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How I Met the Internet
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Rambler has a very interesting post asking "When did you first go online" and talking about his own experiences.

Bad as I am at recalling dates, I'm not sure what year I got online at home. I don't think it was earlier than 1994 and it might well have been 1995. However, I had a taste of something like the Internet at work, years before I even owned a personal computer.

During the latter half of the eighties, Lawyers Cooperative Publishing equipped the offices of its legal editors with Wang computer terminals. Henceforth we would produce texts by means of electronic word processing rather than the paper system of shallow cardboard boxes filled with narrow slips of variously colored paper (identifying text, footnotes, references and so forth) that could be shuffled around with relative ease.

Through the terminals we had access to the Lexis/Nexis (if it was called that at the time) database for legal research purposes but it was also possible, for a while, to search through various magazines and newspapers. That amazed me and I used to do more newspaper reading than I probably should have.

Lexis/nexis was all text and not actually the Internet. When I finally did get online for real and from home I did so via AOL. Right away I felt confined. Where was this vast worldwide web all the magazines and newspapers were hyping? Out beyond the walls of AOL apparently.

In those days subscribers were supposed to be content to mostly ramble around the AOL neighborhood. It took an effort to travel outside. In order to accomplish this, I had been supplied with a WinWeb browser. There's nothing like trying to cruise down the Information Superhighway on a riding mower.

The first thing I saw when I fired up WinWeb and peered around me into the infinite depths of cyberspace the word "Yahoo!" And I thought, WTF. Well, no, actually I didn't think WTF because that's something I only picked up years later off the web, but whatever the equivalent was back then, that's what I thought. I had been hearing how all human knowledge was out there now for the taking, and instant communication, and what do I see? "Yahoo!"

And for whatever reason I couldn't get anywhere. Sites, when they did appear, might as well have been coming through the phone wires in the form of molasses rather than electrons. So I discounted the whole thing as typical media exaggeration, kept my AOL account for a few weeks and ignored it pretty much except for email. Then I got the phone bill. For all the time spent on long distance when the local connection hadn't been available. Unknown to me.

I immediately canceled AOL and switched to a local provider. They gave me a decent connection and a Netscape (I think) browser. To my amazement there actually were all sorts of wonders on the web. As well as an endless amount of debris to which I immediately began to contribute and haven't stopped yet.

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