Thursday, December 9, 2010

The early days of the Internet

I sometimes listen to an NPR podcast called Science Friday.

Oh, great, did I just lose every reader with that first sentence?

Well, in case you're still with me, I've got to recommend that you take some time to listen to one of the show's recent stories, "The Future of the Internet." It's a rebroadcast of a segment of a 1993 Science Friday episode.

Think back to 1993. Did you even know what the Internet was? My dad is pretty tech-savvy, and I think we got Compuserve in 1994 or 1995. We got a certain number of hours of access per month (five, maybe?), and beyond that we had to pay per minute. There was no Google or Facebook or Twitter, and--oh, this one makes my heart ache--no Amazon! (And speaking of Amazon, remember when it was just an online bookstore?)

The comments on this show are just awesome. One guy named Dave calls in and suggests, "Let's say I find some song I really like. It'd be nice to go to, like, Sony, or RCA, or wherever these record companies are, and download a particular song and if I like it, you know, upload a credit card number." (Let's hope this guy invested in Apple early on, and profited off iTunes!)

Another lady calls in, worried about how we know what information to trust on the Internet. (Of course, this was years before teachers had to set rules about using Wikipedia as a source!)

And then there are the numerous references to "electronic mail." (When's the last time you even pondered what "email" stands for?)

So if you've got a chance, I really think you'll enjoy this "blast from the past" and, like me, you'll be amazed how much the world has changed in 17 years. Click here to listen to the whole story.


Mellodee said...

Outside of dynamic and amazing people, I wonder if there has EVER been anything else that changed the world so completely and so easily? None of us would have ever believed it back in 1993!!

Lola said...

I was a college Freshman in 1995 and had my first email account at the university. It was amazing and so new and cool - I was so naive, and even online predators didn't really know their full reach at that point (not until AOL really took shape) :)
I used to "chat" on a message board- and developed real online friendships (people I've met in RL and others I haven't but am still in touch with today). It opened up a whole Brave New World. Less than 20 years...yes, it is astounding.

SnoWhite said...

I love science Friday :)

Scriptor Senex said...

I wonder what we wil be reminiscing about in seventeen years time? If you know the answer, Beth, please let me know now so I can invest in it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout-out about Science Friday. If you go to our site,, you'll also see dozens of short, fun videos about science, nature, animals, that kids and families might enjoy, too.

Happy Holidays!

Ira Flatow
Science Friday