Weekend Open Forum: Online since...?

By on May 3, 2013, 6:30 PM

The world wide web turned 20 this week. Though I haven’t been online for that long, it got me reminiscing about the first time I heard my computer make that choreographed sequence of noises that allowed it to piggyback on a phone line and access the series of tubes known as the internet.

It was around 1996 or 97 and it was quite new in my country. I hadn’t even heard of it before my brother had it installed on our computer -- a Macintosh at the time -- and told me this thing connected us to the whole world. “You can even go to Playboy if you want!”, he exclaimed. I don’t remember exactly what I did the first time I got online, probably look up Playboy if I’m honest (don’t judge), but I do remember reading a lot and having fun chatting on an early IRC client as it quickly became popular among people from various local schools.

So yeah.. that was my first online experience of many that followed the next few years, including long C&C gaming sessions as well as building an mp3 download website on Word gathering working links from around the web. How long have you been online and what are your first memories of it?




User Comments: 55

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mevans336 mevans336 said:

Before 1996. Here is the first post I ever made, archived for eternity: [link]

(It was "leet" not to use caps for certain things back then.)

Guest said:

I recall the first time going online. my exwife had a friend who lived at home still and her dad had the net. Was summer of 1998, I asked if I could see the internet since I saw an ad in a car stereo magazine. The ad was for audio warehouse direct? or something similar. I was "wow, this is great!"

yRaz yRaz said:

1996. I was only 6 years old. I remember playing soldier of fortune and command and conquer. When I went to download it have to choose the demo with videos or without. The one with videos was 7mb and the one with out was less than two. This was a problem because we only had a 32mb hard drive. I think I made my first email in 2001, it was a hotmail account and I liked playing on MSN gaming zone. Before that my dad made me use his.

2 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ahhh, the sound of a dial-up modem. I think I still have headaches from the collection of sounds used. I remember putting tape on the modem speaker to muffle the sound.

The only memory I have is leaving the PC on all night just to download a 10MB file.

yRaz yRaz said:

Ahhh, the sound of a dial-up modem. I think I still have headaches from the collection of sounds used.

The only memory I have is leaving the PC on all night just to download a 10MB file.

the ring tone on my first cell phone was the dial up noise. This was after we got DSL, man was that fast.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

Since 2003. I remember using Prepaid Internet cards here in our country and at the same time using the Dial-Up modem.

veLa veLa said:

Well I had used the internet for school research but I finally got my own home internet connection during 2001.

2 people like this |
Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

For me it was around 95 or 96. Quite the eye opener, I remember writing down cool website addresses on a yellow pad. Not sure if browsers had bookmark capabilities but I clearly hadn't discovered the feature at the time (Netscape 1.x I think). From then, I went on creating my own local homepage so I could simply click a link and visit my favorite sites every single day. Then I hosted it free on Fortune City. Then I opened my own site about tech. And well, the rest is history.

mailpup mailpup said:

I don't remember exactly but I think it was around 1996 using a work PC. I didn't buy my own until 1999.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

1994 or 1995 using AOL.

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

1998 with Aol 2.0 dial up with one access phone number in a town of 50,000+ and Windows 98 second edition with a brand new Dell Pent II 400mhz with 512mb of ram , 16 megabyte (not GB) video card, a DVD rom and CD RW and 21 inch Sony CRT, very top of the line for that tme.

yRaz yRaz said:

For me it was around 95 or 96. Quite the eye opener, I remember writing down cool website addresses on a yellow pad. Not sure if browsers had bookmark capabilities but I clearly hadn't discovered the feature at the time (Netscape 1.x I think). From then, I went on creating my own local homepage so I could simply click a link and visit my favorite sites every single day. Then I hosted it free on Fortune City. Then I opened my own site about tech. And well, the rest is history.

They were teaching us to use computer in elementary school they made us use Netscape on the old school Macs. It was right when they came out with the colorful egg shaped ones. At home we use internet explore but switched to Firefox as soon as it came out. Can't for the life of me remember when that was. That was so long ago it seems like an epic of time has passed. I actually enjoy those days. There was a certain wonder computers gave you at that time, I miss that. As amazing as computers are today it all seems trival now. For some reason I miss ISA slots...

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

Internet? World Wide Web? Oh, you mean DARPA, no? ARPAnet! Nope, it was before that...50 k baud, timeshare, teleprinter, Hollerith cards, did we have tape then? (can't remember) but it squealed and connected to a timeshare at MIT and that teleprinter made terrific noise...everything else since then is kind of a blur. Ah, I remember now...AOL about 1993...no later than that...well, anyway, it happened...but it seems to be just a continuum. Or is it a mobius?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

For some reason I miss ISA slots...
OMG, how could you possibly miss programing each card with its own IRQ to avoid conflicts?

JC713 JC713 said:

2003; I am not that old :p.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Since 93-94 on Prodigy. Prior to that I was crusin' the BBS's.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

2003, I am not that old :p.

Your not 10 or 2003? :P

JC713 JC713 said:

Your not 10 or 2003? :p

I should have used a semi colon lol. The grammar police are gonna hunt me down :eek:.

Guest said:

Around 1996-1997 I think with a dial up modem. It took 5 minutes just for downloading 100 kB :D

p51d007 said:

Did the BBS thing until our local public library had "free internet" (1 hour at a time).

It was all text based, but I remember using gopher to "search"....it wasn't that good.

When fee based internet came along, at the blistering speed of 9600 bps, and it had

GRAPHICS....well, it couldn't get any better LOL.

EEatGDL said:

First access ever... 2005; got it at home the next year. Because I got it late; I grew up with solo-playing or LAN parties, I think I ventured in online gaming by 2010 with Halo, C&C 3, and Age of Mythology. 2 years ago I bought Crysis 2 and played it online a lot, recently moved to WarFace but overall I'm scarcely surfing the web or playing [either offline or online], too much work -mon-sat, morning-night.

highlander84 said:

I don't know exactly was early 90's...I remember the web address to the chat room I was always in chatting with people... xenu.denverweb.net/chat/125455 Sadly it no longer exist...It was a chat room you could post HTML code in directly. Was very "cool" at the time.... there were other chat rooms (end number) but I've since forgot them...

highlander84 said:

For me it was around 95 or 96. Quite the eye opener, I remember writing down cool website addresses on a yellow pad. Not sure if browsers had bookmark capabilities but I clearly hadn't discovered the feature at the time (Netscape 1.x I think). From then, I went on creating my own local homepage so I could simply click a link and visit my favorite sites every single day. Then I hosted it free on Fortune City. Then I opened my own site about tech. And well, the rest is history.

They were teaching us to use computer in elementary school they made us use Netscape on the old school Macs. It was right when they came out with the colorful egg shaped ones. At home we use internet explore but switched to Firefox as soon as it came out. Can't for the life of me remember when that was. That was so long ago it seems like an epic of time has passed. I actually enjoy those days. There was a certain wonder computers gave you at that time, I miss that. As amazing as computers are today it all seems trival now. For some reason I miss ISA slots...

Netscape!!! I remember staying after school to play some game like a treasure hunt with Netscape... ahhhh good ol' days...

ETF Soldier ETF Soldier said:

Born in 1996, started using the internet 1999... although all I did was play games. Speaking off, that was when I first started playing Age of Empires!

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Ahhh, the sound of a dial-up modem. I think I still have headaches from the collection of sounds used. I remember putting tape on the modem speaker to muffle the sound.

The only memory I have is leaving the PC on all night just to download a 10MB file.

I learned the modem command to turn the sound down/off so I wouldn't get caught being up till 5 in the morning downloading/surfing.

As for being online, was on local bbs's from 1993 until I started using aol in 1995 or so, actually started paying for internet access in 1997.

1 person liked this | fimbles fimbles said:

96-97

First thing I did was download the hexen 2 demo.

1 person liked this | hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

From then, I went on creating my own local homepage so I could simply click a link and visit my favorite sites every single day. Then I hosted it free on Fortune City. Then I opened my own site about tech. And well, the rest is history.

We appreciate what you've done with the site.

1 person liked this | avoidz avoidz said:

1996. But it was two years later when I really spent a lot of time online. I was using my workplace Internet and staying there till 2 or 3 in the morning. It was such an exciting time with so much to take in and learn. I kind of miss those early days really. Now a lot of it is taken for granted.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Late bloomer myself. I started using the Internet around 2006.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

I started using the Internet around 96-98 on an ISDN connection. I used it almost exclusively for four things: flash games, Pokemon, NASCAR (I was really into stock car racing as a kid), and downloading Gameboy ROMs. I always thought I was the coolest kid on the block because I didn't have to put up with dial-up like my friends did.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

1999. We got our first modern computer the year before and I finally talked my parents into dial up

Outlaw88 said:

I started playing with BBS's in the mid 80's(300 baud modem), but it was not until 91 after I got out of the Army that a friend got me hooked on the internet. If I remember correctly, there was no www, just ftp, telnet, irc, and email. I remember the internet being more fun and complicated back then, and a lot less worrying about viruses.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I can't remember the exact year but it was probably around 1985-86. I had one of the brand spanking new Amiga's and I used to surf BBS's all the time with it. Although originally slow as hell, those were some exciting times seeing how online communications developed year by year.

tonylukac said:

I first used the web in 1995 at Walt Disney World. My nieces got me reinvolved in computers and the web and knew more about it than me in 96. Had a Toshiba laptop gifted to my in 96, provided by an accounting job I worked at, and used it to do some refresher courses where I also used the web at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL. I think I got a computer capable of surfing the web in either 96 or 97, where I used aol dial up. I still have that email address today. They put in cablevision broadband in about 2000, which then somehow became att then comcast, then we moved from the house at about 2002 where we now have dsl, which was cheaper than cable. It's now run again by att. The phone company switch providing our dsl is relatively new (about 30 years old). Others were like 100 years old in the area, so we were lucky to be within the 5 mile area that was the limit of dsl in 2002.

1 person liked this | Dawn1113 said:

The only memory I have is leaving the PC on all night just to download a 10MB file.

Yeah, I remember doing the same. Often enough, I woke in the morning to find the connection had been lost some time during the night. I literally had to fight my tears when that happened.

windmill007 said:

BBS, CompuServ , Prodigy, then AOL. Ahh the good old days. 300 baud modem. LOL

dikbozo said:

1997.Dial up on a 14.4 kbps modem. Brutal.

I remember being able to click a link and going to the bathroom for a whiz and still end up waiting for a page to load.

Blink tags.

Yahoo as the coolest place.

First Google search in '99, never left home again.

After an upgrade to 33.6, I disremember downloading the latest Netscape release for 2 hours. Went broadband early 2000.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

"Being Online" is a confusing term, and it can mean one of the following:

1. Interacting with other users via Internet (chat or email?)

2. Looking at some static pictures.

Technically, you are not much "online", if you just browse websites, without any input from your side. In other words, word "online" means "available", first of all, I.e. available for communication through Internet.

Anyhow, this one is tough to figure.

Myself, I started using the first versions of IRC in 1994. And in about 2000 was when I stopped using IRC.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"Being Online" is a confusing term, and it can mean one of the following:

1. Interacting with other users via Internet (chat or email?)

2. Looking at some static pictures.

Technically, you are not much "online", if you just browse websites, without any input from your side. In other words, word "online" means "available", first of all, I.e. available for communication through Internet.

Anyhow, this one is tough to figure.

Myself, I started using the first versions of IRC in 1994. And in about 2000 was when I stopped using IRC.

I never thought "availability" meant "in use", some places availability means standby waiting for when it needs to be used. Much like our phones being connected/online, which means they are available 24/7 waiting for when they are needed to be used.

dikbozo said:

IDK if this counts or not.

Way back in 1973, my high school got a teletype terminal. We were allowed unsupervised access to a real time multi-user system. IIRC this was a telephone based connection. We could type in commands real time and access online programs and create files. We also had the option of creating off line punchtape programs, which we could then read into the system and have them compiled and run with results within the day, perhaps even while we sat there. Much cooler and faster than the punch cards batch runs we had used at the beginning.

As it was I didn't get back into computing until '97 from dropping out in 1975. Things had very definitely changed.

dikbozo said:

The original usage from Back in the Day was being able to connect, whether a persistent connection like broadband or an as needed connection like dial up. I was at a retail outlet the other day that was using dial up to connect for a credit card transaction, so it is still out there.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Much like our phones being connected/online, which means they are available 24/7 waiting for when they are needed to be used.

Exactly! If you are online, that means you can be contacted, first of all. But when you just browse Internet - that's not really being online. Of course this can be argued against...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Exactly! If you are online, that means you can be contacted, first of all. But when you just browse Internet - that's not really being online. Of course this can be argued against...
You can't browse the Internet unless you are connected, which means you are on-line.

psycros psycros said:

BBS's from 1990-1994. Starting in '96 it was dial-up for the next decade until I manged to figure out mobile tethering..and that's what I'm still stuck with today. There's no broadband where I live and probably never will be. In fact, we're actually going *backwards* because the phone lines are so decrepit that dial-up doesn't even work any more. Twice now the state and federal governments have given grants to ISPs to get us real internet, and twice they've pocketed the money and delivered nothing. We're now three years into a whole new round of funding and it looks like their gonna shaft the taxpayers again. Its astounding to me that in this day and age, in the United States of America, that there are people less than ten minutes from a city who can't get reliable, affordable and modern Internet. Then again, this is the same America with crumbling power, water and gas infrastructures so maybe I shouldn't be too surprised.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Not sure of the exact year. I managed to avoid being online for most of my years growing up. I knew people who had modems and downloaded stuff from BBS's, and that was good enough. When I moved from the Amiga to the PC in late '94 I bought a modem but had problems connecting so replaced it with a RAM upgrade. I think I only went for a modem the next time I bought a PC, in '96.

Still, I had net access at the university, read newsgroups and browsed using Mosaic, so I'm pretty sure I was online in 1993 if not a little earlier.

(By the way, the price of the 16MB SIMM I bought in '94 would buy me now, even when not adjusted for inflation, around 64GB of RAM. Although that would be in 8 DIMM's, so I wouldn't be able to plug them all in.)

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

'97/'98 I think.

learninmypc learninmypc said:

Yes, I was sitting in my room when some friends of mine knocked on my door & asked me if I wanted to go online?

Long story short, they gave me a pc with Win ME on it (supposedly before it had been released to the public) One of them had thrown it together from parts he had in his basement.

Like some ignorant pc users,I knew nothing about security programs & before too long my nice pc was infected.

Thankfully another friend of mine, had a son that was a computer tech. He fixed it up for me for free & I was totally happy on my free dial up ISP www.nocharge.com

It later got replaced with another free pc & another.

My best friend gives me his pc's because I take better care of them than his other friend. Life continues.

HiDDeNMisT HiDDeNMisT said:

I remember I was using the internet when they got to for school. Started using it around 96. Then I found out a bout emulators a few years later. Man I had a blast.

treetops treetops said:

My family got a computer in 94-95 and the internet in 98. My friend down the street had the internet probably in 94 but I never used it. We would play computer games occasionally. His dad owned a computer store, he had 2 phone lines. For the time that was unusual, one was for the internet and or modem to modem gaming. When people talked about the internet I pictured a giant jungle gym. I was 10 when it came out. I thought is was amazing playing modem to modem warcraft 2, duke nukem and descent.

When I saw battlenet for the first time for warcraft 2 and the diablo 1 online I was instantly hooked on pc gaming. Then of course there was the infinite porn.. what else could a 15 year old ask for from a glowing box?

Guest said:

Around 1999, I remember playing SWAT 2 on the internet, the lag was terrible but we didnt know any different.

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