What is “Internet” anyway?

This video popped up on YouTube last month, but has been making the blog rounds in the past few days. It’s a clip from a 1994 episode of The Today Show, featuring Brian Gumbel trying his best to wrap his head around this “Internet” thing (and that weird little @ symbol).

“What, do you write to it? Like mail?”

So, fess up. For those of you who are old enough to not have grown up with it, where did you first hear about the Internet? Did the concept make any sense? As for me, I saw an ad for Prodigy in the back of a Babysitter’s Club book.

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18 Responses to What is “Internet” anyway?

  1. I was pretty young, so internet at home something natural. Like a new toy.

    I used to connect to internet by the phone line, and that was horribly slow, and I let the rest of the house without phone xdd

    My first email was an @yupi.com That doesn´t exist anymore, Yupi was ate by Mycrosoft like 10 years ago.

  2. I first got access to the internet from home in high school when a friend gave me his old computer (540 mb harddrive! omg!). I don't remember it being particularly hard to wrap my brain around, like Felipe said it was pretty much a new toy. I remember lugging this huge old desktop and monitor into my kitchen to plug into the phone line so I could get on :-P

    • Oh yeah, and I do remember when I was like, 9 or 10 maybe, visiting my dad and he was getting onto newsgroups. So I guess maybe that was my first introduction to the idea. But it wasn't until I got a compy for myself that I actually got to play around and see what the internet was all about.

  3. My first computer experience was at age 14 with a TRS-80 Model III, just to give you an idea. I can remember when some companies began airing TV commercials with web addresses on them in the early 90s. It's amazing how little was known about the internet back then, by most people. It has become such an integral part of people's lives.

    What really gets me is that all 3 reporters (Couric, Gumbel, and I don't know who) were so unsure what "@" actually meant. It wasn't a new concept and was on my mom's typewriter, which was already a dinosaur when I was using it in the 70's. I guess it was a good thing they were pretty, because they weren't getting anywhere on brains.

    The guy explaining it to them in the background said it was a nationwide network connecting several universities. Now, any one of them could jump on Wikipedia and have the answers in the "10 seconds" they were joking about.

  4. My first experience with the internet was on a Commodore 128 uisng a phone line and we logged on to 'Q-Link' which was basically a bunch of chat rooms. If I remember correctly Q-Link ended up becomnig AOL

  5. Though the bit about the Babysitter's Club book is true, I thought I'd also add that when I was in junior high one of my friends set up a BBS. We would dial in after school and play Legends of the Red Dragon. So until my family got AOL in 1995/96-ish I pretty much just thought of the Internet as a way to play a computer game with other people.

  6. my mom got an internet connection so that she could work from home in 1995. I was 11. I was one of the first in my class at school to get a dialup connection. People used to come to our house to surf :D

  7. Ah, the good ole days of Gopher, Newsgroups, Prodigy, and direct dialing networks. We had Internet/WWW at my house when I was 13(1992), but it was text only. I never saw a graphic on the Interwebs until my freshman year at the University of Kansas in 1997. I tell that to my nephews now and they look at me like I have dragons coming out of my ears.

  8. well i was real young in the 90's so i don't know. we did have a computer but it wasn't online. middle school was the first time i actually knew it was "internet" and used it and went to websites. in elementary i don't think we had it. maybe teachers could get to it. maybe i vaguely remember netscape. i played online games with a friend at the library maybe when i was 7. wow everyone got the internet so early i didn't log on in my very own house until like 2006. my email was @sbcglobal.net it was with the phone company. then later we went to time warner cable.

    • *correction middle school was the first time i knew school computers had internet because they taught us to do research. before i just did what they said nervously. the computer lab lady was mean.

  9. Miles, your graphics are spectacular! ;) I truly am impressed, though. I don't recall seeing a graphic interface for chat and playing like this until years later.

  10. I was born on the same day as the www – I've literally grown up with it. My dad has always been an early adoptor of technology, I can't remember a time without it really.

  11. Aw, I missed it! The video's been removed and I couldn't find it anywhere else (though I only spent thirty seconds, so…).

    Anyways, we had internet in 1993. I was seven. We had just upgraded our computer from a keyboard plugged into a floppy drive plugged into a television to a desktop system. I wasn't allowed online, but I discovered chatrooms, anyway. I'd probably still be grounded if my parents ever found out.

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