I enjoyed reading Karen Cheng‘s memories of her early experiences on the internet. It brought back memories of the early days of the internet for me too.
Let’s rewind back to the mid 90’s for me.
Picture this – I am an engineering student in my late teens/early 20s at Uni. Not married, no kids, waking up at 12pm, sleeping at 3am.
After a few years of BBS’s, I found that I could SLIP, then PPP using Winsock into the University network. Yes, I could connect to the “internet” via my 28, 33 then 56kbps straw, but what did I do on it?
There was no Google. No Firefox. No blogs. No Dreamweaver or Flash. No Skype. No MSN. No Facebook. No MySpace. No Blogger or WordPress. No Flickr or SmugMug. No personal digital cameras.
In fact, there were “hardly” any webpages or websites. Websites were generally boring ugly text ones. No-one really used the term blog or weblog. A smattering of people had “home pages”. This would be more like a CV or resume online and static information or links to interesting topics, but not much more. If you did searches on the web, you most likely used Altavista or Yahoo. Your browser would be Mozilla or Netscape, or even the text based lynx.
What I used the internet for back then was file transfers through FTP, FSP, gopher or IRC Direct Connect. Posting and reading articles and getting files from news groups using the text based “nn” and uudecoding parts. Talking to others using ytalk and IRC channels. Playing MUD which for me mostly involved killing chickens. Over and over and over again.
Some of us created home pages, hand crafted in HTML. No CSS. The big thing back then to get more visitors to your home page was joining web rings.
I had various home pages that mostly promoted the music I created whilst I was at Uni, but also local Classical music and Club nights in Perth. I remember playing around with different layouts and designs – trying to ensure that my home page was still accessible in “text” in lynx, as well as through graphical browsers. One of my web designs even won an award from Global Web Builders!
After I graduated, I created a home page on iiNet, and maintained something less like a home page and more “like” a blog. I updated it once in a while with news or technology tidbits and to share photos and stories about the kids with other family members. You can still see an early snapshot courtesy of the Internet Wayback Machine here: http://web.archive.org/web/20010424165247/members.iinet.net.au/~jchong/.
Looking at the earliest update dates on my iiNet blog, it was 20 May 1999 – 10 years ago! Miss 10 was obviously a little baby back then…
But last night I did find some backups of my early home pages from the 95-96 era. I am in the process of fixing broken images and links and will post some screen captures soon – they are quite lame!