Thursday, May 16, 2013

When Did You First Hear of the Internet?

By Zak Muscovitch.

For me, it was probably the year 1994. While in law school, I was working as a waiter at the now defunct Movenpick restaurant in Toronto's fashionable Yorkville neighbourhood. A German pastry chef named, Peter, asked me, "Zak, what do you think of the Internet". I responded, "What's the Internet?" I was immediately curious and got online over the next couple days. From that point on, I was hooked.

Not long afterwards in 1994, I was sitting at Jet Fuel, a hip urban coffee shop which was popular with bike couriers. It offered a massive coffee drink called a "latte" for $1.00. This drink was to become very popular in the future. A fellow was sitting around near me and looked like a bike courier. I heard him mention something about the Internet and we got to talking. He introduced himself as a "Technology Evangelist" and produced a business card. That was the first time that I had ever heard of this term, and found it and its implications, just fascinating.

By this time in 1994, I was using Tucows like crazy. I am not of course talking about Tucows, the domain name registrar, but Tucows, the ORIGINAL app store, long before it became known as a domain name registrar, which offered a  website which had all kinds of cool new software for free download, like Powwow, an innovative chat program, created by a guy named John McAffee.

By 1995, I was playing a game called Command and Conquer  with friends that I had to call up on the phone to schedule a gaming appointment with. We used a cool  app called, Kali,  to connect our computers over the phone lines. I remember sending $20 in cash by mail to Jay Cotton, the developer, to get the software license to use it.

The coolest thing ever though, was using the Internet to call and leave a voice message for a guy in New York City on his answering machine. He had somehow set it up so that people could do that via his web site.  I must have done it 15 times because it was so cool.

Also on June 22, 1995, I was delighted to see a feature article on the "World Wide Web" in the Toronto Star newspaper.

This article said that "the Internet is hottest new communications medium on the planet", with an estimated 30 to 50 million people already "wired".

In late 1996, I wrote a ground-breaking article called, "Taxation of Internet Commerce". It was one of the first articles ever published on the topic, and it got me my first "A" in law school. It also became a very widely cited paper on the topic. At the time, I do not recall there being any "hits" when searching for this title using the preferred search engine at the time, WebCrawler.

I think that It was probably not until 2002 that I registered my first domain name. Did they still cost $75 then? This seems rather late to me so I have my doubts that it may have been earlier. I think my first domain name was I felt that with the pace of technology, "robot hunting" and "robot fishing" would certainly be just around the corner. I subsequently let the name drop of course.

Since then, a whole lot of the mystique and mystery of the Internet has been long gone. But once in a while I hear about new Internet related technology that is exciting and it reminds me of the old glory days when the Internet was young.

When did you first hear of the Internet?


Aron said...

I heard about the same time you did.
I remember the "neardy group" was always in the library on the Internet - in highschool and JR high.
I had no idea what they were up to.
I wish I'd have joined them (back in jr. high)... I'd have had a jump start on my efforts.

Turns out the people I thought were nerds were ahead of the curve and I should have jumped in with them.


gary said...

I think about the same time. My friend, who is now a computer engineer, had dial up access and I would go over there when everyone was asleep so that I didn't tie up the phone line. It was amazing - like having a library in your home!

Anonymous said...

Here is when Katie Couric first heard of the internet. Hilarious and classic video:

Maksim said...

Probably it was 1992-1993, when I first heard from my friend, that he sent some kind of message (email) through the internet. Year later parents made me a gift, first personal computer "Robotron" also I got modem Zyxel and dial-up connection, the speed was around 300 - 2400 bits per second. :-)

Francois said...

To be true, I do not remember the exact date.
The only I remember is I was one of the first Frenchy developpers to master the Microsoft windows API.
As I was working for a health software company I did not really made money of these skills except my salary and sporadic bonus... So when internet started I said each 10 years there is a dev revolution and now it's internet, I cannot lose it again. I am going to learn how to develop web sites and this time really valorize my skills... So before and after working hours I spend my time learning and learning... But there is something very special I remember, it's a morning in the office before anyone else was still present when I succeed for the first time to generate a real time web page showing data from an SQL database, I shouted: Yeahhhhhhhhhh! with a tremendous smile.

Zak Muscovitch said...

Incredible comments, guys.

@Anonymous, what a video!

@Francois, I can picture the moment you described! :)

Silent Sentinel said...

I can't remember exactly when I first heard about the Net; probably when I was in the tenth or 11th grade in the mid-90s.

My first time using it was when I took an MS Office 95 class at my community college. I found out that they had a computer lab upstairs and those computers were on the Net.

Needless to say, the class was forgotten as I spent hour after hour each evening looking up different things that came to mind on the computers. I think I was using Gopher rather than the Web, but still... what an awesome concept, to be able to look up anything I wanted and find articles, pictures.

I finished the class with a D-. LOL