Practical Technology

for practical people.

Before the Internet: The golden age of online services


Many of you, perhaps even most of you, think of the Internet as a birthright. You’ve always had it, you can no more imagine life without it than you can imagine life without electricity. Believe it or not, though, the Internet you know and love only dates back to 1991 and the Commercial Internet eXchange (CIX). Before that if you were just an ordinary Jane or Joe and wanted to be online you needed not an ISP connection — they didn’t exist yet — but an account on one of the online services such as America Online (AOL), BIX, CompuServe, GEnie, Prodigy, or a local bulletin board system (BBS).

Oh sure, the Internet had been already around for decades by the early ’90s. But, unless you were at a university, government agency, or a research institution you had precious little chance of getting an Internet connection. Besides, the pre-Web Internet was about as user friendly as a bad-tempered Doberman.

Before the Internet: The golden age of online services. More >

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