The Keys to the Internet
Maggie Koerth-Baker

Wandering aimlessly

I didn't know exactly what the Internet was for, either, but I knew I just had to have it. In 1995, a guy on a BBS told me about a provider he had found. I wrote them a letter, they mailed me a form to fill and a bill to pay. I faxed back form and bank receipt. Days later, I received a thick envelope with an instruction manual, login and password.

Because of unstable dial up connections, it took me weeks to download the software kit required (Microsoft, at the time, ignored Internet as a nerd thing, so everything had to be downloaded from third parties and installed on Windows 3.11). The kit filled 3 floppy disks and came complete with Netscape, Eudora, FTP, telnet, newsgroup, dialer and even a picture processing program.

At first, I didn't know what to do online, so I visited every site I read about on papers or magazines, just for the sheer wonder of seeing texts and graphics unfolding on the screen from somewhere. Then I found the search tools and would spend hours following links aimlessly.

Eventually, I collected a number of interesting sites that I'd visit regularly and stopped wandering.

Except for the people I knew from the BBS, nobody else in my family or company used the Internet. Indeed, until 1997, at least, very few even knew what it was.

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