Before Coffee: 21st Century Neanderthal

August 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

The World Wide Web turns 25 today. Which means I was 24 when it opened its virtual doors to the public in 1991. (It actually took a few more years for it to become truly public, i.e., used by more than a few dozen CERN folk, but the news calls it for today so who am I to argue.)

I’d been using the Internet for at least five years at that point. Message boards, email. I set up and was the admin for the movie discussion board on Tri-State Online, a local message board hosted by the University of Cincinnati.

I had the online handle “Lestat,” because I was big into Anne Rice at the time and thought Lestat was so cool. Don’t laugh, it worked; I met and dated a woman through that site, long before Match.com and Tinder and whatever new dating app the kids are using these days.

I logged on to TSO (as we called it) over the copper phone lines (sorry, no fiber optics back then), via a 2400 baud modem that physically attached with wires and plugs (no WiFi, either) to my Commodore 64—the cheapest computer you could get back then, and so named for its 64k of RAM.

Yes, kilobytes, not megabytes and definitely not the unfathomable-at-the-time gigabytes. And yes, RAM; there were no internal hard drives back then. Everything was stored on floppy disks. (I’ve talked about all this before.)

All of which seems, today, like the 90s version of stone knives and bearskins.

I’m basically an Internet neanderthal.


The author accesses the Internet, circa 1991. (Photo credit: Nikola Solic  /  Reuters file)

neanderthal

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