Nuggets of Wisdom

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Anyone Remember This Sound?

Who here remembers having to wait and listen to this sound before you could log onto the internet?

My folks and I first received internet connection back in 1997. Back then, I thought the internet was the coolest thing ever. Now, it’s as commonplace as telephone and television. And looking back way back when, those days truly were the “dark ages.”

Back then, if you wanted to access the internet, you had to wait and listen to that infernal noise for a good 30 seconds—if you were lucky! Sometimes you had to wait a whole minute! Once you were on, only one person could stay logged onto it on one computer in the house at a time, and no one could use the phone during then. Yes, back then, you had to choose between using the internet or using the phone. You could not have both!

Every web page was mostly text and pictures. Music was restricted to MIDI files, and other sounds were restricted to second-long sound bites. Wanted to download a full song? You’d have to wait a good hour or so? Wanted to watch a video more than a minute long? Hope you had something else to do for the rest of the day, because you’d be waiting for it to load for a looooooooooong time.

Yahoo! was the only search engine, and that was about it for notable websites. No Google. No Amazon. No Wikipedia. No EBay. No YouTube. No Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, or even MySpace. (Do people even use that anymore?) You wanted to reach out and touch someone? You’d have to stick to AOL or Yahoo! Chat. And that was about it. (And God help you that the person you're chatting with was the actual age that they claimed to be, because this was a time before Chris Hansen was making a living trying to catch a predator.)

Looking back at the internet now, I have to scratch my head and wonder what drove me to waste so many hours on it. I’m sure there are children today who are so used to watching YouTube videos while tweeting and updating their statuses on their iPads (or even their phones) that they would consider the internet of the past as alien to them as hand-crank nickelodeons are to the rest of us.

In fact, if you really want to feel your age, here are some teenagers reacting to the internet as we once knew it: