Internet Membership Kit

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At today's Institute for the Future conference, Code for America's Jen Pahlka reminded me that I may have let my Internet Membership lapse. Fortunately, there is a mint-in-box Internet Membership Kit (1995) on eBay for just $120. I'd say that's a very fair price for "everything you need to cruise the Information Superhighway!"


  1. Don’t forget the Internet Starter Kit by Adam C. Engst, my long-time friend and colleague. The book came with a disk with a SLIP client on it, and a connection to EarthLink, which helped EarthLink get a chunk of its early customers! Good times.

    1. Adam’s book was great! I gifted it to several people!

      I thought the one I posted was funny because of its name.

  2. I remember seeing this in book stores Back In The Day, and feeling a mixture of amusement (“Wow, anyone who buys this is a gullible sucker!”) to deep dismay (“Oh, great, now the Internet is going to fill up with gullible suckers.”)

  3. When frequenting antique stores with my wife I occasionally see “old” computer books and things for sell for what I imagine to be astronomical prices…

  4. @Stefan: I worked for Ventana and contributed to this particular book as a layout artist and technical editor. We sold a ton of them, along with Tom Lichty’s AOL Tour Guide. The people you describe as “gullible sucker(s)” might more charitably be called “nontechnical”. It took a lot more doing to get on the Internet at the time, as I’m sure you’ll recall.

    1.  It was unbelievably difficult to get onto the information highway. 
      You couldn’t even look on the internets how to do it. There weren’t any books about it, but if there had been, how would you have ever known about them? 

        1. Why would you get a book on how to get online online? 

          (And where did you search before AltaVista was publicly launched on December 15, 1995?) 

          I was just recounting how it was when I got here. 

  5. That reminds of a nightmare I had last night… I dreamt that I’d let my Internet membership lapse.  I was so relieved when I woke up!

    1. Dearest Obeyken, I am writing to you from my sincerest heart that your Internet membership did sorrowfully lapse. As nephew of the recently deceased King of the Republic of Chad, my heartthanks go with you, and praise that I am able to come to your aid. If you will kindly send me your banking numbers and credit card informations, along with your PayPal passwords, I will be blessed to renew your membership as soon as possible!! Your Brother in Sympathy, Prince mtdna of Chad

  6. I was the author of the Internet Tour Guide that formed the backbone of this atrocity, along with Harley Hahn’s Internet Yellow Pages and a pamphlet I threw together about the web and Mosaic. (The Internet Tour Guide didn’t predate the web — I was running a web server on a NeXT box at the time — but it predated Mosaic.) I also brokered the deal with the regional networks for SLIP/PPP access for individuals.

    Had a great editor on the project, and the editorial side folks — including Hobbesian — were all incredible. But the business side folks — the brain trust behind this gem — were, well, nevermind.

  7. After a long time I saw a glow in the distance and began to crawl toward it. It was a glowing box and what I now know to be a mouse. I reached out and touched the tiny plastic, tailed object and it clicked

    The glow changed

    I clicked again and it changed again. It was so  . . . reassuring. 

    That was many years ago. The glow and I are good friends. We are never far apart. It doesn’t seem that dark here anymore.

  8. I have Internet Explorer Kit “for Macintosh” – just the thing for someone with a mac on the internet going “Now what do I do?”
    The long rambling wander of FurryMuck is a historical curiosity.

  9. My first job upon moving to Seattle, was working as tech support for Spry, the maker of “Internet in a Box”, in early 1995. I’m so glad those days are long behind me.

  10. We used to sell these at the store I worked in during high school. After the Internet really took off, we had a bunch of them on clearance but nobody in their right mind was willing to pay the $9.95 price for what was essentially a bunch of Freeware software titles.

  11. I can still remember hunkering down at a friend’s appartment with the massive 1200-page “Internet Unleashed” book in early ’94. It took us a few hours, but we eventually got onto the internet. Then we were all like “OK, now what?”. We ended up turning off the computer and watching TV, feeling foolish that we’d been so excited over nothing.

    1. My experience mirrored yours almost exactly.   I remember working well into the night to connect to the internet with my acoustically coupled modem.  When I finally managed to get up and running and had Mosaic fired up, there was a huge feeling of accomplishment, followed by an even bigger letdown.  All the information I’d heard about being available seemed sparse, at best.  I tried accessing several academic institutions and found pretty slim pickings.  Then I visited Boing Boing, and complained about it all.

      Edit:  I think I may have left out the middle part of my experience on the internet, as that part is somewhat hazier.

      1.  Yup. In 1992 we had one computer at my school with a connection to Prodigy. (Prodigy!) Much was made of it. When I got to use Prodigy and tried to look something up in the Prodigy encyclopedia … I got like three short sentences of information, and that was it. I remember thinking “This is stupid. There’s a lot more in the Encyclopedia Britannica in the library.” Trying to access the news and the almanac gave the same results. I failed to see what the big deal was.

  12. Internet Membership Kit?  Well I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.

  13. Oh wow, I think I had one of those, and the internet starter kit Glenn posted above. Also had something along the lines of a “for dummies” type book for using prodigy or aol, and a business book on what the internet would do for customer service. Oh! and a book on starting my own dial up BBS. But I was late to the party on that one; just as I was about to really get that going AOL and Prodigy became all the rage and I knew BBSs were going the way of the dodo.
    I wonder if I still have any of these. It’d be funny to see what has changed or not over the years.

    *sigh* I miss some of the stuff from that era. Even the horribly ugly websites that everyone (including me) made with the patterned backgrounds under blinking neon text, tables for layout, and under-construction signs for pages that were always “coming soon.” 

    Excuse me while I go dig up “You’ve got mail” and play that bit where Meg Ryan connects to AOL and you hear all the hissy chirpy  modem sounds and then AOL tells her she has mail…

  14. …and my restless sleep was filled with the nightmare sounds of  modems connecting…

    Odyssey BBS…Where adults come to play!

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