When did you first use the internet?

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

Poll Closing Date: Tuesday, 1 February 2022 00:00 (in 1 week)

If you can remember. Can you?

I was too young to remember
While attending elementary school
While attending middle school
While attending high school
While attending college
While studying for an advanced degree
At one of my first jobs
Unclear, but my intent was to find a clip of the SNL Jesse Jackson “The Question Is Moot” sketch, that shit is funny

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 2 January 2022 16:23 (two weeks ago) link

I’d just gotten to college, it was August 1995. 18 years old. I’d heard of the internet, of course, but until I was in my dorm room with my brand new computer plugged in and connected to the internet I’d never been on it. Holy shit. I had an email account, and if I knew someone else’s email address I could reach out and touch them in seconds. Websites were kind of a mess, but … websites! And porn! And there were these embedding files on some sites - you clicked one, you’d hear a song.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 2 January 2022 16:27 (two weeks ago) link

After uni but not thru work

Khafre's clown (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 2 January 2022 16:29 (two weeks ago) link

Voted “other” because it was not at school or a job but a few years after college when I got my first home PC and modem. I believe 1994. The next year, ‘95, was when I first worked in a newsroom with web access — there was ONE terminal in the whole newsroom of about 60 people, so you had to sign up for it in half-hour shifts.

Not really the Internet, but I took a college class on computer networks in 1989 so I could keep having access to the computer lab there. Once I logged on to my first BBS, I was hooked. I moved in with the man I would marry in 1992, bought a computer right away, signed up with CompuServe and some local BBSs, started using the Internet in 1994, and never looked back.

Christine Green Leafy Dragon Indigo, Sunday, 2 January 2022 16:39 (two weeks ago) link

I'm not 100% sure. I know I was getting into using it on a government education course back in 1999. I think I was thinking of myself asa late comer at the point. But I was getting really heavily into using it. May have meant i didn't study the sound engineering I was supposed to be doing a beginners class in as much as i should have done. But I did go on tyo do an access course for 3rd level education at the point which is one of the reasons i wound up at university.
Read a lot about music .

Stevolende, Sunday, 2 January 2022 17:04 (two weeks ago) link

University, back in 1993.

Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Sunday, 2 January 2022 17:06 (two weeks ago) link

i think i was 9 years old when we got dial-up internet, mid-90s

ciderpress, Sunday, 2 January 2022 17:35 (two weeks ago) link

think i first used aol at a friend-of-the-family’s house while i was in elementary school (i had to have been at least 9 or 10 though). shortly thereafter my dad got the internet hooked up at his office and i would use his computer to pretty much exclusively browse the official nintendo website

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Sunday, 2 January 2022 17:39 (two weeks ago) link

we got Prodigy when I was in middle school, possibly as early as 1990 or 91? I have some very embarrassing memories of posting to fantasy fan boards there

rob, Sunday, 2 January 2022 17:47 (two weeks ago) link

I’d just gotten to college, it was August 1995. 18 years old.

Ha nearly the same - freshman year of college Sept 1995 and I was 17. My friend showed me how you could talk to people in Australia in chat rooms. My mind was blown. Used it very rarely in college and only really for email in the computer labs. Never had it in my dorm. Really started using it at my first temp job after college. I remember staring at yahoo thinking “I can look up anything?!” and then searching for random shit.

Benson and the Jets (ENBB), Sunday, 2 January 2022 17:53 (two weeks ago) link

I was about 15. Is that high school? We were among the first people I knew to get the internet. I remember copying urls out of music magazines so I only went to about 5 websites, mainly about Suede.

kinder, Sunday, 2 January 2022 17:56 (two weeks ago) link

I guess I have to put while attending college. In 1993 no one in my orbit would have used the terms internet or WWW or web, though there we knew of a scattering of things like BBSes, Usenet, gopher, newsgroups, listservs, and email.

In my last semester of college (1993) I sent and received a few dozen emails, with either academic or romantic intent (sometimes both).

Someone tried to get me interested in what I suppose in retrospect must have been a MUD? Maybe? I recoiled from it because it was suffused with a type of fantasy fandom that was not (and is not) my thing. It smelled of loser neckbeard uncles who lived in their parents' basements, worked at Radio Shack, and imagined themselves to be Hobbits. Stereotyping wildly here but - alas - accurately.

My first post-college jobs - 1994 through 1996 - had some internet use but it was limited. By 1998 or so the internet started to smell less like D&D-playing uncles and started to be something everyone could embrace.

; (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:00 (two weeks ago) link

Other - I was on various BBS's and a service called Delphi from 1990 on for fun from a home desktop PC (3rd "real" job at this point - all required using terminals mainly, but at this one we each had a DOS desktop PC) and decided I would learn this html stuff when I first heard about it in 1993. Built a basic personal website on NetZone (at the time, a Phoenix based isp) and never looked back.

Jaq, Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:01 (two weeks ago) link

I remember reading in the newspaper some time early/mid 1993 about the world wide web and the mosaic browser. I was fairly computer savvy at least regarding home computers, not just games but graphics, music, shareware, but this I had no idea about and I had the real and scary sense that I was getting left behind. Then that autumn I went to uni and quickly got up to speed, had my own website by 94.

two sleeps till brooklyn (ledge), Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:13 (two weeks ago) link

I first used the internet in 1995 at my job as a technical writer, age 40, long past my school days and first jobs. Voted 'Other'.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:19 (two weeks ago) link

I was in first grade in San Antonio. I remember my dad showing it to me. He knew we liked the Simpsons so he pulled up a Simpsons newsgroup where everyone was speculating on who shot Mr. Burns. So uh…whatever year that was

frogbs, Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:23 (two weeks ago) link

the internet or the world wide web? if it's the latter, 1991

Punster McPunisher, Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:24 (two weeks ago) link

I’m really glad I didn’t get online until well after HS. It’s destroyed my attention span enough as is and I can’t imagine having to navigate all of the social media stuff as a teen.

Benson and the Jets (ENBB), Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:26 (two weeks ago) link

I first used it during college in the mid-to-late 90s, but didn't truly wrap my head around its significance until I got my first professional job. I didn't own a computer with internet connectivity until 2001.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:32 (two weeks ago) link

Freshman in high school, 1996. The first thing from the internet I ever saw was that picture of the Oswald killing with superimposed instruments, which my history teacher had printed off and taped to the blackboard (or whiteboard—it was around that time that schools were switching).

Sam Weller, Sunday, 2 January 2022 18:33 (two weeks ago) link

lol, another 'freshman year of college '95' responder here.

I halfheartedly tried to get online via some Commodore 64 thing several years earlier but it didn't work for me.

Rep. Cobra Commander (R-TX) (Old Lunch), Sunday, 2 January 2022 19:00 (two weeks ago) link

That first 'net experience was via some text-only interface (green text on a black screen) where every image just said IMAGE. Still felt pretty amazing.

Rep. Cobra Commander (R-TX) (Old Lunch), Sunday, 2 January 2022 19:02 (two weeks ago) link

I used Prodigy in 1991-1992, was a 5th grader

ar uni, 1994

my friend showed me Addicted To Noise and for like months it was the only thing i looked at because i didnt know any other sites and i still didnt fully understand what “the internet” was

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 2 January 2022 19:08 (two weeks ago) link

*at uni

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 2 January 2022 19:09 (two weeks ago) link

Addicted to Noise was a great site iirc, and a huge influence on my music listening/understanding in the mid-90s!

We were another early-adopting Prodigy household, so between that and BBSes, I was very familiar with modems and going 'online' around age 9 or 10 I would say. Then by 12 or 13, I was using Usenet FAQs to bone up on things like the X-Men, MST3K and Magic: The Gathering. That last would have been circa spring/summer of 1994. Around that same time I must have been getting familiar with some form of "the web," because I can remember it being a big deal that we could download the first couple pages of Generation X #1 (November 1994) from the official Marvel site, with staggering slowness.

I Am Fribbulus (Xax) (Doctor Casino), Sunday, 2 January 2022 19:20 (two weeks ago) link

played a lot of BBS door games like Legend of the Red Dragon and Exitilus

oh i also started actively using usenet around the same time (alt.music.pearl-jam) but weirdly didnt think of it as being part the internet, lol

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 2 January 2022 19:36 (two weeks ago) link

My earliest Usenet post seems to have been made in 1992.

I was working on campus and wrangled an account on a CS server so I could dial in and use telnet. Soon after that Gopher became a big deal. Gradually my workplace brought in PCs and Macs, set up a LAN, and connected us all to the campus network, and I was able to run Mosaic. By 1994 I was setting up little web servers and sites.

Brad C., Sunday, 2 January 2022 19:39 (two weeks ago) link

I think the first place I saw the www was at the Cyberia internet cafe in 1995. Having used BBSs and Prestel since the mid 80s I remember being mostly surprised at how you could have multiple browser windows open.


feed me with your clicks (Noel Emits), Sunday, 2 January 2022 19:47 (two weeks ago) link

I would have been about 7 or 8, maybe like 1996. Is that elementary school in American?

a hoy hoy, Sunday, 2 January 2022 20:06 (two weeks ago) link

around age 10, 1995 probably. my best friend's family had had a computer since maybe 93, which was rare among people I knew, and they got I think aol online a couple years later. friend and I didn't really know what to do with the internet but iirc the main 'portal' thing when you logged on made it super easy to join chatrooms, so that's pretty much all we did.

sometime around 1997 my own family got a computer and internet. I racked up a huge bill (metered dialup!) downloading Simpsons gifs/images (or at least that's what my parents claimed, in hindsight could have been a cover up for one of their own (lbr, dad's) seedier bandwidth uses). I think we moved to fibre not too long after.

salsa shark, Sunday, 2 January 2022 20:14 (two weeks ago) link

probably 1982, dial-up modem connections to a university server where we could play ACSII variants of Donkey Kong

chaos goblin line cook (sleeve), Sunday, 2 January 2022 20:30 (two weeks ago) link

(high school)

chaos goblin line cook (sleeve), Sunday, 2 January 2022 20:31 (two weeks ago) link

1987. I was 22 and an undergrad in college. Was already pretty experienced at BBSing and computer communication in general.

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 2 January 2022 21:19 (two weeks ago) link

If we're counting BBSs then 1994 for me. I already had a home PC, and then got a 14.4k dialup modem and tried a few BBSs but it felt weird and disconnected. Also had a go at those short lived pre-internet protocols like Archie. Then I got an email address and unix access thru college just as WWW/mosaic and all that tok off. I remember browsing Polyester Records website via a TEXT browser in Linux. And getting into arguments with neckbeards on the RMIT boards because I wasnt a compsci student so how dare I be allowed on their turf.

I find it hard to believe anyone was on any forums/using dialup modems in 1982 though!?

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Sunday, 2 January 2022 22:55 (two weeks ago) link

Like, that feels like its even pre "War Games" and that was using one of those old coupler devices.

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Sunday, 2 January 2022 22:56 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah are we counting "walled garden" computer services that were only connected to other computers in a BBS or subscription service? If so, then highschool with Qlink on a Commodore 64.

For the "real" internet as in connecting to anyone anywhere, then college.

A Pile of Ants (Boring, Maryland), Sunday, 2 January 2022 23:02 (two weeks ago) link

In grad school in 1995, I remember searching for information useful to my thesis. In the 80s, I knew a friend who would log onto a BBS but I don't think of that as the internet per se.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 2 January 2022 23:33 (two weeks ago) link

I find it hard to believe anyone was on any forums/using dialup modems in 1982 though!?

I don't specifically recall any forums in 1982 when we did the dialup stuff (we were definitely on phone modems though, 2600 baud fuck yeah), and yeah this was a password-protected university server, which to me counts as "the internet"? My mom was sending actual email through ARPAnet in the late 70s and my dad definitely had a Compuserve account by '82, it was all happening.

chaos goblin line cook (sleeve), Sunday, 2 January 2022 23:40 (two weeks ago) link

Dunno what these schools are tbh

I would guess at my aunts house in 1995 aged 13 or 14 and i remember the scenario but not the items searched - v likely some video game walkthrough or cheats etc

pandmac (darraghmac), Sunday, 2 January 2022 23:45 (two weeks ago) link

Discovered IRC in January 1993 while in college.

Some college-aged neighbors took me to the university in the very early 80s and we played Eureka and some other early games on the university mainframe, but I don't know if it involved the Internet at all.

ma dmac's fury road (PBKR), Sunday, 2 January 2022 23:46 (two weeks ago) link

Was exposed to Compunet on the Commodore 64 in the UK sometime around 1986.

First got email at work in 1995, then internet access a year or so later.

visiting, Monday, 3 January 2022 00:02 (two weeks ago) link

Earliest non-work use of the internet that I can remember was the All Music Guide.

visiting, Monday, 3 January 2022 00:04 (two weeks ago) link

sadly since I used my gov't name, my entire embarrassing high school USEnet history is preserved in amber for all time, including this nugget:

whoever wrote the message above, I have this to say...I am a Christian, but
Christian rock doesn't appeal to me. Why? Because Christian rock just
doesn't cut it for me. It doesn't sound like rock. Dc Talk in my opinion
sold out when they quit rapping. My problem is at my church, everybody likes
the same bands. They just like them because they're Christian. As for
Christian metal, it DOES exist, and it's very good, however, none of the
bands listed by the guy who wrote this message are metal. Some Christian
metal bands are: PRecious Death, Mortification, Bride, Jesus Freaks,
Strongarm, Klank, and many more.....

Christian pop, however, sounds just rightfully fine. It's the rock music
they don't do right. And their categorizations sometimes are wrong. One
time I saw Jars of Clay listed as an alternative band. Got me mad. Jars of
Clay is acoustic rock, and they play the style of music which has been played
for decades. ---
|Fidonet: <REDACTED> 1:363/309
|Internet: <REDACTED>%3...@satl✧✧✧.o✧✧.o✧✧
| Standard disclaimer: The views of this user are strictly his own.
| From C.F.Satlink +1-407-240-7781 (ANSI or Vt-100 _required_).

lol amazing, when is that from?

chaos goblin line cook (sleeve), Monday, 3 January 2022 00:26 (two weeks ago) link

according to Google Groups...1997!

In a mall in 1995. I was 12. Some table set up as a demo for kids? It was public money? Didn't they have any internet at our libraries? How did i get away with using it for like 3 hours? It's hazy. We got a dialup connection i think fall 96.

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 3 January 2022 01:18 (two weeks ago) link

My first encounter with the internet was when my brother had an acorn archimedes in the early 90's connected up via 56k phoneline connection, presumably to lots of very interesting monochrome bulletin boards. He was working as an IT consultant for something like £2.80 ph for the guy who later was a jailed arsonist and former chairman of Doncaster Rovers and he apparently put out a contract out on my brother to have his legs broken, so I presume my brother probably stole off him!

In the later 90's (something like 97/98) I was playing Quake death match arena on my brother's pc and I thought gee this internet is pretty cool actually. I'm going get me some internet. Also he showed me how you could dl mp3s and that was the final epiphany for me.

calzino, Monday, 3 January 2022 02:20 (two weeks ago) link

1995, Grade 3 in an elementary school computer class. Our teacher, Mr Dickson, showed us a website about Jamaica. At this time I used to play this geography game where you’d just name a lot of non-obvious country/city names; following the Jamaica example I didn’t know what else to look for on the internet, so I looked up Dover. Starting out not with a bang but a whimper.

ed.b, Thursday, 6 January 2022 14:12 (one week ago) link

My tech-savvy French cousins had a minitel in the 80s that I used to play text adventure games on.

Then I used email and A-level learning programs at school in the mid 90s without realising they were the “internet”.

At home, when we first got the Internet in 1997, I can’t remember what the very first thing I looked at was, but I did immediately do a Yahoo search for Helena Christensen photos as soon as my parents went to bed

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 6 January 2022 14:18 (one week ago) link

There were a few years of a heavy phone bill until broadband came in the early 2000s.

I lived in a high-rise apartment when broadband first became available, and for several years hence I leached off various other peoples' broadband wireless access points or routers, easy to do with so many homes clustered together. Back then, routers shipped with encryption turned off by default to make setup as easy as possible for non-techies, and many people kept it that way. (of course, I couldn't safely access bank accounts or such with this setup).

Lee626, Thursday, 6 January 2022 14:45 (one week ago) link

Good thread. I definitely knew a couple of households throughout the '80s with phone-in-cradle modems (acoustic couplers?), and I know at least by the early '90s I had friends with access to the rudimentary web. The first time I had an email address for myself was I think when I got to college in 1993, but I don't remember it being a shock or novelty or anything so I think we must have had *something* at home before that.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 6 January 2022 14:53 (one week ago) link

Started age 13 with 1200-baud bulletin boards (local calls only!), '84. Within six months, there was some kind of a meet-up at a local Perkins (since everyone was in the same area code), so there was a early bridge between IRL and online, literally seeing other posters as humans.

... (Eazy), Thursday, 6 January 2022 15:07 (one week ago) link

many xps: oh, thank you, sleeve! I really hope I can make it to that Boatmen show. I was so excited about it and now it's looking like the worst possible time to fly + go to a show, but I'm still holding out hope that the peak will be over by then.

Lily Dale, Friday, 7 January 2022 04:05 (one week ago) link

same, although I'm not going sadly. sending u an ilxmail with more info

chaos goblin line cook (sleeve), Friday, 7 January 2022 04:19 (one week ago) link

Related question: when was your first FAP with people you met online?

1989. A Mac-specific pirate/hacker BBS in LA started throwing big Xmas parties and by 1990, pretty much every Mac pirate board in LA/OC followed. By 1992, I was meeting up before gigs with SoCal folks who I only knew from mailing lists.

Elvis Telecom, Friday, 7 January 2022 23:06 (one week ago) link

My first meet-up was in 1996, with people from the uk-motss mailing list (which I joined immediately on first getting internet access). The meets continued at regular intervals for the rest of the decade. I’m still FB friends with a few of the people I met.

mike t-diva, Saturday, 8 January 2022 08:25 (one week ago) link

1989. A Mac-specific pirate/hacker BBS in LA started throwing big Xmas parties and by 1990, pretty much every Mac pirate board in LA/OC followed. By 1992, I was meeting up before gigs with SoCal folks who I only knew from mailing lists.
― Elvis Telecom, Friday, January 7, 2022 6:06 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

Presumptuous question, feel free to ignore, but were you a hacker back then (given your username)? I was obsessed with reading about hackers in the late 80s early 90s, mostly reading stuff like The Cuckoo's Egg, The Hacker Crackdown, and other books on LoD, The Masters of Deception and other hacker groups of the era.

PM Dawn FM (PBKR), Saturday, 8 January 2022 13:03 (one week ago) link

The first meet up with people I’d met online - on a message board or social media, not a dating site, I see these as different things - didn’t happen until this century, maybe last decade? Am probably missing something but Ende Tymes 2014 is probably the answer - I met a lot of musicians, including people I’d interacted with and interviewed, and later learned that various other people were present too and we missed each other.

The first time I *spoke on the phone* to someone I met on the internet was in college, maybe ‘96 or ‘97, to someone who used to post on ILX but hasn’t for ages now.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 8 January 2022 18:16 (one week ago) link

college - 1993 - i had met and hooked up with a guy at a halloween party who was currently "on academic leave" and was living with his mom in DC, and we wrote each other letters. He suggested that if I emailed him rather than mailed letters we can have more extensive and frequent communication. Several of my housemates at the time were CS majors and/or had work/study jobs in the student computer center so one of them set me up with email. Same housemate introduced me and my roommate (his gf) to Mosaic when it came out, and my roommate got really into some game with jewels that were pretty colors because that was novel, as opposed to text and ASCII graphics

sarahell, Saturday, 8 January 2022 19:07 (one week ago) link

oh and the "elite" CS/computer center mates got to have their own email usernames, as opposed to the assigned student numbers that everyone else had. And as is common, some would go by those names in conversation, like "crism" ... though there was one guy who used his initials as his username "dwb" and he didn't really like being called "dee double u bee" and he liked it even less when someone clever (probably the dude I was dating tbh) realized that he could pronounce it "dweeb"

sarahell, Saturday, 8 January 2022 19:21 (one week ago) link

I still remember 1992/93 usernames that had your major, a number, and your initials.

"mac1pfn" indicated my initial major (mass communications). Apparently I was the first user with my real-life initials, pfn (note that these inform my ilx username to this day)

My girlfriend at the time was something like "frn2jeg," a French major who I suppose must have been the second French major with her initials to grace the portals of that particular university.

nonsensei (Ye Mad Puffin), Saturday, 8 January 2022 19:44 (one week ago) link

y'all had fancy usernames ... except for the CS people, we were all st (student) with a 6 digit number following.

sarahell, Saturday, 8 January 2022 20:41 (one week ago) link

Neanderthal was actually my BBS handle in 1995-ish, when I was 15.

well, the second one. I was Flipper at first but I got made fun of too much

short answer - First Job but I'm so unsure of when I first used the web.

it must have been around the time I was house sharing, long rj45 cables trailing down stairways, big phone bills, I guess probably around 1996.
Recall getting into reading about conspiracy theories about Montauk and other bullshit.

Way before all that I remember reading an article in the late 80's in a ZX Spectrum magazine about a MUD game called Shades. It sounded unbelievable with people all sharing an adventure game online and socialising.

Ste, Saturday, 8 January 2022 23:29 (one week ago) link

Sara, I think the jewel game you refer to was among the slate of freeware we all had access to upon getting to college. A lot of us got addicted to it.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 9 January 2022 00:07 (one week ago) link

It’s wild to think that if you wanted/needed [name of ubiquitous word processing software redacted] in that era, it was crazy easy to get it - you could download it from the general server or later get a friend to just give you a copy. Different times.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 9 January 2022 00:09 (one week ago) link

I don't remember what year it was but I remember it was Gopher via my parents' work accounts

The first time I met someone from online was in the spring of 1992, when I begged a ride out to Worcester for my roommate and me to see The Cure on Usenet and met a woman who not only gave us a ride but was also an alum and worked at/introduced me to the place that ended up being my first job out of school.

castanuts (DJP), Sunday, 9 January 2022 22:18 (one week ago) link

1994 -- got first email address via college, only used it to communicate with my friends bc i didn't know what else to do with it, had never heard of the internet
1996 -- went to Colombia for study abroad and heard that we would have email access but no one else I knew had email addresses and I didn't have a computer so I used payphones to communicate with my friends and family
1997 -- wrote my senior thesis with the help of newspaper websites I learned about while I was in Colombia (and wouldn't have had access to otherwise), graduated from college with honors for using the internet in my research (weird but true!)
1998 -- finally got my first computer and AOL dial-up account. The first band I discovered on the internet was Belle and Sebastian <3

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Sunday, 9 January 2022 22:46 (one week ago) link

In the late 90's I had friends with computers and knew about the internet but didn't really care about it until I bought my first Mac in 2001, it was an iBook G3.

JacobSanders, Sunday, 9 January 2022 23:50 (one week ago) link

Presumptuous question, feel free to ignore, but were you a hacker back then (given your username)? I was obsessed with reading about hackers in the late 80s early 90s, mostly reading stuff like The Cuckoo's Egg, The Hacker Crackdown, and other books on LoD, The Masters of Deception and other hacker groups of the era.

I guess so? As with being a writer I think someone else has to call you that first... Phil Lapsley's Exploding the Phone book details much of the 1970s era of phreaking/hacking that I grew up in (along with Steven Levy's book Hackers). I was really into amateur radio and building my own electronics then, I was too young to read the infamous 1971 "Secrets of the Little Blue Box" Esquire article when it was published, but it seemed like a lot of people knew about it. I obtained free subscriptions to both Byte and Creative Computing mag and by the time I entered high school in '79 I knew enough to build blue, red, and beige boxes - basically enough to find an exposed phone box on a vacant building and then use it to your own ends.

I was acquainted with the people and events in The Hacker Crackdown but I was mostly out of the scene by then. I hung around the LA 2600 crowd for a few more years and finally left when the Kevin Poulsen/Agent Steal stuff was going down and DEF CON became a thing.

Needless to say, WarGames means 10000x more to me than any of the Star Wars movies.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 11 January 2022 23:30 (one week ago) link

Thanks for sharing that history.

That early phase is something else - the ability to make free calls and such just by sending a certain tone down the line is so steampunk (for lack of better phrase). Also, things were so wide open that if you had the knowledge it was just one big playground. That sense of exploration for exploration's sake distinguishes it from later eras.

Bullet Boys 2022 Complete "Freakshow" album live! (PBKR), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 12:59 (one week ago) link

Or maybe I'm romanticizing it.

Bullet Boys 2022 Complete "Freakshow" album live! (PBKR), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 12:59 (one week ago) link

In elementary school in the late 80s, I was friends with a computer nerd (he was very excited about Lotus 1-2-3 and Printshop). One day we went across the street to his neighbor's house (a grown man). He wanted the man to show me some computer-related thing that I didn't understand. So the guy goes over to his computer, makes us look away while he enters his password, then eventually he is logged into a BBS with the image of the Pillsbury Doughboy as its frontpage. Then he immediately told us that it was time for us kids to scram. So I guess that was my first encounter with the online world, although it seemed about as exciting to me as Lotus 1-2-3.

By 1994-1996, in high school, I was getting in on the tail end of the BBS era, overlapping a little bit with my parents' AOL account. This is when I actually started using the internet.

But then I went through years of alternately using and not using it for a while until the mid-2000s, after which I haven't logged off too much.

peace, man, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 14:20 (one week ago) link

the image of the Pillsbury Doughboy

Meant to include that it was an ascii image of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

peace, man, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 14:22 (one week ago) link

(x- post)

Impressive to hold out until the mid-2000s. I think by around 2002 at least it was already getting inconvenient not to use the internet in day to day life?

Luna Schlosser, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 14:46 (one week ago) link

It's reasonable to characterize my life in the early 2000s as "inconvenient," often of my own making.

peace, man, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 15:06 (one week ago) link

Elvis, I'm envious. I used to drool reading over the old stories of Captain Crunch and that whole history from the black box gang. Such amazing stories and people involved.

Ste, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 15:15 (one week ago) link

oops blue box

Ste, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 15:16 (one week ago) link

and yeah, Wargames is one of my favourites.

Ste, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 15:17 (one week ago) link

And if anyone hasn't read that Esquire article "Secrets of the Little Blue Box", I suggest you do it now.

Ste, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 15:20 (one week ago) link

When I was 5, my stepfather was using a modem from his Commodore PET. A few years later, my father was admin'ing an entomology BBS called Bombus. By age 11 I was dialing into BBS's on my own, mostly to play TradeWars and download ASCII animated movies made in TheDraw. I remember in 1990 my brother was into hacked game BBS's and once left the computer on the phone overnight so he could download King's Quest 5 (15 megabytes of data). There was a lot of dialing in to try and find new hacked games... more than once I dialled "long distance" (our area code was small) to download something and got in trouble. I had my first e-mail account at age 12 through a local BBS called Wang's Studio, the address was 30 characters long. My first time using Netscape was age 14 on the school computers. By age 15 I was mostly using BBS's for message boards, I never got into Usenet or anything. I got a Rocketmail account that same year for which I am still registered and my Mail app is still sync'd to it

flamboyant goon tie included, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 15:35 (one week ago) link

I think by around 2002 at least it was already getting inconvenient not to use the internet in day to day life?

feel like this depends massively on what line of work you're in.

i was a liberal arts student in 2002 and even in that decadent and internetty lifestyle, there were tons of days i would have had no need to use the Internet, though i probably did every day because i wanted to chat with friends on AIM, or see if i had any emails, or read Pitchfork reviews and crappy webcomics first thing in the morning. in terms of being isolated or unable to get things accomplished, it was a wayyyyy bigger problem when the phone line went out (which happened whenever it rained, due to faulty wiring at the house my friends and i were renting). that meant not being in the know about parties and shows, not being able to call work if i was going to be late, etc. there was also a period in there where we went back to dialup AOL for a brief time, the worst of all worlds. i got a lot more done in those days, at least in terms of hobbies and creative projects.

I Am Fribbulus (Xax) (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 16:22 (one week ago) link

I did like that BBSes were a very local thing back in the day, but on the flip side, you had to watch out if you were a) using your government name or b) flaming someone cos you had a non-zero chance of running into somebody in real life.

they were written with a ouija board and a rhyming dictionary (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 18:27 (one week ago) link

like one of my friends in high school who I still keep in touch with, was posting on the same BBS as me when I was a Freshman (and he was in 8th grade), and he used his gov't name. He was asking people where he could get hemp paper.

two years later, I'm a junior in high school and the men's ensemble choir is getting ready to rehearse and the teacher calls dude's name and it's the dude from the BBS, and I reflexively look at him and go YOOOOOOOOOOO, were u the dude on Bobby's World BBS asking for hemp paper? and he turned beet red.

a few months later he wrote to Guitar World, talking shit to Billy Corgan, and they printed it, and I razzed him about that, and he said "I'M NOT GOING TO POST ANYWHERE WITH MY GODDAMN NAME ANYMORE"

they were written with a ouija board and a rhyming dictionary (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 18:30 (one week ago) link

lol u all r OLD!

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 18:31 (one week ago) link

I don't recall ever using it before law school in the late 90s.

jimbeaux, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 18:31 (one week ago) link

People who can't easily be identified from their gov't names should check their privilege.

Luna Schlosser, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 18:42 (one week ago) link

God, I guess 1988 when I started my comp sci major. I had an internet-valid email address (still hilariously tied to a specific machine, @blah.cs.uni.edu.au) and posted to Usenet. Before that (1982 on) I’d used a remote terminal from my rural town to access the state education dept’s PDP-11 via RSTS. And it was a PAPER BASED TERMINAL, no screen at all, just typing and printing. Now who’s old.

assert (matttkkkk), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 18:45 (one week ago) link

In 1971 my high school installed a terminal that connected to a timeshare mainframe at a local university. It did have a keyboard, but instead of a CRT screen interface it printed out all its prompts or responses on green bar tractor feed paper using a dot matrix printer.

It wasn't networked, so it doesn't qualify as "using the internet". A buddy of mine found it fascinating, but I was unimpressed, largely because there was no instructional material available, so you could barely coax it to do anything at all.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 19:01 (one week ago) link

Sounds like the setup I was using a decade later. There were tiresome manuals for the keen, and I remember typing pretty dull BASIC games into it. The best was some Star Trek thing.

assert (matttkkkk), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 19:16 (one week ago) link

my brother and I spent a lot of time writing stupid quizzes in BASIC, cos dad taught it to us.

they were written with a ouija board and a rhyming dictionary (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 19:19 (one week ago) link

20 GOTO 10

jimbeaux, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 19:20 (one week ago) link


they were written with a ouija board and a rhyming dictionary (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 19:21 (one week ago) link

it was more like

10 INPUT "Are you sliding into first?", A%
20 IF A% = "Yes" THEN 50
30 PRINT "No diarrhea"
40 END
50 INPUT "Did you feel something burst?", B%
60 IF B% = "Yes" THEN 90
70 PRINT "No diarrhea"
80 END
100 END

they were written with a ouija board and a rhyming dictionary (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 19:21 (one week ago) link

Way before all that I remember reading an article in the late 80's in a ZX Spectrum magazine about a MUD game called Shades. It sounded unbelievable with people all sharing an adventure game online and socialising.

I played Shades a few times! Someone set it up in the school computer room on the BBC Micros around 89/90. it wasn't connected to the internet though, just LAN. it was a pretty fun game though from what I remember

bovarism, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 19:41 (one week ago) link

xp Likewise at my school in 1971 or 1972, when I was 9 or 10. We collectively wrote a BASIC program in class, then the maths teacher went off somewhere, inputted it into the mainframe and brought back the printout.

We also had mainframe email at work in the very early 1990s… in fact it was me who installed it. I was a bit pissed off when they replaced it with proper email.

mike t-diva, Wednesday, 12 January 2022 20:01 (one week ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.