These days everyone is calling themselves a geek. Somewhere along the way, it became a fashionable term. With the rise of the mobile web and modern day social networking, everyone, it seems, is into technology. Welcome newcomers. It was not always so. Geeks have been around looooong before it was fashionable. In fact, I was a geek before the average man even knew what the internet was. The world wide web was only used by institutions. There was no cable versus DSL. AOL didn’t exist. A 3200 baud modem was a thing of beauty.
For some reason, last night I was reminiscing back to the way things used to be, and I am amazed at the change that has happened just within my lifetime. My dad got our first family computer, Apple’s Macintosh SE, in the late-80s. That lasted a few years, then with the rise of Windows 3.1, we got our first PC which happened to come with a Prodigy install disk. I don’t know what possessed my father. He isn’t really a technology person, but, for some reason, he decided to sign up. Game changing moment.
These are a few of my memories of the early internet, logged for posterity since I know they will fade with time (at least until Google implants microchips in our brains to search our every thought).
- Manually coding the HTML for my first Geocities website. Complete with webrings, counters, frames, and animated gifs.
- Running a giant phone line from the dining room computer into the kitchen, unplugging our phone, and blocking all incoming or outgoing calls…daily.
- ICQ - This was the pre-AIM instant messaging service. No handles, just numbers for user names. Since they were issued sequentially, the lower the number, the cooler you were.
- Waiting hours for a 2MB Quicktime file to download, only to have someone pull the modem and having to start all over.
- Playing a game (Command and Conquer) online for the first time…with another person…in another country…and promptly getting annihilated. Actually, not much has changed.
These are just a few and there are many more. Fortunately, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist to log my every moment of teenage angst. Most of my online interactions have vanished into the ether, and probably for the best.