The internet used to be a wild and lawless place, where the only people running around on it were those who knew how it worked. Advertisers hadn’t caught on to this thing (except for that horrible bugger who taught the world how pop-ups worked) and most regular people were slightly… mystified by the whole thing. Well, what do you expect from a world that needed Rachel and Chandler from Friends to explain to them how Windows 95 worked?
When last did you need an introduction to the internet?
The internet is ubiquitous. Unless you’re part of an uncontacted tribe with a penchant for staying that way, you know what the internet is and how it works. But it wasn’t always like that. Some of the folks at Stuff… some of the older folks at Stuff remember a time when the internet was new and shiny and people needed to know how it worked. Not us, obviously. We’re internet hipsters, we knew about it before it was cool.
But for everyone else, they needed to use something… a little like this. Videos like Everything You Need To Know About… Introduction to the Internet, which was recently added to the Internet Archive, were once commonplace. Explaining how the world wide web worked to people who could barely operate a toaster was big business. Even worse, here in South Africa, similar videos were used — even though they were very America-centric — because that’s what was available. It wasn’t an easy time at all.
Nothing like today, where internet access is so widespread that entire industries and companies can come to a grinding halt if certain pipes of data are interrupted — even for a little while. But when the realities of modern data web access are getting you down, it might help to take a look at what was once considered the pinnacle of technology — computers running Windows 3.11 or Windows 95, RAM allocations of 8MB (your mind put a G in there — it’s not a G) and hard drive of up to 500MB (again, not a G), running on dial-up internet. All explained by people who knew what they were talking about, trying to teach people who’d never seen this sort of thing before.