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Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013, 04:34 pm
We've come a long way together

While I was out in the city attending to errands, I had cause to muse on just how far we have progressed with the internet. I first discovered the internet when I was an IT uni student in the early 1990s, probably a little over 20 years ago now. (I expect they only let IT students have access to the internet back then.) I would access it either on dumb terms from uni or via a 14.4K modem from home. (Before then, I would mess around on BBSs on even slower analogue modems.) It was through the internet that I would discover the furry fandom (much like furries do now). But back then I would mostly use it to lurk on newsgroups (my younger readers would not be familiar with those--similar to web forums), to download naughty pictures of astonishingly low resolution (by modern standards) and to read fan fiction (Elf Sternberg's Journal Entries were my favourite). It was some years later before it would occur to me I could make my own websites and try my hand at playing MP3s and other music files and had a computer up to the job.

Now, while I was in the city, I was able to check my route on Google Maps and keep up with responses to the silly tweet I made earlier that day while planning a rendezvous with a friend. If I'd been so inclined, I would have thought nothing of plugging in some headphones and listening to some music. All of this would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. The internet was something you used (slowly!) on your desktop. Mobile phones were bricks and the cause of some rubber necking when I saw my first one in the wild. Nowadays, we bitch when our mobile connectivity drops out for a few minutes.

I'm not sure what we're going to take for granted 20 years from now, but I look forward to finding out.

Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013 10:02 am (UTC)

It'll be interesting to find out... let's hope it'll also be good to find out.

Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013 11:41 am (UTC)

I started getting active in furry as the newsgroups were breathing their last gasps.

I started young. Might be why I'm so crazy these days...

Then there was the time one smeghead mod chased me off TrekWars: TFC because I was "a mindless Trektard". That was about 7 years ago.

Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013 12:18 pm (UTC)

And then you had to uudecode the naughty pictures before you could see what you had downloaded!!

Yes, we are living in the future.

Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)

I have fond memories of stitching together text files and uudecoding them. And rot13ing. I used to write simple programs to automate these processes.

Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013 09:09 pm (UTC)

Oh yeah!  When we were kids we had to earn our naughty pictures!!

Thu, Apr. 4th, 2013 02:21 am (UTC)

"Uudecode?! Back in my day, all I had was a blinking light for 1s and 0s. I had to remember the bits and stitch it together in my own head. And we were darn grateful for it too!"

Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)

I remember thinking how awesome it would be to have a 56kbit leased line to the house.. zomg. fast! compared to 2400bps that is. hehe. Or the mythical T1, 1.544Mbit!

Now, wireless mobile internets is faster than a T1.. At least in terms of data rate. Latency is still lacking a bit.

Tue, Apr. 2nd, 2013 06:58 pm (UTC)

I haven't noticed much change in speed since the mid-90's, but that's because of unusual circumstances.
Back then, the main server that I used to talk to the outside world with and download things onto at university was on a T3 line. Granted, that T3 was shared with most of the rest of the university, but I mainly used it in the dead of night when hardly anyone else did. Also, the server on which I had my account was the most modern of the ones offering student accounts at the time, as it was really able to use that T3. I didn't bother with doing very much on the Internet from home in those days, and why would I with a T3 at school.
The share that I had of that T3 is certainly less than what I typically get at home now with FTTN DSL even at times of high demand, but certainly not insignificant. And actually, the upload speed was better.

Meanwhile, I believe that Australia was Internet-connected to the outside world on a single T1 line in those days, so you'd definitely have it hugely better now.

Wed, Apr. 3rd, 2013 07:38 am (UTC)

I remember logging into Compuserve in the early 90'd on a 9.6k modem, I had an ozemail account later, but the nearest PoP was in Brisbane, so long distance charges where a killer.

Once Win95 came out with MSN/OnAustralia I could dial into their limited service, but e-mail was great and I played a lot of PBeM D&D games in the late 90's.

I look at my bookcases still stuffed with novels, and then pick up my ipad with enough ebooks on there to keep me going for years. Sadly enough I have even purchased digital copies of my favorites for the sheer convenience.

Wed, Apr. 3rd, 2013 11:55 pm (UTC)

My first access to the internet was Compuserve, and then on to AOL. In-between I received a disk for unlimited hours via GNN, and that was when the dam broke: I found the IRC and some fun little ζ chat rooms. This was all on my 9600 modem on the 386 with win3.1, two meg of ram, and an 80mb hard drive. I used Internet Navigator with images disabled in order to speed up my net searches.

Those were the days, my friend...

Now I have the FiOS Quantum 50/25 package, a quad-core processor, win7, 14Gb of ram, and a terrabyte drive. Trouble is, the necessity drives improvements...

Edited at 2013-04-03 11:56 pm (UTC)

Thu, Apr. 4th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC)

On that note, you might enjoy this clip from Micro Live, broadcast in January 1985, wherein they look at the state of the art in telephones. It begins with a look at "plain old telephones" in a Manhattan phone store, before segueing into radio phones using cellular radio technology, soon to cover thirty major US cities, with plans for coast-to-coast coverage by the end of the decade. And there's even a live demonstration of Leslie Judd placing a transatlantic call to their New York correspondent, on a fully portable cellular telephone! (Says she, hefting something that could double as an arcane book of magic from Hogwarts)

14.4? Luxury! I was uploading my final year project report using a 2400 baud modem! At that speed, it was actually worthwhile me editing each page's PostScript file to remove a bunch of superfluous stuff, taking the filesize down from something like 100K to 30K, thereby taking only about 2.5 minutes per page. With that being about the day before it was due, and something like 60 pages to be printed, that was valuable time saved. ^_^;

I miss the heyday of Usenet. Fully distributed, so it was all about the protocol. It didn't matter what client you used, or who provided your feed - it'd all work. Would we even have the web, if it were invented now? The media darlings now are specific sites, like Twitter, who maintain a tight grip on specifically how you can access their service - and it's very much their service, no partners permitted, with third-party clients now only grudgingly tolerated. Dropbox services abound, but never offering any standard protocol - always their own proprietary protocol, no inter-operation. Yet, people buy into it more than willingly - witness the uproar over that Google RSS service closure recently, with only a small minority apparently realising they can use any RSS reader, local or online.

But enough of that. ^_^ Indeed, the tech's advanced quite amazingly. I can be out photographing, and be able to check the next bus times back into town, or current satellite conditions locally or globally, or simply email, on a slender slab with a full color, high res display, with a battery lifetime of several hours. (Also a great device for bathtime!) It really is the Hitch Hiker's Guide, made real. Or PADD, if you prefer. =:)

Thu, Apr. 4th, 2013 06:44 pm (UTC)

Would we even have the web, if it were invented now?

Interesting question!
These days, it seems it is all about how much money can be made in the toll booths, and not about where the road may lead.

No doubt some might be thinking that actually it has always been that way, that the profit motive has always been to the fore. But that applies only to corporations. It wasn't corporations that developed the Internet, the space program (of any country), or the Interstate system (and analogous roadways in countries around the world). And the abdication of responsibility for these systems by the governments that built things like this over to private enterprise will no doubt lead the world onwards and forward... to very uninteresting and uninspiring places.

Sat, Apr. 6th, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)

I recall being questioned back in the early nineties with something about "would you tolerate ads if it would reduce your costs to go online?" It seemed reasonable when you got 5 hours online for your $20 with additional hours calculated at $2 each. Who but the corporations envisioned all the pop-ups, spam mails, and delayed-for-advertising videos?

Fri, Apr. 5th, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC)

Hahah, I still how I used to say that I don't ever want or need a cell phone :D