Question of the Day

The following clip from an episode from 1994 of The Today Show where Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric are trying to make sense of this thing called “the internet” has been making the rounds. Here it is if you haven’t seen it.

So when did you first start using this internet thing?

I think I first got online in 1994 by using Compuserve. Oh, those were the days. Zipping around Webcrawler on a speedy 14.4 Kb/s modem on my new 90 Mhz Pentium running Windows 3.11 for Workgroups.


  1. 1995, AOL on a Mac Classic and Powerbook 150 via 33.6 modem. Used AOL free trials for about a year then found a private ISP that I stayed with until 2003 and cable internet, so glad to ditch 56k modems.

  2. In 1994 or 1995, in highschool, I had a class that got privileges to go over to the university, to a private computer lab, and see this “world wide web” thing. I specifically remember going to Yahoo with the Mosaic browser.

  3. I don’t remember exactly when, but it was dial-up, and I had to take care to conceal my… viewing habits from the family, which was a challenge considering the only computer in the house was in a public space with no doors, and anyone online would frequently be asked for use of the phone line.

  4. Used e-mail and Mosaic at UCLA in around 1994. I worked at the University Research Library—which as of yet was the only thing ever referred to as a URL—and the first thing I did many mornings was have e-mail conversations with a friend at Humbolt University in Berlin. My morning coffee and her afternoon kaffee, both of us looking into 8-bit CRTs.

  5. I got on Compuserve in 1988, but there was no “web” then. My husband-at-the-time and I thought it was wonderful! Read and download news and stuff, perfect show prep as we were both on radio. Then the bill came. We racked up several hundred dollars in per-minute Compuserve charges and since there was no local access number, hundreds more in long distance phone charges! We didn’t read text on Compuserve after that; just downloaded it to print. Which took forever.

    When I left him, I lost custody of the computer and discovered the web when I went to a new radio station that had internet access in 1993. It was fascinating, so I had to buy another computer.

  6. 1990, with phosphorescent green screens and a user-hostile app called “Mail.” Soon my eyes would bleed from playing hours upon hours of ASCII “Conquer.”

  7. During the late 80’s, as a high schooler, I spent many lonely nights on my aging Apple //c connected to AppleLink with a US Robotics modem (don’t remember the blazing data rate). Chatting in virtual rooms, playing chess with people in other countries, etc. I can still remember the day when a floppy disk arrived in the mail with a letter that said AppleLink had been absorbed by some other company and that I should now install this software called America Online.

  8. I remember sitting on my grandfather’s lap in what would have been 1984 as he checked his stocks via the Dow Jones News online service. Not really the internet, though, which I didn’t actually witness until 1989 in the form of usenet and gopher when my father got a Compuserve account.

  9. “Ooh, they have the Internet on computer now?”
    -Homer J Simpson

    Back around 1992 a friend was telling me about the “Information Superhighway”:
    “Every home and every business will have a computer workstation, and all the workstations will be connected to each other. You’ll be able to read the news and see video clips right on your computer. You’ll also be able to shop, pay your bills, and send letters to each other instantly.”

    My response? “Yeah, right. Like that will happen in our lifetime…. (then, mockingly) ‘Jane, how do you stop this crazy thing??!!’

  10. I’d say about 1994 or 95. We had an Amiga and used a local ISP for a while, though my Dad used compuserve too, some. I remember Gopher and the first time I saw a web browser it was netscape. and yes 14.4 speeds.

  11. I believe it was 1995 or 1996. My family first tried the AOL dial-up dealie with those old floppy disks they were always sending. Then we moved onto a full-time dial-up company in ’96 or ’97.

  12. Spring of ’93, probably a little before that. I’m not sure which computer it was on, but I know it was our second one after the Commodore 128.

    I tried, and failed, my high school frosh baseball team and went home to dial up with Prodigy at 14.4 (sometimes 24 or 28 kbps if we were lucky). I’m not sure what I was reading, maybe baseball scores, maybe Playboy, who knows.

  13. I still have my old Hayes 1200 baud modem. (still useful nowadays, I use it to program alarm panels)

    My first internet access was in ’95. At middle school we had P100s running Windows 3.11, and a fractional T1. Round about the same time I got a brand new P166 running Win 95 and a 33.6 modem. I think we had 100 hours/month included in our dialup package, boy did my dad get pissed when he got the bill for 300 hours…

  14. ’95 or ’96, don’t remember the specs of the family computer but I do remember the painfully slow dial-up (which my parents finally upgraded just a couple of years ago).

  15. The actual TCP/IP Internet? ’90 or ’91 when the place I worked for at the time found out that they could get support for the U*ix style OS they were using through some wonderous channels called email and usenet.

    I learned it like everyone else, thought about learning the guts of the protocols and decided that it was probably too specialized a system to make becoming a guru worth the effort.

    “I mean, let’s be realistic, only a few tens of thousands of techies are ever going to use this.”

  16. My introduction to the internet was in 1987 while doing grad work at Oregon State. I used it to play on a Thinking Machines CM2 at Carnegie Mellon.

  17. It was probably about 1995 or 1996, via AOL dial-up, on a home-built IBM clone (hubby built & sold them to business clients). In 1997, hubby passed away, and I thank dog for the Internet and AOL’s chat rooms. They saved my sanity, since someone was always there in the middle of the night to chat with when I couldn’t sleep for grief; and I got so much incredible support and sympathy. I stayed with dial-up until I married Machead second hubby, who upgraded us to cable internet.

  18. I was a tad late arriving on the scene in 97. I’m ashamed to admit it, but my first Internet experience was on America Online. Thankfully I ditched that a LONG time ago and got me a good DSL. There’s still new people arriving fresh on the Internet all the time, which might explain why AOL and Yahoo! are still around… 🙂

  19. I love the era where newscasters sat back on couches and talked about something they knew very little about for a long time while an omniscient producer chimed in with the answer from off-camera.

  20. 1998 or ’99, on my mother’s Pentium I. It was dialup for a looooong time, since Belgium was very slow in catching up with the IT race. Before that, my only source of games and software was diskettes we exchanged and CD-ROMs from computer magazines.
    The porn consisted of 30-second Quicktime clips that had to be downloaded one at a time, or 640×480 pictures. I spent countless hours on IRC, too.
    Also, Internet was invaluable in learning proper English.

  21. Mine was sometime around 1993. My dad got a Zenith Z-Lite notebook (small even by today’s netbook standards) and we made the leap from DOS 3.3 to Windows 3.1.

    We had a 2400bps modem and first connected to Delphi before switching over to Compuserve and then AOL within the next year or two.

  22. 1982, in graduate school, doing command-line searching on Dialog (the first commercial database aggregator, which predated the Internet). Decwriter tractor-feed paper terminals, with acoustic-coupler modems dialing into local Tymnet and Telenet nodes at a ripping 300 baud; had to manually reset the duplex and parity on the thing everytime you turned it on. Plus you had to pay for each search according to how many minutes you were connected to the server, plus how many citations (not full articles) you displayed, so every minute was fraught with anxiety – each mistake you made could cost your company $50! Ah, happy days! Kids today don’t know what they’ve missed.

  23. I was on some really nerdy bulletin board thingy in high school in the eighties. Then my parents got a Prodigy account in the nineties. I still remember the drawer that box stayed in.

    Then nothing until 2000 or so, when I struggled to cancel my boyfriend’s AOL and get him onto my more Mac friendly Earthlink.

    I think I used the “getting the pee out of the pool” phrase with the Earthlink people as to why I couldn’t get rid of AOL.

  24. I don’t remember exactly when, but it would have been early ’90s, first with local BBSs, then the Sierra Network (later, shortly, ImagiNation). It wasn’t until I went to college in ’95, though, that I enountered the web.

Comments are closed.