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Time Traveling The Net
March 27, 2013 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Check out what the Internet looked like in 1995 in an episode of Computer Chronicles. Topics include: filtering electronic mail in Eudora, using an FTP site, and video streaming a live rock and roll band.
posted by rageagainsttherobots (39 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
...and I was convinced the ideal career for me would be CD ROM design.
posted by davebush at 7:49 AM on March 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


People talk about how better software, more bandwidth, faster processors have changed the computing world so much, but whenever I watch videos of 90s era computing I'm immediately struck by the TINY FREAKING MONITORS. How did we ever get anything accomplished with 10" 400x600 screens?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:56 AM on March 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I miss Eudora.
posted by me3dia at 8:00 AM on March 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


So as far as I can see - in 1995 they basically used the internet for filesharing, email, buying things, bad videos and arguing? - looking at this its actually amazing how little the internet has evolved since then... (only thing missing is "social networking" - which perhaps tells us something!)
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 8:00 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyone else still have problems getting people to use FTP properly?
posted by mfu at 8:01 AM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


The other day I was reading up on Gopher and discovered that Chrome doesn't even support the protocol. That made me a bit sad.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:01 AM on March 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ha! mfu I was just about to say the same thing.
posted by Kabanos at 8:02 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Re: Gopher -- I think Firefox still does. I had a buddy that ran a Gopher server recently, just for the lulz.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:02 AM on March 27, 2013


WELCOME TO PIZZA HUT
posted by mintcake! at 8:07 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to love that show! I lived in a world of Luddites, Computer Chronicles was like a mini vacation with MY people!
posted by HuronBob at 8:08 AM on March 27, 2013


Another Fine ...: So as far as I can see - in 1995 they basically used the internet for filesharing, email, buying things, bad videos and arguing? - looking at this its actually amazing how little the internet has evolved since then... (only thing missing is "social networking" - which perhaps tells us something!)

I disagree. The internet has done things that few people imagined back in 1995. The internet is now about 7000 days old, its already completely changed media and commerce, how we socialise is being transformed, the next big shift is probably in education (which thus far has been based on the idea that you need to get people into a room together if you want to disseminate knowledge efficiently). Ultimately, I think its going to change the way we think as well.

In 1995 I was literally wasting hours of my life debating things with people that could be largely settled these days with 5 minutes of googling. I'm starting to realise that most of the pre-internet thinking I did was akin to stumbling around in the dark.
posted by memebake at 8:10 AM on March 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


"This program is brought to you by Hewlett Packard and Intel" but the content immediately identifies Steve Jobs and Macintosh computers. It's interesting having been on the user end at the time this was produced and the back side now how perception and actual use of networks are portrayed even in the tech media. I wonder what all of the people and companies mentioned thought of this at the time. I assume (if they even noticed it) that they were just happy to have something this forward looking out there.

"Anything goes for now 'cuase we're still exploreres exploring a brand new space" is still alive and well due to the freedoms allowed on the internet. I will fight to the virtual death to keep these digital rights. Almost more than my Constitutional rights because this is my revolution.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:14 AM on March 27, 2013


Waffles without the interesting topography
posted by uncleozzy at 8:16 AM on March 27, 2013


Around that time, my computer had a 40 MB hard drive and 2 MB of RAM. I asked to upgrade, and my boss said that the capacity of my computer is all anyone will ever need. I WAS allowed to purchase a CD-ROM and install it in my mini-tower, though.
posted by Danf at 8:26 AM on March 27, 2013


So as far as I can see - in 1995 they basically used the internet for filesharing, email, buying things, bad videos and arguing

Eh. Mostly for porn, really.
posted by Justinian at 8:28 AM on March 27, 2013


I first got on the internet in 1995, and was using Netscape. What was amazing back then when a new generation of a browser came out, how much the user experience changed. Better graphics, more features, etc. Nowadays things seem to progress more incrementally. There's not the same "whoah, cool!" factor any more.

This is when Myst was groundbreaking and cool.

Funny thing though is I had to dust off my FTP skills recently because I had to image a hard drive for a server from 1991, and that was the only way I could do it.
posted by Eekacat at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2013


I thought this was going to be about this Sandra Bullock movie. Which, incidentally, was released also in 1995.
posted by Wonton Cruelty at 8:31 AM on March 27, 2013


In my opinion, the 2 most important things the internet has brought to us are email and Wikipedia. Fast, easy worldwide communication and a global knowledge resource. It's easy to take those things for granted now, but I try not to forget how remarkable they are. I think my age (51) sort of puts me in a sweet spot - old enough to remember the world pre-internet and young enough to embrace and appreciate new technology.
posted by davebush at 8:36 AM on March 27, 2013


Around that time, my computer had a 40 MB hard drive and 2 MB of RAM

I remember buying 4MB of RAM at a computer show for $32/MB in 1995. I think I talked the guy down from $37. Doom II ran so well.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:39 AM on March 27, 2013


I'm starting to realise that most of the pre-internet thinking I did was akin to stumbling around in the dark.

I think this is true. There were also no accepted experts that ordinary people had access to. Debates turned into "Ask uncle Joe, he knows about stuff like this". You might be able to find answers in an encyclopedia, or almanac, but who had those laying around. I suppose that is why owning a set of encyclopedias was such a status symbol. You could look shit up and be fairly certain it was accurate.

I think I realized the web might be important when I first saw IMDB. It was the first thing I saw that couldn't be easily replaced with gopher. I think it might have been the first site I saw that didn't have static pages. I think even Yahoo had static pages back then.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:42 AM on March 27, 2013


Heh, Eudora! *nostalgia* I was using PINE at the time (95) but remember messing with Eudora sometime around.. 98-99 maybe? Probably just at the end of its life (as is ever the case with me and tech).

at a computer show

Do these still exist? I used to go to these with my dad to buy parts and games and whatnot. Usually got pretty great deals.
posted by curious nu at 8:43 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember having to upgrade my machine from 4M to 16M right around that time so that I could run Windows 95. I bought the simss from someone on alt.pgh.forsale; we met in the parking lot behind a supermarket to exchange the money and memory. It felt a lot like a drug deal.
posted by octothorpe at 8:45 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eekacat: What was amazing back then when a new generation of a browser came out, how much the user experience changed. Better graphics, more features, etc. Nowadays things seem to progress more incrementally. There's not the same "whoah, cool!" factor any more.

http://www.chrome.com/maze/
posted by memebake at 8:47 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm immediately struck by the TINY FREAKING MONITORS.

Worse yet, they were tiny in the two useful dimensions, but enormous in the unwanted one. It took decades for monitors to catch up with the cheap desks and "hutches" they sold in crappy furniture and office supply stores, the ones where you'd see a fake-ass hollow shell of monitor a third the depth of a real one, and if you had any sense at all you'd see that a real one would stick between four and twelve inches out the front and if you actually bought one you'd have to sit several feet away from it with your keyboard on your lap.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:49 AM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


...and I was convinced the ideal career for me would be CD ROM design.

There was a period where Microsoft, for example, was hiring a ton of "content creators" for this. I, however, missed the CD-ROM chariot, as it swung low, and I then made the worst mistake of my career: I thought I had to learn how to use computers well before getting a job, instead of talking some fools into hiring me to learn on their time, circa 1998.
posted by thelonius at 8:59 AM on March 27, 2013


George_Spiggott: Worse yet, they were tiny in the two useful dimensions, but enormous in the unwanted one.

Oh my yes. I remember getting a 12" or 14" color monitor for my Apple IIc round about 1986. I think the thing was at least 30" deep and weighed approximately 200 lbs.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:04 AM on March 27, 2013


Worse yet, they were tiny in the two useful dimensions, but enormous in the unwanted one.

So true. We just pulled out our very old iMac G3 to clean off and then toss. Five-year-old Kabanos Jr. spotted the big colorful blob sitting on the desk:

"What IS that?"

"It's a computer."

"Why is it SO BIG?"

And frickin heavy I may add. Which is another reason why cheap computer desks would disintegrate fairly quickly.
posted by Kabanos at 9:07 AM on March 27, 2013


I was using PINE at the time

Yep. For me in 1995 the internet was PINE, Telnet, Gopher, FTP and primarily Usenet. If I felt brave I'd break open the Lynx. I remember when I managed to get Mosaic working on an X terminal and thought, "What is this sorcery!? Pictures? On the internet? That you don't have to decode manually first?"

Eventually I upgraded from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95 at home and realized that my internet connection wasn't limited to the Telnet window I had been living through. That was the beginning of the end.
posted by charred husk at 10:05 AM on March 27, 2013


Do these still exist? I used to go to these with my dad to buy parts and games and whatnot. Usually got pretty great deals.

Same here. I also remember following my father into the basement suites of the lowest rent professional buildings to get parts from those same computer sellers. Sellers with names like "Signature Computers", "Advanced Computer Solutions", and "Northeast Technology Consultants" who wrote out receipts on restaurant cheque pads and had bare CPUs lined up on plastic shipping flats made of the same material as milk crates.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:23 AM on March 27, 2013


Severe Tire Damage. Heh. That takes me back.
posted by lothar at 12:07 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


me3dia: I miss Eudora.

You can still get it, complete with 1995ish icons. It's been moved over to an open source project, leveraging the thunderbird engine.
posted by MrGuilt at 12:08 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Eudora's interface was always pretty decent, but after about 5ish, which I think was released in 97 or 98 it was dog slow and crashed constantly. Not only that, but the increasing volume of email would cause increasing amounts of index corruption, so I had to reindex our power users' email boxes about twice a week. Good times.

I used PINE straight up until Thunderbird came along, with occasional dabbling in mutt just for variety's sake. Now it's all thunderbird and webmail for me. :P
posted by wierdo at 1:13 PM on March 27, 2013


I thought this was going to be about this Sandra Bullock movie yt . Which, incidentally, was released also in 1995.

Didn't she hack the mainframe in that film?
posted by homunculus at 1:58 PM on March 27, 2013


Eudora was so popular in our office, I managed to do this joke multiple times :
Co-worker: I love Eudora.
Me: Don't call me "Dora".
posted by w0mbat at 3:11 PM on March 27, 2013


Funny thing though is I had to dust off my FTP skills recently because I had to image a hard drive for a server from 1991, and that was the only way I could do it.

Similarly, about a year or two ago, I had to retrieve data from an ooooold UMAX "pizza box" mac clone from circa 1995, running Mac OS 7.something, SCSI hard drive, no usb ports, broken floppy drive - long story short, no SMB support over ethernet - I ended up finding a really really old version Fetch or somesuch - an ancient FTP app, and getting everything off the box thataway. Blurgh.
posted by stenseng at 3:48 PM on March 27, 2013


Around that time, my computer had a 40 MB hard drive and 2 MB of RAM. I asked to upgrade, and my boss said that the capacity of my computer is all anyone will ever need.

That reminds me of the conversations I get into about the different storage ranges of portable media like floppy disks, USB sticks, and SD cards.

We had a modern floppy drive you could hook up to a computer via USB and for a lark, perhaps, thought about putting some files on it, for old times' sake. The file in question was 16 MB. The floppy could only hold about 1.44.
posted by aroweofshale at 7:27 PM on March 27, 2013


> So as far as I can see - in 1995 they basically used the internet for filesharing, email, buying things, bad videos and arguing? - looking at this its actually amazing how little the internet has evolved since then... (only thing missing is "social networking" - which perhaps tells us something!)

Social networking was not called that, but much of the same basic premises and behavior were already well-established via local-area multiline BBSs. I was grateful to the web for freeing content without a whit of care for long-distance telephone charges, but it did seem to take an awfully long time for the socializing idea to catch on and expand to scale.

Actually, back in the day, the hard part was buying things. Swapping and buying informally, sure, but it took seemingly foreeeevvverrrr to get the financial industry ducks in a row for true online commerce.
posted by desuetude at 11:28 PM on March 27, 2013


I got a job at an ISP in 1995 by answering the interview question, "What level of technical expertise fo you have?" With, "I got an non-OEM 2400 bit ISA modem card working and connected to my local BBS where I could send email via FIDOnet."
posted by bystander at 1:03 AM on March 28, 2013


Man, I loved this show. I used to wait anxiously for their annual awards show, as well as their annual East vs. West trivia contest. One episode was a 'throwback' (were it broadcast today, it would be a meta-throwback) to the 198x contest when Bill Gates was a semi-nobody. He did...poorly.

So, yeah. I like computers.
posted by spamguy at 5:56 AM on March 29, 2013


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