Before The Dawn of Time

In the beginning, the Internet was the realm of select researchers. Computers were fragile things with deplorable uptime and took up lots of space (sometimes three times as much space as today's PC or eight thousand times that of a Mac; fuck I routinely get close to accidentally inhaling the latest iPods). Visual media on these computers was limited mainly to grainy monochrome CRTs and what most saw from them were print outs. Computer operators in the private sector worked with strange languages that no one uses today like COBOL and RPG. All computers did well was tally up numbers and generate reports. Those that worked with computers were high-paid wizards but they had to play solitaire with real cards. Truly these were dark times.

The Dark Ages (Late 1980s)

For those of us in the real world, your first experience with a computer was usually a toy (Apple II, Commodore, etc.). Real computers meant to do real business things were big beige boxes with monochrome monitors. In those dark times, so much as a hard drive was rare. For the first time however, those with an obsessive need to type words words words words words words words …wait? Oh yeah, had an outlet and spell check! Every computer on the market had 512 or 640k of RAM and cost thousands of dollars. It usually had a word processor, maybe an impossible-to-use spreadsheet, a “day planner” program that was also impossible to use, and your dad would get really mad at you if you had food or beverage within 30 feet of it.

Somewhere in here, moot was born or spawned or whatever.

The Renaissance (1990s)

The 386 changed everything. For the first time, there were color graphics, games, and realistically there was a chance to reach out and see other people. In many cities there were things called BBSes. These were just another 386 with a couple modems inside. In my town, there were a couple of these things, some with one line, some with two, and one with TEN. Each and every one had basic features: message boards, maybe a couple games, a file-sharing section, and boss ANSI graphics throughout. Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD) was awesome, the precursor to all those games they have today where you run around trying to find your corpse usually with the added benefit of a time limit per day. There was in theory a means of transferring mail between BBSes through something called FidoNET but where we were out on the edge of the world, it was completely unreliable.

AOL or Compuserve was usually the first thing the kid in the suburbs had remotely resembling the modern Internet. It had actual e-mail, chat, and content. Like everything says “See us on Facebook”, things used to have AOL keywords (disregard this after 2012 2013 2014 2015 FUCK 2082 because no one will remember facebook after that). Access was all dial-up and metered by the hour. Most in my generation got in serious trouble with our parents for running up the bill…

Eventually AOL offered access to the Internet and it was still metered by the hour. This was the first taste any of us got of the real thing. Web sites were few and far between. There was no wikipedia, no 4chan, nothing. There was porn, though. If it weren't for porn, chances are the whole Internet thing wouldn't have ever taken off.

Eventually (in my city anyway), some of the BBSs realized they could get a line to the Internet and out-compete AOL by offering unlimited access. It was dial-up, of course. A few ISPs sprouted up and AOL was dumped in favor of much cheaper pure dial-up. Every account came with an e-mail address, perhaps 5MB of hosting (no cgi-bin, no mysql, just space), and nothing else. Everyone used Netscape and Trumpet Winsock to connect. Windows 3.11 didn't have a built-in dial-up program in it. It was already mostly about porn.

Just so my age can show through, the fist time I ever saw anything approaching broadband Internet was at some rich kid's house. They had an ISDN line. Compared to your average high-speed connection now, it was pathetically slow but it was still fucking awesome. When I started high-school there was one computer in the library that had Internet and it was through dial-up. When I left high-school, every classroom had a real broadband connection.

The Pre-Modern Era (1997-2003)

For a lot of people, their first personal experience with broadband took place at college. It was in the library if you didn't live on campus and included with dorm rooms if you did. There weren't any filters or anything. It was an endless buffet of digital pleasures. Hosting was available to the masses and shockingly easy. Even at home there were (easy/affordable) options for high-speed Internet. Storage and speed were cheap and easy too. I only bring this up because this combination of factors led to the rise of 4chan as you little jerks know it today.

History as we know it of course, started with 4chan (and it's being deleted one pathetic post on page 15 at a time)

extremely_early_history.txt · Last modified: 2016/06/16 19:17 by admin0037
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