My introduction to the world wide web

Tonight I was reflecting on my career in the Internet Service provider Industry. I have been doing “ISP stuff” since 1992. Back in those days we only had BBSes. For the younger generation, these were Bulletin Board Systems.  Think of Facebook without the pictures, the like buttons, the algorithms, and all the stuff we take for granted.  These were places you could post messages, download files, and read other messages people have posted. Much like the bulletin board at the local grocery store.

Over the years Internet usage has changed. When I first started with BBSes and my commodore 64’s 300 baud modem, many of the BBSes were long distance.  This meant you quickly learned how to navigate the menus and get the information you need. From these BBS days, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) was born. With the invention of HTTP, we now had a standard way of viewing content on this new worldwide web.

I remember visiting a computer lab at Purdue University shortly after I received my driver’s license in 1993.I looked old enough to be attending Purdue so I would wander around campus looking for interesting places to visit. After a few times, I happened across a computer ab in the basement of one of the big buildings on campus.  It was a dimly lit place with both PC and Macintosh computers. At that time the Macintosh computers were not as heavily used for anything other than word processing.  This meant there were empty computers.  I sat down and on the desktop was an icon for Mosaic. I clicked on this and life changed. This was way before the concept of logins and passwords.

For the next several months I would go to Purdue at least one to two times a week and spend several hours reading and printing things off the web, Usenet, and other resources. I managed

1990s Usenet

to gain a shell account on expert.cc.purdue.edu and was soon learning about mail, ytalk, and Unix shell. I would print off reams of paper and read them at home and school.  Anything I could find.  The Usenet groups were full of F.A.Q.s about anything from guns to cars to TV shows.  One of the ones I remember printing off was a F.A.Q. about Star Trek,  It talked about everything from the Warp drives, to how phasers worked, etc.  Of course, this was all about a TV show but was fascinating.  I had an entire topic on a subject at the touch of a button.  The folks maintaining these newsgroups were the first real content creators.

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