Being on the Internet

My experience being on the Internet has been constrained by my anxiety about it well before it became such an obviously anxiety-inducing place. But there were some fun early years, so let me start there.

Being on the Internet in the mid-to-late 90s

If you missed this era, I feel bad for you. This was the most fun the Internet has ever been.

By the mid-90s, my family and all of my friends’ families had a subscription to AOL (or CompuServe), and we had pretty good web browsers to boot. AOL and CompuServe, if you weren’t there, were services we’d log in to (after a lot of beeping from our modems) to hang out in chatrooms and maybe send messages to each other if we were online at the same time.

The singular location of our computers was a big part of our experience, at least in memory where place is a big part of what we resurrect. There was one family computer in a house, usually in a den or other common space. Ours was in a partially-finished basement, where it was probably decided by my mother, who wouldn’t have wanted such a big ugly thing anywhere else in the house. I remember the old kitchen table it sat on, which was big for a desk, but still not nearly enough space to store all of our software in the late 80s and early 90s (when it was largely external to the machine).

By the time the Internet entered our household, we’d already been spending a few years in these computer caves running offline programs from floppy disks and CDs to play games that we elementary school kids loved. Math Blaster!, the Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, the 7th Quest—you’ve probably heard how precious these were to our early millennial generation. I loved more than just the games; I loved anything that could store and compute information. I remember my magical electronic talking dictionary I got one Christmas, and of course my favorite class c. 4th grade was a weekly computer lab when we got to create graphics with LogoWriter.

When we were in middle school (‘96-‘98) I remember going over friends’ houses and going online together, sitting in two chairs in front of a family computer to goof around in chatrooms. At Moof’s (really my only CompuServe friend), we’d make up a funny handle (CompuServe let you change your display name every log-in, which …

More to come here:

  • TM at her house (where she somehow had a computer in her own room)
  • geocities
  • Phil and chain emails
  • under eclipse
  • AIM

Test update here.

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