A break through came in 1997 when US Robotics (I used to be a tech there…awesome place and people) created the 56k modem, doubling the speed via analog compression (still painfully slow.)

Ahhhhh…. the good old days. Times were better then, just as anyone said of the years they grew up in.

There were no texts, twitter or Facebook. No social media and no personal websites. There were chat rooms, however. 50 people or more in a chat room was chaotic. I did meet a friend of mine in a chat room around 1996 and we’re still friends today, 21 years later.

Although I love texting my photos to friends, face timing at times with family and running my You Tube channels, I think I prefer the older days before the internet.

Technology and the internet are awesome and a perfect tool for what I do (music, photo, video production), but I think I prefer the older days when there was less. I prefer when social media was not around. Too much fluff filling everyone’s heads.

Online gaming is fun, having the ability to buy anything from Amazon and receiving it in a day is great, and it makes research easy and fast. It’s the social media part I can’t stand.

I wonder what the zombified users of social media would do without Facebook? They wouldn’t be able to post what they have for lunch that day. Tragedy.

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