Reddit users remember the ‘old’ internet

If you’re millennials or older, you remember the days of the internet that included dial-up modems, AOL chat rooms, or print directions to get to your destination.

Explore a recent Reddit thread with over 41,000 comments about the “old” days of the internet world, where things were, frankly, different from the “urban sprawl” of today’s digital age, as one user described it.

The Internet more than 20 years ago was like a different world from what people are used to today. Reddit users remember what made the web so full of adventure but also hard work.
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AOL, or America Online, was predominant in thread responses. It was almost impossible to be an adult or child in the ’90s and not remember installing an AOL 4.0 disk on your desktop computer, or receiving disks in the mail that provided 500 hours of free internet use to lure users into the concept.

One might eventually hear different voices from the bot as your phone line was used to “connect” to a web service that seems synonymous with everyone. But in 1998, you couldn’t connect if someone was using the phone, so families were often filled with arguments over who could get online, when and for how long.

“When I first set up the internet in the mid-90s, I accidentally called a long-distance number,” one user said. “My dad received a $2,800 phone bill. We don’t have internet in our house anymore.”

Successful users were greeted with a cheerful message, “You’ve Got Mail!” Before entering chat rooms full of strangers from all over the world. Reddit users remembered how chat rooms had messages everywhere reading “A/S/L” asking other users their age, gender, and location.

If users were not booted from closed chat rooms due to their inactivity by the moderator, they would see messages that looked like the modern version of “phishing”.

Go to AOL chat rooms and say, ‘Hey! They put a fireworks display in the chat! One user said, hold Alt and press F4 and you’ll see it!

And if you really want to visit websites, users have to type the entire web URL, including “www” at the beginning of the web address or else the site won’t load. This is a practice that has faded in the past decade.

If you arrive at your default destination, it is often an abstract style web page on Angelfire or Geocities with simple text and little knowledge interaction. Sites often included guestbooks for users to say they had stopped by, as well as web counters that showed overall how many users had visited the site since its inception.

“I learned in school that you can check the credibility of a website based on the counter,” said one Redditor.

Navigating all the websites was not easy, because popups were everywhere and programs were not there to block them. Early internet users remember loading a webpage and being bombarded with many popups, and you were lucky that your computer with little RAM didn’t freeze.

Wikipedia didn’t exist, but Microsoft Encarta was, and it was everywhere. It was a digital multimedia encyclopedia – and an online subscription was essential. Users insert discs into the CD to learn languages ​​or other content in interactive ways. Microsoft eventually made the entire content library available to subscribers in 2000, only for Wikipedia to blow it out of the water about a year later.

“I loved Encarta,” one Redditor said. “We didn’t have internet until 2003, so my brother and I mostly used the computer to run AoE, make pixel art in Paint and read Encarta. Sometimes our dad gave us CDs with demos.”

Before Google or Quora, people chose “Ask Jeeves” for help. Instead of looking at memes on Reddit, people visited Ebaum’s World or Newgrounds to play games or access sound boards. When music downloads became ubiquitous, everyone and their friends had Napster, Kazaa, or Limewire programs that (illegally) downloaded music played on Windows Media Player, Winamp, or Real Player – the latter seemed impossible to uninstall.

And if you were a kid in the ’90s, you’ve likely seen at least one of your parents carrying sheets of printed directions from MapQuest for a car trip to an unknown destination. Google Maps and a car GPS were years away.

One user said: “I remember how my parents’ marriage survived when my mom dropped the printed set of MapQuest instructions on the passenger floorboards and disrupted everything.”

In a bridge from the past to the present, early Gmail users had to be invited so that they had the opportunity to create their own personal email addresses. There were only a limited number of invites available when Gmail was launched on April 1, 2004, so users had to pick and choose who would enter the new Internet limits.

“I remember getting into a fight with my boyfriend at the time because he wasn’t sure if I deserved one of his Gmail invites,” Redditor recalls. “He’s long gone but he’s still using that account.”

Gmail has more than 1.8 billion users today and that number is still growing, according to Tech Jury.