It was 51 years ago today that the world’s first internet transmission occurred. If you’d like to read a history of the internet, there’s a good one here.
I was only 12 at that time, but I had my first internet experience in the early 80’s. I was doing home health care as a live-in aide and was assigned to a gentleman who was “online”. It was a very rudimentary setup compared to now, but he taught me how to connect by setting the handset of the phone into the cradle and dialing up a server from which we could get all sorts of files. Very slowly of course, the process was quite laborious and even frustrating, but it was exciting nonetheless!
In my next job (1984) the owners decided to computerize their business and bought a TRS-80. And I was the only one with computer experience, as I recall…it’s been a while. And then every job I’ve had since, except one, have involved being online.
Personally I didn’t get my own computer to go online until 1989. Though I’d married and he had a Commodore 64, it only had games on it and didn’t seem like a real computer to me. But I was now working for an engineering firm and they’d let me take home their portable Compaq computer – like this one – for a weekend. I showed my then-husband and it wasn’t long – maybe a week? – until we were in a computer store buying one. I don’t recall the make or model but I do remember the salesman telling us it had 20MB of space and that’s all we’d ever need!
We were living in Detroit at that time, and I was on CompuServe shortly after that so I could talk to my cousin in Chicago. Within 2 years, however, we moved to the country where our nearest dialup number was a long distance call – and it was in the same town as our own address! It was at this point that I arranged for a service – the name of it escapes me – involving some sort of bundling of data through the lines, thereby reducing the cost of my data calls to something like $0.002 per minute. From that point on I was CompuServing and BBSing (on local BBSes) every chance I got!
Soon after that I discovered the IRC…then came along this thing called the World Wide Web that people were talking about and of course I had to be part of that too… Back at that time only 5% of internet users were women but once the web became popular things evened out quite a bit between the sexes. I started an online service, the first one I personally knew of, where I gathered information and did research for people, edited and printed their papers (we’re talking mostly college students), did resumes in the European “curriculum vitae” style as a British friend had taught me, and those were a BIG hit, as they set these resumes apart from the typical ones…
Anyway, things progressed, I’ll just leave out the many details of the intervening 25+ years, but I have since run a very successful business using the internet, met many new friends and reconnected with old ones, learned about things I’d never have even heard of otherwise, avidly researched nearly everything from recipes to medical conditions to card game rules to pet training, and even met my husband on the internet! (That last was quite uncommon in 1998!) And to this day, I often wake up with a “Christmas morning” sense of excitement just because I can get online and learn everything about anything I want to!
The impact that the internet has had on my life is immeasurable. There will always be good and bad because of it, and like anything else it must be used responsibly to avoid pitfalls. And the world will never be the same because of it. But overall the internet has arguably led to greatness in too many ways to count.
Happy Internet Day!