Your first Internet moment

Discuss

38 Responses to “Your first Internet moment”

  1. Joe says:

    For me, it was 1978, and there was nothing called the Internet yet (it’s usally said that the Internet was born in 1982 when the ARPAnet and attached networks switched to the TCP/IP protocol which made all the interconnected networks behave as one, hence an “internet”). A fellow student showed me how to call a local phone number in Washington, DC, connect over the ARPAnet to a machine at MIT, and play an early version of what became Zork, with the text printed out on a 300 baud teletype.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sometime in late 1994. A friend of mine happened to be over at my crummy little gov’t subsidized apartment and saw that I was playing a trivia game on one of the local BBSs. He asked me if I wanted to see something cool, which of course I did. So we traded seats and he did some magic with my comm software (Telemate v4.12, I believe it was). I didn’t fully get most of what he was telling me, but it boiled down to this: he had some random kids’ account information from the local university and he logged into it. Using some wizardry I didn’t get he bounced around various folders and servers (I think), all from a command prompt rather than any sort of GUI. He doesn’t give me much detail, but he’s trying to find a game demo (what’s that?) to show me. About an hour-ish later it’s fully downloaded and installed. And poof: DOOM! Welcome to the future of gaming.

  3. Etoile says:

    I got it immediately. This would be in 1988 or 1989. My first experience was with Prodigy (walled garden #1) and then later GEnie (walled garden #2). I don’t remember who our first ISP was, but I remember Internet in a Box. I started getting on MUDs. (well, MOOs) in 1995 – am still on those daily. I had my first webpage in 1996 and my first domain (still my primary) in 1999. Even back on Prodigy, though, I knew what was going on. They had EasySAABRE for flights. I made friends across the country. It was always clear to me.

  4. escowles says:

    The first time I used the internet at all was playing MUDs in 92. It didn’t register until a while later that the servers were on the other side of the country…

    I think the first time I really saw the potential was when a guy in the computer lab showed me Mosaic and HTML. It was the first time I really thought I could contribute something (beyond email and newsgroup posts).

  5. Anonymous says:

    what`s there “to get”? for me it was always obvious. i bought a modem (28.8) with the sole intention of downloading pictures of a celebrity (gillian anderson).

  6. Keneke says:

    It was backward for me. I remember seeing all the stuff you could do with the modem of the Commodore 64 – sold separately, which I never got.

    I said to myself, “That’s gonna be so cool.” But it wasn’t until college in 1991 until I actually got on the internet.

  7. Bill Beaty says:

    I was on various services in the late 1980s early 90s, Seattle’s infamous “connected.com,” and had just started a home dialup BBS when some guys posted shareware for a web viewer called “NCSA Mosaic,” and mswin interface called Trumpet Winsock.

    My god, this is Gopher/Archie/Veronica, but with PICTURES.

    Ted Nelson’s Hypertext is finally real. And you know what this means? This means we can initiate some really major global memes. Press lightly on just the right spot, then stand back and watch the “fires” spread. What stuff do I have stored up and ready for this? Ah, how about …turn hundreds of innocent little kids into raving Amateur Scientist readers, all worshipping CL Stong? School kids need science fair projects, and when the hoards arrive online, I’ll already be set up and waiting. Maybe I should put up a Tesla Coil page and turn them all into HV fanatic mad scientists. VandeGraaffs and electrostatics too. There’s these weird expensive things called “neodymium supermagnets” which nobody knows about and which only exist in the physics teacher catalogs. Ten dollars for a half-inch magnet. Let’s see if those things catch fire. And oh the darker side: I don’t have time to build and test all these crackpot free energy inventions, so why not try to trigger off a “free energy community” that goes out and does all the work? This will be right next to the educational and science fair stuff, so they can’t miss it. Lets see, what else is lying around here? Leaf blower hovercrafts. Microwave oven experiments, make plasma. Oh and electricity …it’s being explained wrong. And airfoils. Meme effects, so I bet I can sit here making major changes to society without having to write a book or anything! All of them, they will become one of me. When the going gets nerd, the nerds turn pro. Moo hoo ha haaaaaa.
    http://amasci.com/news.html#memes

  8. Fett101 says:

    I’d say the first “Internet Moment” that I can think of was when I first read of an MMORPG raids, a team of random strangers across the world taking the time to join up and defeat some beast greater than all of them. The fact that there were players whose sole job was to heal others astounded me and made me consider how, if people could corroborate for just games, what other worthwhile things would soon be created via the world spanning net.

  9. Anonymous says:

    My first Internet Memories, The day I sign up earthlink $20 a mouth 24/7 access to the real internet, Not like the AOL Hell wall garden internet like my parents had. The Day I Discover Napster and downloaded my first mp3. Simon Le Bon – Gray Lady And The Sea. The day I could watch that secret video stream ZDTV via real media. The Day I dump old fashion 56k from DSL 1.5/384k.

    The Day I downloaded MAME 0.31 and played Donkey Kong to 4am. The day when Subscribe to my first Podcast. Getting started with Linux. The day I got started with BT and Suprnova. I had to go out buy two HD to hold all that Pirated stuff.

  10. kasinator79 says:

    I remember visiting my brother at college (I was still in high school) about 1994-5, he showed me the internet and found Nirvana guitar tab to print out. Mind blowing for a teenager trapped in small town hell!

  11. Rick. says:

    It was about ’88..’89 for me with the aformentioned Commodore 64. I got online using that 300 baud modem on Quantum Link which eventually became America Online. I chatted with strangers and eventually befriended a guy clear across the country in DC and we traded radio mix tapes through the mail. It was all very exciting. My mother canceled the service when I ran up the per-minute bill…something like 80 bucks? I didn’t get online again until almost a decade later…on America Online. :)

  12. Padraig says:

    It’s hard to recall whether I had a ‘get’ it moment.

    One thing comes to mind, from about 11 years ago or so.

    The government agency I worked for decided that each office would have one computer with Internet access (LOL). It was up to the senior officer to decide who should get it.

    Some managers decided it was a ‘waste of time’ :)) and so didn’t allow anyone to have the access codes, even themselves.

    Myself and the other ‘geek’ in the office agreed that we should have it as the rest hadn’t a clue. There was only a him and me in an office of about 38 people who had ‘net access at home.

    This was the tactic we used: “We both have access at home, we know ‘how to use it’, we can show others and we’re not likely to play around wasting time because we can easily do that at home.”

    Our manager agreed and said we had to choose between us. Out of fear that we wouldn’t get it – and thus miss bragging rights :)) I volunteered for my friend to have access.

    I suppose in some ways it was at that point I ‘got it’ because I had access at home, it was worming it’s way into the working environment and I could see enormous potential where many others either didn’t know about it or thought it was just a ‘toy’.

    Years later I was in internal complaints management and had to warn staff about using Facebook etc at work and posting personal information that was visible to the public (and their managers) :)))

  13. Anonymous says:

    I actually can’t remember the very first time I was on the internet, but I definitely “got” it right away. One of my first meaningful memories was playing the original Petz PC games and getting really involved in its online modding community (just look up “Petz hexies” and you’ll see it’s still active!). Come to think of it, it was probably THE earliest modding community that was almost all female, lol. This was probably around 1998 or so. I was 10 or 11 years old, so being able to make a breed of neon green alien poodles and share them on my own little Angelfire website with people from around the world — that was pure joy!

    And then there was ActiveWorlds, which was just like Second Life but with less flexibility and a MUCH simpler scripting langauge. I was really into that, too. I built houses, mazes, entire cities! I had virtual friends and virtual boyfriends. It was just like playing house, but much more fun! :) (But not TOO much fun, because I was a cyber-prude and never engaged in cyber-sex.)

    The internet was a part of my daily life from day one. It WAS my social life. And for a shy, nerdy 11-year-old girl, finding like-minded people to socialize with was difficult. Thank you, internet! I remember thinking, “Whoa, these people are so much nicer and more interesting than the kids at school!” lol.

    My favorite thing about the internet has always been the sharing of ideas and creativity. In 1999 the term “user-generated content” wasn’t a buzz word like it is now, but that’s what drew me in: creating things and sharing them, and throwing ideas back and forth until they grow into amazing projects.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Around 1983 – Being denied an account by my CompSci adviser…..

  15. glatt1 says:

    I was doing email and chat room stuff in the early 80′s, but I didn’t realize the potential for the internet to change my life until I was planning a trip to New Zealand and Australia in 1996.

    I had heard about this hike in New Zealand that was the “Finest Walk in the World” and the guide books even gave a phone number in New Zealand I could call to get more information and get the required permits. But when I got on this new thing called the World Wide Web, there were actual pictures and descriptions and maps and a form you could fill out to get a booklet and even a way to make reservations. It was better than the library and the best bookstores in town.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Early 1990′s. Had been on Usenet for a while and my provider had just gotten an honest-to-god Internet connection. I downloaded the specs for the Census Bureau’s Tiger format to help with a contract my company was bidding on. One day I knew nothing about it, next day I could interpret the specifications. Before this Internet access didn’t seem very relevant, afterwards it was “THE FUTURE!” :D

  17. Anonymous says:

    Wake up in a technicolor closet. Open the door. Gag the cockatoo. LambdaMOO.

    Also, FidoNet. Mosaic beta. Gopher. But mostly MOOs. Worldwide. A friend’s private MOO in Australia, from here in Canada, in 1993.

    I even let friends stay over to have cybersex while I slept.

  18. novium says:

    I don’t think I had one, exactly. Not that I can pin down. My folks got AOL in 1993 or so, and a little bit before that, my dad and a friend were directly connected through…some program, I don’t remember what except that it was run through DOS and I remember chatting with my dad’s friend’s daughter through it.

    And that probably doesn’t count as “getting it” by I was 8 or so, and I wouldn’t have. I just accepted it. And then as I grew a bit older, I started hitting the chatrooms and sending IMs and having email penpals and playing a text-base MMORPG. Eventually I ventured out of the confines of AOL. I remember spending a rainy afternoon with a friend, trying to see which companies had websites. (answer: not many of them), and just searching for random stuff to see what would come up. I remember the first time i used the internet to do research for a school project, and the first thing I bought online. (Good Omens, and it was with an Amazon promotional gift certificate)

    In short, there never seemed to be a specific moment. My awareness of what it was and what it could do grew along with what I wanted it to be.

    Sometimes I think I “get it” anew every day.

  19. Mujokan says:

    The first time I saw anything about it was an advertisement for a PBM game in the back of a Tunnels and Trolls solo adventure. That should give me a few geek cred points.

  20. Scurra says:

    I have an “anti” moment, which would be around 1991 when I was on a postgrad course and we had a demonstration of HTML – I even wrote a bit of code in it.
    And everyone on the course said “yes, yes, very interesting but of no practical purpose whatsoever.”

    But I agree with novium – the answer is almost every day…

  21. Lothario Escobar says:

    L.O.R.D. was the moment I got it.

  22. mmarlett says:

    For me, I was in Manhattan, KS, in 1994 and being asked to help put the K-State Collegian online. I was an illustrator and cartoonist who had already been using Photoshop for a few years (since 1.0!) and, unlike the newspaper’s photojournalists, didn’t really give a damn about potential copyright problems with my work. (“What? Some asshole in China might make a T-shirt with one of my cartoons? Cool!”) We wound up being the third daily newspaper in the world to go online with our content. My friend and the brains behind the whole thing, Kelly Campbell, now works for Google. Kelly is on vacation right now, and I expect to see him on Sunday. I look forward to that in a way that I don’t look forward to emails, site updates and what-have-you. I totally get the Internet and pretty much since day-one totally got it, but I get the real world, too. Kansas can be a nice place to be in the middle of things.

  23. g0d5m15t4k3 says:

    I think I “got it” almost as soon as I started using it. I was jealous of my friend in ’97 who had an online computer & used it to find pictures of our favorite bands & print them out. After nagging my mom, I got a computer myself a year or so later. Then I discovered Chat Rooms. These fascinated me because they were like the pen-pals I had gotten through my school’s foreign language program. I realized that I didn’t have to write on paper & wait weeks for a reply, I had it right then & right now!

    I found ways to download music & find bands I’d never heard of that I loved. I realized that the internet was a way to get to know people and things that weren’t in your immediate area. I kept very few friends in high school, but they were all close. And I had some very dear ones that I met on the internet. I dabbled in self-taught HTML when no one else in my age group knew how the web worked.

    Now I use the internet every day. I can’t imagine what it’d be like trying to do research or communicating without it. I guess this sounds like a great ad for the internet but cheesiness aside, it has let me find friends & conduct business globally that I doubt I would have without it.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Honestly? When I realized the difference between the limited selection of free BBS porn and the unlimited amount of porn on Usenet.

    Hey. I was young.

  25. Avram / Moderator says:

    It was while I was working for Crossover Technologies, a computer game company. Somehow or other I was directed to AltaVista, back when it was altavista.digital.com, probably in early 1996, not long after the site was set up. I tried it out, and suddenly realized that, with the ability to type an arbitrary search string into a web form and get back a bunch of useful links, humanity’s basic relationship to knowledge had changed.

    Another moment, also in ’96, came when I was fiddling around with the HTML FRAME tag, just introduced in Netscape Navigator 2.0. I cobbled together a frameset that divided the page into a 3×3 grid of sub-pages, and realized that we were living in the future that Howard Chaykin had predicted in his 1980s science fiction comic series American Flagg.

  26. squidfood says:

    In ’88, arriving at college, we were all given an email account. I didn’t really see the point at all – everyone I’d know to email was right near me in the big terminal room. Then a few months later I hooked up with a girl in the next dorm over IRC. Yeah, ok, I suddenly saw the point in that.

    After college I didn’t have any access for a couple years, then arriving in grad school saw this Mosaic thing and was like “pffft … pointless, newsgroups are better.”

  27. caitifty says:

    I’d had an email account since about ’86, and first used the web in about ’94, but I think the “hey, this really does change everything” moment for me wasn’t until about 2002, when I was finishing a grad school paper at about 3am. I had a vague memory that there’d been some term for ‘the mental illness suffered by slaves who have an irrational desire to escape’. A decade earlier I would have had little hope of finding the term let alone a reference even in a well-stocked library during opening hours. It took me 15 minutes to find the term again online (“drapetomania”) and another 10 to get a pdf of the original article (‘Diseases and peculiarities of the negro race’) by one S. Cartwright in DeBow’s Journal of November 1851..

  28. allybeag says:

    When did I “get it”? Must have been about 1997-8, when I set my first website free. Uploading it was like watching your child going off to school for the first time. I’d spent ages learning HTML and creating this website which felt like my own first baby (it was for our local morris dance side, for whom I play sax, in case you’re wondering) and as it appeared on the net I realised I was now part of a different kind of world, where people from all over the planet could so easily read about a group of women dancing in the north of England, and not only that, but contact us and discuss dancing.

    I’d been using computers since the mid-80s, and was very much aware of the internet long before we got online, but it was expensive in the early days unless you were lucky enough to be at a college that gave you an account. Then Freeserve came along, and the world changed, because everyone and his dog could get online for the price of a phonecall.

  29. Anonymous says:

    We intercepted about a total of 20 miscalls to the shared house house we lived in Cabbagetown.

    They were internet subscribers hoping to pay or discuss their bills to some early ISP.

    I can’t remember the ISP’s name “Interconnect, Interserve???”. Aty the time I had no clue what product they were buying into.

    Anyways it started as your typical wrong number call. At first I was polite and told these random , odd callers they had the wrong number. I think once I even told them what the correct number was.

    Then one day (a little cheesed) I called up the company Inter..whatever to complain and tell them do a better job of getting their actual phone number out there (or to maybe give us some free subscription to whatever they were hawking.

    Anyways I was talking to an answering machine so you can guess where that went.

    So after that a couple more times I began to play head games with the random people who called our house; inflating their bills and stuff like that.

    Eventually we kind of stopped taking calls close to the end of the work day although for some reason the calls slumped off too.

    We got onto the internet shortly after via the IT geeks in the house.

    One day one techie proudly once showed us an email of how Bill Gates had emailed him back about a business idea he had!

    For an all too brief youth we all sat on the Couch together watching Star Trek Next Generation. Now 2 of them are multi-millionaires and I am downtrodden scum

    I used the internet to look at “Megan, the Internets sexiest Redhead”

  30. Anonymous says:

    1991, protesting the first american war in iraq. people had piles of printed out news from the nets that we hung next to our posters.

    a couple of months later a friend introduced me to his roommate who had six phonelines. he let me call friends across the pond and told me it was for free. some of his phonelines moved to a house he rented with a couple of friends in eastern europe when ss7 was introduced here.

    about five years later i had dialup at home and a pretty fast line at the university and read about phreaking and carding and all the stuff that i had seen in that filthy place five years ago.

    reading stuff from the other side of the planet, watching a scene of people spread across the globe. that was pretty amazing.

    and so it is today. many of the topics are different today and everybody adds his or her own motivation to the network, that’s even more remarkable actually.

    .~.

  31. Anonymous says:

    94-95, the porn mags had little ads in the back with dial up numbers for BBS. I tried it on a computer I had been playing strategy games with, and rang up a $134.00 bill in one night with long distance calls. Man, the guys running the BBS’s were tight with the pictures, wanting you to upload as many as you downloaded, and all sorts of shenanigans. Lots of ANSI graphics, and lists that you had to guess at to see if they really had pics or instead were spam (before the word spam was kicking around).
    Months later, I went into a bagel shop where they were charging $2.00 a minute or $5.00 for 15 minutes to use netscape navigator. The guy who had used it in front of me had left the browser open and I just backtracked on what he had been looking at. He had found the Persian Kitty link site, and The Hun. I had a 300 Baud modem and computer in a couple of months. Netscape Navigator 2 was problematic and didn’t last long . Version 3 was better, but way too buggy for my tastes and I switched to IE3 which became the standard for everyone it seemed.
    I started to get grief from everyone, because no one could contact me as my phone line was constantly ringing busy. I got a pager so those who really needed to contact me could.

  32. rsk says:

    A glimpse…in 1977. But only a brief glimpse.

    Two years later, in 1979, a real connection: Usenet, and the ARPAnet.
    Email (with tortuous routing), newsgroups, SF-LOVERS, FTP sites, all that.
    Then CSnet…and BITnet (which was hideous). HUMAN-NETS, pathalias,
    ihnp4, all of it, in a blur that’s led to where we are now. I started
    saving all my email around the early 80′s — should have saved it before
    then. But I have close to thirty years of memories, personal and
    professional, in so many bits.

    What a long strange trip it’s been…

  33. Anonymous says:

    I dug the Internet in 1984, when I read ‘Neuromancer’. I had never actually used the Internet, but I understood the basic idea. BBSes were the social networking sites of the late 1980s. They were fun. I especially liked the site ‘Rat Head’ in Berkeley CA. It had ansi graffic art of Rat Fink getting his brains blown out by a revolver. I thought that was very cool. I first actually experienced the Internet and saw it was real when I was using Usenet in the early 90s, but by then I had already understood.

  34. catrocketship says:

    I grew up in rural Nebraska, but my parents encouraged my nerdiness. When I was 16, very few of my friends had internet — and everyone still had dial-up.

    I’d already been using the internet and email for a reallllly long time (in Internet years. What, are there like 10 internet years to ever human years? I’d say I’d been on the Internet about 20 Internet Years.) But the summer I was 17 I got REALLY into blogging — which wasn’t really blogging yet. It was a rupture.net site I just updated the HTML on every time I wanted to post a bad “poem,” which really meant a journal entry written without any pronouns.

    But my friends could read it — even those in other towns. And the first time I got an email about my site from someone I didn’t know — that did it. I was so excited about being able to share thoughts with a much larger pond than rural Nebraska had to offer.

  35. Bill Beaty says:

    I was on various services in the late 1980s early 90s, Seattle’s infamous “connected.com,” and had just started a home dialup BBS when some guys posted shareware for a web viewer called “NCSA Mosaic,” and mswin interface called Trumpet Winsock.

    My god, this is Gopher/Archie/Veronica, but with PICTURES.

    Ted Nelson’s Hypertext is finally real. And you know what this means? This means we can initiate some really major global memes. Press lightly on just the right spot, then stand back and watch the “fires” spread. What stuff do I have stored up and ready for this? Ah, how about …turn hundreds of innocent little kids into raving Amateur Scientist readers, all worshipping CL Stong? School kids need science fair projects, and when the hoards arrive online, I’ll already be set up and waiting. Maybe I should put up a Tesla Coil page and turn them all into HV fanatic mad scientists. VandeGraaffs and electrostatics too. There’s these weird expensive things called “neodymium supermagnets” which nobody knows about and which only exist in the physics teacher catalogs. Ten dollars for a half-inch magnet. Let’s see if those things catch fire. And oh the darker side: I don’t have time to build and test all these crackpot free energy inventions, so why not try to trigger off a “free energy community” that goes out and does all the work? This will be right next to the educational and science fair stuff, so they can’t miss it. Lets see, what else is lying around here? Leaf blower hovercrafts. Microwave oven experiments, make plasma. Oh and electricity …it’s being explained wrong. And airfoils. Meme effects, so I bet I can sit here making major changes to society without having to write a book or anything! All of them, they will become one of me. When the going gets nerd, the nerds turn pro. Moo hoo ha haaaaaa.
    http://amasci.com/news.html#memes

  36. Ant says:

    When I was a high school senior, a stranger let me borrow his Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) shell account. All I could do was use login, FTP, download/upload into temporary directory, and use Z-modem (sz and rz FTW) to download/upload from my dial-up modem.

    Then, I went to Azusa Pacific University (APU). No Internet services to dormitory/dorm. rooms. In sophmore year, it had three dial-up service numbers (always BUSY and I am mostly on!) for Pine, shell accounts, etc. I discovered TIA (paid for it!) and SLiRP for PPP/SLIP emulation, etc. Then, Internet went boom for me as one of the first home Internet users in this university. :D

  37. Atrum says:

    The first one I remember happened while I was talking to someone on an IRC channel devoted to a play-by-post zombie roleplay I used to take part in. The person I was talking to was in Sweden, and I suddenly had this visualization of just how far apart from each other we were, and yet were still talking. I mentioned this to him, calling it an “OMG INTERNET” moment.

    Good times.

  38. Cydonia says:

    I was pretty young when I got going with internet, in the fourth grade I think. Being ten years old in the early 2000′s, I mainly used it for Neopets and children’s online flash games.
    I’m actually pretty glad that the internet didn’t really explode until I was old enough to use it. For example, I was never too young for a Facebook because it didn’t get really big until I was 14-15 and a freshman in high school.

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