When did you first hear about the internet?

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This topic contains 26 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  Mark Hammer 5 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #155774

    Shannon Kennedy
    Participant

    According to CenturyLink, recent numbers say that every second there are 7.9 new internet users somewhere in the world. That blew my mind! I first heard about the internet when I was 7 years old back in 1995. My family didn’t get our first internet connection installed in our house in 1999. Once we did, it felt like we had entered a new age…and we had.


    When did you first hear about the internet?

    When did you first gain access to the internet?

    CenturyLink (formerly Qwest Communications) is a proud partner of GovLoop and is committed to the communication missions of state, local and federal governments. Its concept of operations is driven by an unwavering commitment to provide best-in-class customer service. CenturyLink is positioned to support your mission objectives with global reach, expanded network and financial strength. Check out the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.
  • #155826

    Mark Hammer
    Participant

    March 1985 I was working in a lab out on Vancouver Island that was collaborating with a lab at Georgia Tech. We would send files back and forth via “the network”. I think it was BitNet. Obviously it was entirely text-based.

    The neat thing was that it showed you how the data was being relayed from station to station. It would go from Vancouver to Edmonton to Saskatoon to Waterloo to Cinncinnati to Pittsburgh and finally to Atlanta. There were probably a few other stops along the way that I’ve forgotten, but it was kinda cool to see that the data was here, now there, now there, etc.

    Primitive by contemporary standards, but several orders of magnitude faster and more efficient than communicating with the computing center via 300 baud acoustic coupler modem when I started in grad school almost a decade earlier.

  • #155824

    Corey McCarren
    Participant

    I couldn’t quantify it with a year, but I do remember thinking the entire Internet was AOL.com. My parents didn’t realize they could cancel the AOL subscription until like a year ago. They tried explaining to no avail that they still use AOL Mail and therefore need the subscription!

    Edit: Actually having said that I really do hope they cancelled that subscription…

  • #155822

    Mary Yang
    Participant

    According to some stats, AOL still had 3.5 million subscribers. Crazy, huh?

  • #155820

    I was about 12 when we got our first household computer. This was back in 1994 and we had Prodigy. I have to admit I still sometimes get nostalgic for that dial-up sound … though I am glad we don’t operate at those (slow) speeds anymore. I would never be able to get any work done!

  • #155818

    Corey McCarren
    Participant

    Yes! I’m sure almost the majority are just people who have forgotten or are too lazy to cancel it, too. I couldn’t imagine anyone still using that platform.

  • #155816

    Allison Primack
    Participant

    I think the first time I heard about the internet was in 1998 – I remember my elementary school trying to explain it to us in our school library. I didn’t have it at home until years later, and didn’t get wireless service until I went to college in 2007!

  • #155814

    Pamela Corey
    Participant

    Most of these replies make me feel old! I first heard of the internet was in 1993. When I was in grad school and living in Blacksburg, VA, Virginia Tech gave away free access as Blacksburg was one of the first “digital cities” and anyone living in the city could get free access. I was hooked from the beginning. I too sometimes get nostalgic for the sound of a dial-up modem….

  • #155812

    Sandy Ressler
    Participant

    Around 1977 or 78 I found out about the “ARPAnet” while at Rutgers, didn’t really understand what it was or use it but some computer science friends were starting to send email (which I sorta new about but didn’t have anyone to talk to). Then I also saw around 1978 or 79 an ftp session where I specifically remember my friend logging into a computer in the UK and he was just typing and chatting with someone also. (I believe the command was called TALK). I didn’t start to regularly use email until 1980 at Bell Labs.

    so yes to get the point …I’m old 😉

  • #155810

    Carl Webb
    Participant

    It was September of 1995 and an internet cafe opened in San Antonio.

  • #155808

    Katt Hancher
    Participant

    I’m going to guess 1995 or 1996 before I really understood that the “World Wide Web” existed for anyone to explore. What I remember most clearly was the first time I accessed it and how overwhelmed I was! Later, in 1998, I took a job for which I was a provided a computer with access to the web and I would come in early every day just to explore!

  • #155806

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    Was working at the “Navy Public Works Center San Francisco Bay” in 1992 and I suggested to the commanding officer that we could have a home page on the internet. Not sure the Commander new what the internet was, but he gave me the go ahead to publish and maintain it.

    It grew to include an online management of Navy Engineer documentation and cost evaluation of various Public Works projects.

    I and a staff of 3 maintained it until the summer of 1996 when we were all transferred due to a Base Realignment And Closure.

  • #155804

    Joy Moskovic
    Participant

    I used modem-based DOS online research tools way back in 1987. I remember going on the training course and the big story we were looking up were the rumours that Wayne Gretzky was about to be traded to the LA Kings.

    World Wide Web was on one dedicated computer running Mosaic in about 1994-95. At home, I had a modem with a DOS-based Freenet account.

  • #155802

    Dory Dahlberg
    Participant

    I’m with you- feeling old! I first remember using the internet in 1995 in college. I believe we were using Netscape. Email was the best though. It was like magic sending messages to my girlfriends who were going to school elsewhere. I can’t recall the name of our email system but I think it was closed to just MN colleges and universities. Things have changed so quickly! My daughter began using the internet around age 3 and to her its no different than TV or the microwave.

  • #155800

    Jeff S
    Participant

    When I worked for Compuserve in 1986. Employment gave me access but I only checked it out a couple of times back then.

  • #155798

    Allison Primack
    Participant

    Here are some responses from GovLoop’s Facebook Page:

    Jennifer Brand ‎1995 at home; probably 3-4 years before that we were using it at school


    Bob Burns A friend of mine had Prodigy in 1987, or 88. I was fascinated. I left for the Army in 1988 and was stationed in Germany and the only computers we had were Commodore 64s. There were no internet connections that I was aware of. When I got out the Army and went to college in 1991, I promptly jumped into some kind of primitive DOS chat. I can’t recall the service or name. It was 91 or 92 I think…

    Kathy Markham Late 80s-early 90s. Was working on pages for first job in 94. I was also one of the first shoppers on this little startup called Amazon! 😉
    James Michael Caton Does BBS count? 1986.
  • #155796

    Allison Primack
    Participant

    And here is an additional response from GovLoop’s LinkedIN Group:

    Randy LarsonI first heard about the Internet in approximately 1995-1996. I tried to log into a website from a work computer and was asked to provide a credit card number, so that ended that.A couple years later I switched jobs and that organization was just starting to use the Internet for business purposes. I got my first home computer approximately seven years ago.

  • #155794

    Taking a look at the article, AOL still has 3.5 million “dial-up” users, which I believe is the only chargeable service that AOL still has (it has been free to users who already have a broadband connection for several years). It seems like on dial-up you would have to go to a mobile website to get any sort of performance at all, and even then, wouldn’t it take forever? Lol

  • #155792

    Mark Hammer
    Participant

    Major props, Sandy! 🙂

    You didn’t mention, though, was this via a video screen, or via a teletype? The university labs I was working in at the time were pretty much all teletype-based. The idea of watching that little IBM Selectric ball-head move across the page, and working in an entirely text/character-based environment, rather than graphical environment must seem like science fiction to most of the kids here. I’ll leave the recurring nightmare of “dropping your cards on the way to the computing center” (an anxiety of a particular time and place), or the task of entering the bootload program manually…in octal…every morning, for another time.

  • #155790

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    While my first home computer was a Commodore 64 in 1982, I didn’t really get into the “internet” until 1985. At the time there were more like Internets vs an internet, but we used Lane 9000 telex computers to send text based messages around the world. I was working for a small oil brokerage firm called Glander International as part of a summer job before college opened in September.

    Throughout college, I worked with IBM compatibles, Macintosh SE’s and Mac II’s as the “Systems Manager” on the local newspaper staff. We shared data streams and even graphics files between computers locally and between schools via the main frames, but there was a lot of bubble gum and shoe strings holding those transmissions together. Computers did not send and receive messages well without dumping everything to ASCII, and parity checks were often trial and error. Personal computers were largely stand alone.

    It was probably late 1993 when we started messing around with HTTP and what is commonly recognized as “the internet” today. We got our first shipment of servers and connected the Naval Base in Puerto Rico with servers in Bethesda. Our networks grew fast & we were running around telling non-believers that the future was here.

    At home, our computers dialed up 300 baud connections to AOL, and we chatted with strangers via strings of text in chat rooms – or made posts on bulletin boards. It was cool to figure out where everyone was from and what they were into. I think we all felt like pioneers back then.

  • #155788

    1970s I worked for a company who had a large computer in a sterile room and a computer technician. I was one of the few people who took an interest in learning how to get data from the computer. It was connected to the internet.

    I didn’t get actual direct access until the 80s when another company I worked for brought in the first PC for the company. I knew all the technicians for our mainframe activities and had learned some minor programming to get adhoc reports. My boss recommended me to get this first PC because I was probably the only one who was not a computerphobe. There was no IT staff to do the installations, burn in the computer, etc., so I became a techie in support of my work. Then I had to work with programmers to convert the mainframe programs to PC formats. This launched me into full on programming, systems development and project management while I was working as a contracts administrator.

    The 90s I worked for Infonet, the cloud, programming invoicing based on contracts for products that sales sold because the customer wanted it. The programmers were developing code to produce the products based on demand and I followed up to invoice the customers. Because it was an international company I was aware of the internet opening up around the world. When the Berlin wall came down, people drove hundreds of miles to get a connection to the internet. It was magical. I loved talking to all those people who were connecting for the first time.

  • #155786

    Scott Burns
    Participant

    Their customers are undoubtedly dying off very quickly. I’m sure many of them are already dead, but have some kind of autopayment still in place.

  • #155784

    Scott Burns
    Participant

    I was in college and remember a conversation with a friend where we were both really impressed that the college created this new “Yahoo” site that we had access to from school computers. Turns out my college IT team was not quite as innovative as I thought, and I was really out on the Internet. I figured it out after a couple weeks– must have been around 1995. Prior to that, we used Gopher at school which seemed pretty useful at the time, but would be pretty funny now.

    First exposure to email was when I arrived on campus at college in 1993. My school (Dartmouth in New Hampshire) supposedly had the first on campus email and everyone called email “Blitzmail” so we would send each other “Blitzes.” People would run into each other at parties and say “Blitz me.” I’m really glad that name is dead.

  • #155782

    Joshua Aaron DeLung
    Participant

    1992, when we got our Tandy computer running a combination of MS-DOS and Windows 3.1.

    The Internet then was still the BBS style connection to your ISP for a few text-based chats and things like that. Netscape Navigator allowed me to browse the (much-smaller) Web. Dialup Internet was the norm all the way until 2003 when I went to college because I lived in such a rural area.

    It really is amazing to think about how far it has all come. I count myself lucky to be in the unique position of the generation that spent some time without the Internet as a young child but then saw it evolve as I grew up. Now my job almost entirely exists on the Internet!

  • #155780

    Sandy Ressler
    Participant

    thanks! I think it was mostly video actually…a DEC VT100 I think (just looked that up). I remember teletypes around but we didn’t use em much.

  • #155778

    Mark Hammer
    Participant

    Just as well you didn’t. We had a service contract with Digital for $15k/yr, and considering the teletype broke down every 2nd week, took 20hrs of tech time to repair, and they charged $100hr, we came out way ahead.

    I remember VT100s well. I think that’s what eventually showed up in the computing center and student labs. Hats off to 5 x 7 character generators!

  • #155776

    Martha Garvey
    Participant

    1981. I worked at Carnegie Mellon University as a very young writer-editor. I wrote and edited my copy in something called Word11, had to walk up a half a building to get to a printer. I got to work around people who were developing artificially intelligent robots, painters who were making their paintings…slowly…from programs on massive servers in giant rooms. I met barefoot 14-year-olds who were already geniuses (why should they put their shoes on? They never left the Computer Science building), and learned about flaming from a professor who was studying it, along with “asynchronous communication” in the 80s.

    I fell in love with connectivity and all its possibilities back then. I couldn’t wait for the rest of the world to catch up to this glimpse of the future. I’ve been disappointed in the past, but remain deeply hopeful that the whole world will eventually be connected.

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