Thursday, October 15, 2009

Internet Anniversary

Good morning,

Today's my anniversary - I got my first Internet account 18 years ago today, having just started as a graduate student at George Mason University. (Thank you, Tracy Holt, wherever you are!)

Back then:

  • Spam was a food. Mass emailing didn't affect most people. So when you did get email, it was probably for you personally.

  • File exchange was via anonymous FTP (File Transfer Program). You would "ftp" to the other site, enter your email address for the password and upload or download whatever was appropriate.

  • There are few private discussion boards. Instead there was Usenet, a spontaneous arrangement between different sites to carry various topics of posts. See the first point above for why this changed.

  • There was no World Wide Web, let alone search engines. If you wanted to find out about something or someone, you would still need to ask actual humans - though you could do the asking on Usenet.

  • Also no Facebook, MySpace or similar social media. For getting to know people in general or someone in particular, see above.

  • Last but certainly not least - no blogs!

Have a great Interwebbed day!

PS: If you're a net.oldtimer like me and you'd like to share reminiscences, the comments field is open (or feel free to drop me a line)!


Corrie Howe said...

Thanks for sharing your memories with "new timers" like me. I only started after AOL arrived on the scene.

Slightly different topic. My dad bought us the first personal home computer an "Osborne" with a tiny screen and DOS commands. I felt old when just ten years later I saw a model of the same computer in a museum display case.

Mama Coyote said...

This post is awesome :)

My family had a computer from about 1988-onwards, but we didn't get online until 1996. Worlds were opened up to me!

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hi Corrie and Mama Coyote,

An Osborne - quite interesting. When did your dad buy it?

My first computer experience was in fifth grade (1979-80); my Program for Academically Gifted (PAG) class worked with a Radio Shack computer.

Then in junior high (early 80s), I joined the Computer Club, with cutting-edge technology: Texas Instruments and Commodore Pets. The former had no monitors and no disk drives - they used actual TV sets and tape cassettes/recorders respectively. Of course, in programming BASIC was the order of the day.

After that, I went to computer day camp (summer of 1983), where we used Ataris.

My first computer of my very own was in 1988, same time as Mama Coyote's. Standard fare for personal computers: RAM 640K, top speed 10 Mhz, two floppy (5 1/4") drives, monochrome monitor, dot matrix printer* and the description specified "IBM compatible".

Oh yes, and WordPerfect was commonly supported, so I got that. Talk about backing the wrong horse!

What's the one computing change you've noticed most between your first computer and now?

[*] Some state agencies are still using those. I wonder if they've advanced to WordPerfect yet?

Jeff Deutsch