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When the Information Superhighway was new

I don’t know about you, but most days I can use something to smile about.

A couple of days ago, I came across an article on Gizmodo that includes a link to a Computer Chronicles episode from 1995 in which Stewart Cheifet explores the then-mysterious Information Superhighway.

I’ll confess that I sat through the entire half-hour video, and it’s fascinating from many different points of view. First, there’s the nostalgia element – mentions of Eudora and CompuServe, and the CRT that Stewart uses in the cyber-café.  Then there’s the warning that “the Internet can be a pretty intimidating place”, which seems pretty funny these days, now that everyone from three-year-olds to great-grandparents are able to navigate around pretty well.

Also interesting were the precursors of things to come:

  • Severe Tire Damage as the first band to broadcast on the ‘net. (With warnings that, if a lot of band tried to do this once, there wouldn’t be enough bandwidth to support it.)
  • A section on FTP, where you can “download entire copies of books”, as long as they’re in the public domain.
  • A look at usenet groups, noting that “with thousands of user groups, there’s something for everyone.”
  • And the possibility raised that there may be money to be made on the Internet, which will work better when there’s a secure place to leave your credit card number.

We have all gotten so accustomed to the Internet of Everything, it’s easy to forget the baby-steps on the information superhighway that were being made fewer than twenty years ago.

Remember when they used to say that “the Internet changes everything”?

I think that “they” pretty much had it right.

Anyway, if you want to have some fun on your lunch break, check out the video.