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Old 12-06-2018, 04:41 AM
Location: Williamsburg, VA
3,551 posts, read 1,656,614 times
Reputation: 10169


We had a computer at home throughout most of the 80s, but I don't think we had internet until 1990, when we signed up for CompuServ.

Some things I remember about the early days with CompuServ:

1) Lots of the links had fees attached. You had to be very careful to only use the FREE options. some little video of a dancing cat might cost you $5.

2) CompuServ was a fun luxury, but not cheap. You could get a break on the monthly fees if you signed up friends. So one of the first ways internet affected us was to find out which of our friends liked this idea, and which were offended.

3) I don't think there were more than a few thousand people on CompuServ when we began. I was in western NC at the time and can remember trying to find out who was "nearest" to me geographically. We ended up contacting some stranger in Greenville, SC to say hello (just because he was the closest person). We actually sent messages to this guy 10-12 times. Nowadays I'd be scared to receive a message from a complete stranger like that, but back then it was exciting. We actually made plans to meet (although we never ended up doing it).
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Old 12-06-2018, 05:04 AM
1,770 posts, read 2,443,971 times
Reputation: 5164
Loved it. I was parking director at New Mexico State University and on a main frame from the early day. The internet connected me with other professionals in the field. Then, when I retired, and became a stripper ( most of you folks know that story) the internet connected me with other people in that field: providers and customers. It was absolutely fascinating - that dark world of strip club reviews, and so forth. Now, years later, I love the internet for information that is readily available, and even more so, EBAY, where I love shopping. One of the best things about the internet is that I can meet and connect with people who are like me - where in real life, it is hopeless. But because I stay in a high state of paranoia, I do my best to run a MISinformation campaign on social media.
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Old 12-06-2018, 07:25 AM
2,103 posts, read 720,268 times
Reputation: 5393
I first coded Fortran when I was 19, in 1972. I was a sophomore in college. I was hooked. In my work as an entry-level actuary, coding skills were valuable- if you could wrest the data away from the IT types in charge of the mainframe, who just kept telling you that they couldn't do the slicing and dicing you needed, even though you KNEW the detail was in there, you could do magic. I remember taking giant reels of data on tape to an outside "timesharing service" so I could do the analyses we needed. Actuarial departments were the first to get "mini-computers" for the same reason.

The Internet- first used at a company I joined in 1985 and left in 1995, so maybe it was the middle of that period that we were able to use e-mail to contact people in our offices in London, Brussels and HK- a huge improvement over trying to reach them during office hours and paying international phone charges. I also created the first Web sites for my church and for the small consulting firm where I worked. The Ex, also tech-friendly, got a CompuServe account and a modem for our home computer. Getting everything talking to each other was very complicated back then. He also got one of the first ThinkPads. I can't imagine life without the Internet now- I LOVE having access to answers to 99% of my questions (whatever happened to...what's the origin of this word...what does this error code on my oven mean...). Also love being able to keep in touch with so many people.
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:44 AM
13,912 posts, read 7,416,674 times
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I worked briefly at BBN Labs in 1987 after my metro Boston tech startup shut the doors on a couple days notice. I know 1987 because I was there for the Black Monday stock market crash. BBN made the routers for the first internet called "interface message processors (IMP)". I had a Sun workstation in my office. All the MIT PhDs on my project spent their day doing email, participating in USENET message boards, and otherwise being unproductive while BBN Labs billed big bucks to some military contract for "research". I quit after 90 days.

I've earned my living from internet-related things since. My 1990-1997 company did really well selling technology to the dialup server companies. I've had internet email since 1987. I had the Mosaic web browser on my Unix workstation in maybe 1993 or 1994. I remember when AltaVista was the good search engine.

My first employer in 1981 had a global corporate data network so you could email and file transfer anywhere within the company. The next couple of companies had email on minicomputers but nothing ever left the building. The internet wasn't all that useful until the WWW happened and that didn't hit critical mass until 1995.

I can't imagine life without Google. I'd have to actually remember things. I'd have to go to a library to look something up.
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:28 AM
6,316 posts, read 3,579,899 times
Reputation: 22106
Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post
Oh, you should have been around for ARPAnet in the Eighties. Very high quality discussions.
Isn't that the truth? There's no comparison.

Now it's more like a classroom where each child stands up and says his "piece," sits down and the next stands up, says something totally unrelated, sits down, etc. Very little discussion or sense of connection at all.

In the Nineties a group on one web site I frequented became so familiar with each other that we went on a cruise together. Others visited cross-country in each others' home.

That group still exists and have become good friends.

Did the usership become that much more dangerous since then?
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:40 AM
3,915 posts, read 2,751,761 times
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I started learning programming in college in 1976, fortran, basic, cobol, probably some others. We used punch cards. In 1981 I worked at a government agency and I got the first PC because I was the only one who knew what to do with it. I was a training director and wrote programs to handle all the aspects of that and had my secretary learn how to do data entry. I also programmed some other PC's for friends who worked at different companies.

In 1983 my brother helped build (hard labor) a computer store that eventually became a large chain. He went from laborer to running the Apple department then on to having his own software company. My ex also started working there and specialized in accounting software and got hired out right away by a company that needed that set up.

We had computers at home since 1983. In 1990 my kids started at a magnet school that specialized in computers but no one really knew what to do with them and there wasn't much software for the kids yet.

I remember getting dial up internet from AOL back around 93-94. 5 hours a month. Found many old friends and organized our class reunion via group emails. Set up my first website in 1997.
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:43 AM
Location: Middle of the ocean
31,680 posts, read 19,984,454 times
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The internet gave me the education I didn't get the traditional way. Without the internet I would never have been as successful in business as I was.
My posts as a Mod will always be in red.
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Old 12-06-2018, 10:03 AM
Location: Coastal New Jersey
56,103 posts, read 54,597,263 times
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I can remember a local newspaper article about "Getting on the information highway" and thinking it sounded pretty stupid. I am not one to jump in and grab the latest technology, so it didn't seem as if it was anything that would affect me.

But, we used computers at work, and at one point in the mid-to-late 90s I had to take a class in something or other. It was probably when we switched from this internal "Office Automation (OA)" system to PCs with Microsoft. The computers in the training room at work had something called Netscape on them, and I clicked and started to look.

Shortly after, we had the Internet available on our computers, but we rarely used it. It was supposed to be for work purposes only, and the manager got a report every month showing how much time each employee had spent time on the Internet, so we knew not to go on unless we had a good excuse.

Then my sister bought a bunch of old XTs and upgraded them for members of the family who wanted a computer, and now I had one at home. Opened up a whole new world.

Within a few years at work, not only did we USE the Internet, my name was on the website as a contact.
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:00 PM
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
12,268 posts, read 12,511,970 times
Reputation: 19430
I was on the internet long before there was a World Wide Web. Gopher was the search engine of choice. Online forums would get responses from Nobel laureates. I was pen pals with Douglas Adams when he was researching Last Chance To See. Th OS was Unix and you could do anything that fit on a VT100 terminal. It was an exciting time for the mind. Spam was limited to the Green Card Lawyers, promising work visas to foreign Ph.D. candidates. Of course it was a scam, because prospective employers would be glad to arrange a visa for them.

Fall term was always a bit of a nuisance because of the 18 year olds who had never had internet access before, but by the time we were 6 weeks into the term they would realize either they quit spending their time annoying people or they would flunk out.

Then came AOHell. Subscribers were used to nicely moderated discussion "rooms." When introduced to the intellectual free-for-all of internet discussions they freaked out, either complaining loudly about offensive posts or making the offensive posts themselves. Sometimes both. Really intelligent people retreated to closed groups, usually conducted by group emails. The Marching Morons all used CB handles online instead of their real names.

Then came the World Wide Web, and literacy was no longer a requirement for internet use. Look at the pretty pictures. Isn't that kitty cute?

I still hang out places like City-Data fora because people here at least read and write. Thank you all for providing real content instead of garbage for my internet experience. I appreciate you more than you know.
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:08 PM
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
12,268 posts, read 12,511,970 times
Reputation: 19430
Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post
William F. Buckley Jr. was still using WordStar up until he died in 2008.

I don't have that kind of allegiance to any text editor, not even GNU Emacs, which I learned with no small amount of trouble. Still remember some of the commands.
George R. R. Martin still uses WordStar. OMG, dot commands for formatting. I wish I could forget.

For my money, WordPerfect 5 for DOS was the best word processor ever developed. I did some huge operation manuals with it, complete with TOC and index. I have to admit hot links are more convenient for the user. They don't even print paper manuals any more.
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