A random post to an online forum I frequent jolted into memory a fact that I hadn’t considered before today…
I’ve been online for 15 years.
That’s almost as long as the World Wide Web itself has been around.
I bought my first computer way back in 1988, with a chunk of my original Jeopardy! winnings. This wonderful addition was an Apple Macintosh Plus, equipped with what seemed at the time like almost unlimited memory — a full megabyte of internal RAM, supplemented by an outboard hard drive boasting 20 (yes, 20!) MB. Heck, on my current Windows Vista-powered Dell notebook, a single keystroke exhausts 20 MB. (I’m exaggerating, but not by much.) But back in the day, that kind of juice meant I was living large in the cybernetic age.
Even more bizarre, I equipped that microscopically brained Mac with a slightly used floor-demo laser printer that cost more than all the computer hardware I’ve purchased in the 20 years since. Combined.
My Mac Plus and I chugged along happily together for six years, blissful in our word-processing glory. Then, in 1994, I started hearing about some newfangled “Internet” thing, and this “World Wide Web” that made it accessible to the common man. So, being about as common as men come, I invested in a fancy new Mac that not only possessed scads more computing power than my charming old relic, but even came with a color (!) monitor. Best of all, by connecting a snazzy dialup modem, I could launch myself out onto the WWW and communicate with folks near and far.
Talk about living large.
At the time, Apple offered its own self-branded online service for Mac users only, known as eWorld. I was, I’m fairly certain, one of the original handful of eWorld subscribers, joining shortly after the service went live in the summer of ’94. When eWorld debuted, it featured a quaint graphic interface that collected all of the possible online destinations under a handful of category umbrellas, organized to make the Internet feel like a global village.
Newsstand enabled one to connect with news and sports resources. What few e-commerce sites existed then were grouped under Marketplace. Such nexuses as Arts and Leisure Pavilion, Business and Finance Plaza, and Learning Center collected other types of sites. Computer Center offered Mac technical support. Community Center was eWorld’s native aggregation of forums and bulletin boards. If you couldn’t figure out where to go or what to do, you tapped the Info Booth icon.
Navigating eWorld was clunky and far from intuitive. in those halcyon days, though, one thrilled at the mere notion of linking to a world of information with a few clicks of a (single-button) mouse.
Frankly, there never was more than a smattering of citizens populating eWorld. That explains why Apple pulled the plug on the service less than two years later, fobbing us loyalists off on then-nascent America Online. In March 1996, my electronic address changed overnight from my very first, SwanShadow-at-eWorld-dot-com, to the somehow less cool-sounding SwanShadow-at-AOL-dot-com. (I imagine that latter e-dress is probably still extant, even though I haven’t accessed it in a half-decade or more.)
Without question, I’ve seen incredible change along the information superhighway over the last 15 years. It’s faster, infinitely more diverse, and innumerable ways exist to find what you’re searching for.
It’s just hard to believe I’ve been out here in the ether this long.