Tell us about your first time … on the internet. Was it gentle?

Australia marks 25th anniversary of first internet connection

Photo of a vintage analog modem with an acoustic coupler

The University of Melbourne this week marked the 25th anniversary of Australia's first internet connection, which took place on June 24th, 1989.

The Uni says the momentous connection was made in what was then called its Department of Computer Science, after NASA prodded pacific nations to get on board the internet. The first bit of traffic was a Ping. There's more information about the connection at The Conversation.

To mark the occasion, it seems sensible to ask what your first time on the net looked like?

My special day happened in late 1992. I'd heard about this Internet thing so scraped together the $250 needed to acquire a 2400 baud modem for my Mac LCII.

“Baud” isn't a term one sees very often these days. 2400 translates to 9.6 kilobits per second or 0.009375 Mbps. Today my ADSL2+ internet connection is humming along at 16 Mbps.

I did not initially connect to the internet itself. Instead I signed up with a user group called Club Mac that used to operate a bulletin board. From memory one was allowed an hour a day on the board, which was part of “FidoNet”, an internetwork for bulletin boards.

FidoNet was a store-and-forward affair: once or twice a day Club Mac would send out all emails intended for recipients beyond its own membership and also collect incoming messages. Email round trips were therefore about a day in a best-case scenario. Bits of Usenet also filtered through, exposing me to some of the wider internet as it was in 1992 and 1993.

Using Club Mac was easy because an outfit called Spider Island Software had made a client that closely resembled the System 7 Finder.

I later acquired an account with Australia's first commercial internet service provider, Dialix. That account offered just a command line, so I quickly had to wrap my head around some Unix syntax, email apps like “Elm” and “Pine”, “tin” for newsgroups, and of course Lynx, the early web browser.

By the end of 1993 posts on Club Mac and the usegroups I accessed through Dialix were mentioning something called “Mosaic” rather a lot. The rest, as they say, is history.

Even once I went graphical, I still used dialup until 2001. The experience wasn't always shabby. Indeed, whenever I travel overseas and try to find some WiFi I fondly remember the IBM Global Network, a dialup internet service with nodes in hundreds of cities around the world and an impeccable client that made finding the right number a doddle.

But enough of my yakking.

What was your first time like?

Let us know in the special forum we've set up to discuss first time experiences. ®

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