Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Back in the olden days of 1995

I just had to share this video.  It's all about using the internet in 1995, with a focus on CompuServe.  It's a real blast of nostalgia, and made me laugh several times because I remember it all.

I first started using computer networks, of a sort, in late 1993, dialing up "phone BBSes" (bulletin boards).  By 1994 I was trying out various online services, and CompuServe was the first one I tried, but I canceled it as soon as my free trial period ran out.  In 1994, CompuServe did not yet provide internet access--it was strictly an in-house online service.  The first actual internet access I had was a company called NovaLink, and I got 5 hours of access for $10 a month.  By the way, at that time I was using a 2400 baud modem.  So I wasn't able to do a whole lot, but I did go through all the stuff of installing Win32S so I could use NCSA Mosaic.  At that time, Mosaic was the only web browser, and was the precursor to Netscape.  Later on, I used Netscape.  I had to buy it.  It came on 2 or 3 1.5" floppies.  The only thing I specifically remember about NovaLink is that one day I went to a web page where some guy had posted gifs of all the Rush album covers (at that time).  It took a while to load, even though they were only small thumbnails.  Oh yeah, back then Mosaic could display in-line gifs, but not in-line jpgs, so if someone wanted to show a jpg, they just had to link to it, and when you clicked on the link it would open an associated jpg viewer on your computer to view it.  I used a program for jpg viewing that was called LView.

In 1995 I joined Netcom, which was unlimited access for $20 per month.  By that time I had upgraded to a 14400 modem, and pretty soon after joining Netcom I upgraded again to 28800.  The Netcom service came with its own software called Netcruiser, which incorporated all the stuff you'd need into one program (web browser, email, ftp, gopher, archie, usenet, etc.).  Netcruiser also functioned as a Winsock so you could minimize it and run some other browser if you wanted, like Netscape.

I used an html editor called HotDog.  I had to quit using it when I switched my screen resolution up to 800x600, because it wouldn't run under anything but 640x480.  At that time I started using some freeware editor that I don't remember the name of anymore.  Of course, back then all you had to know was basic html to create a website.  When things got so complicated that you also had to learn CSS and all sorts of other stuff, I gave up on creating my own sites and just went for a while with some very simple sites on Tripod until Blogger came along.

I kind of miss the old days when every ISP also provided Usenet access.  I was a big Usenet user back then.  After I quit Netcom and started using other ISPs that didn't provide you with software (mainly just because I was trying to find something cheaper and ever cheaper)*, I used Agent for email and usenet.  I loved Agent.  It was one of my favorite programs ever.

Of course, I also used AOL on at least three different occasions.  This video is from before the big AOL explosion.  I also had Juno email for a while.  Anyone remember Juno?

The thing about screen resolution was kind of funny to me, too.  I remember going to the local Whataburger for the morning gathering of ham radio operators shooting the bull and drinking coffee**, and I announced, "Well, I changed my screen resolution up to 800x600."  Back then this was a Big Thing.  "So, how do you like it?" Everyone asked.  Crazy.

*I actually used some free internet services for about a year.  One was from KMart, and I don't remember the other one.  When you first started the software, it would feed you a brief ad from the store, then dial you in.

**Back then Whataburger had this special deal where if you bought one of their plastic coffee mugs, you could get it refilled for a nickel.  After a year or so they changed it to refills for a quarter.  I wish I still had that mug, just because it was a good mug and it would be another bit of pleasant nostalgia to drink from it.  I don't know what happened to it.

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