The Internet turns 25 today! Share your first experience on the 'net'.
On March 11th, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed a new digital information management system that would go on to become what we know know as the Internet. It would go on to help spawn wonderful companies to help catalog this new Wild West such as Altavista, Yahoo, Ask, and Google. It would improve our social lives with things like Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook. And it would cost immense amounts of worker productivity thanks to things like Stumbleupon, Digg, and Reddit.
The Engadget community stretches far and wide. Many of us were around in the BBS days and many others may have been born after the Internet was invented (crazy!). When did you first start using the World Wide Web, what were you using, and when did you realize it was a ridiculously cool thing?
(I realize including the AOL dialup screen fosters the annoying idea that AOL was the Internet, but in the early 90's, it represented many people's first experience connecting to it.)
Eventually, they had an update that included some sort of basic web browser. I remember my parents being apprehensive about letting me use it. But back then, it was a bit boring. There wasn't really anything indexing the internet, so you'd have to know which websites to go to ahead of time.
Anyway, I find it kind of ironic that I now work for the company that first shaped my early digital life.
It wasn't until my family switched to AOL (probably '94) that I really explored the internet. I can only imagine growing up in the present internet-age. I had begun to get into programming making simple e-mail bombers/IM punters... It was amazing what kind of mischievous things I was up to when I was 10-15, especially when online resources were hard to come by.
Some of the fondest memories I have of childhood are playing online games like Air Warrior and QuakeWorld.
I knew of the Web but really had very limited experience with it. the match demonstrated its power very quickly. Every day, three times a day I would post stories and was of course beating everyone in print, but I remember the message of its power really hitting home to me the night I wrote something about Kasparov's science advisor, Fred Friedel, being such a worrier that "he would bring an umbrella on a trip to the Sahara." About four hours later, in the middle of the night, Friedel's phone rang, and it was a friend from Germany, asking him, "would you really bring an umbrella to the Sahara?" Fred had no idea what this guy was talking about, and as he told me the story the next day, I understood for the first time that it really was a World Wide Web.
There was another aspect of it, too. Contrary to its promises, IBM tried to censor me, and when I wrote a story in which Kasparov expressed his anger at the IBM group, the editor was told it couldn't be posted, but someone pressed the wrong button, and there it was online and again around the world. IBM accused me of subterfuge, but as I said to them, laughing after they locked me in a room with a guard out front, "I don't even know what HTML stands for."
They fired me, and it cost me $400, just because someone pressed the wrong key. Another quick lesson learned: get paid in advance.
I tried AOL a few times. In the early days I think you could keep using free trials, then you had to associate those trials with a credit card.
I do remember that back then, Prodigy metered our usage of the internet. I'm pretty sure there was actually a time limit, not a data limit, but I'm not certain about that.
After those days I remember a lot of firsts. 1998 was big, as I remember playing GTA1 and downloading my first MP3s. Downloading an MP3 on dial-up was madness. Doing anything on dial-up was madness. Fortunately I went off to college in 1999, where my school had just gotten broadband...just in time for Napster to explode!
Anyway, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Prodigy. I'm amazed to see on Wikipedia that people were still using it at least until 2005. I'm pretty surprised that AT&T isn't using the domain name for anything. Heck, they should turn it into a nostalgia site :)
First search engine was webcrawler (then went to yahoo and eventually google) and I remember using Netscape Navigator.
Tim Berners-Lee is a great guy. Not only did he 'invent' the web, he's also behind the Semantic Web / Linked Data, which is moving our computer systems past glorified typewriter status. He's very open and progressive.
Funny story about AOL, I was doing work in a hospital network in Toronto and a sales rep came by to talk about some software system they were selling. They wanted to show a typical user screen, so they'd populated it with Canadian cities. However, all the email addresses were @aol.com, which was never really used here.
At first the closest I got to that at home was running Lynx on dialup - for those who never tried Lynx - it's a text-based browser that worked surprisingly well....
This was before Altavista, and before WebCrawler too, just a bunch of pages aggregating links, like Lycos and Planet Earth Pages. Those were the days... :)
This was before browsers so we used telnet to display file directories and navigate through them. It wasn't until I was station back in the United States in 1993 that I would dial into AOL.
So what was before this even was the Bulletin Board Systems like Wild Cat, and people that maintained those little slices of the internet, like The Frozen Banana BBS, Grand Forks ND; circa 1986.
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