On October 8, 1993 CBS ran the following news article entitled A network called ‘Internet’. It’s fascinating to look back at the early days, and I recall them very well. In fact, by the time this video aired I had been online for years, and had even been selling PCs with modems and Internet connectivity via CompuServe and Prodigy since 1990.
In the earliest days of consumer Internet adoption, the first big ISP was CompuServe. It was not unusual in the early 1980s to have to pay a $30-per-hour charge (that would be $21,600 per month!) for a dial-up connection speed of 1200 bps. That’s just over 1 Kb – on a good day – as compared to our current broadband connections that normally exceed 1,500,000 bps or 1,250 times the original speed.
That’s right kids, today we get 1,250 times the original speed of the Internet at about 1/720 the cost. That means the cost per unit of Internet has dropped to 1/900,000th in just 20 years. Too bad other prices for services haven’t decreased so radically!
By the time this video was made in 1993, America Online (also known as AOL), had only just released a version for the still new Windows operating system. Originally, AOL charged its users an hourly fee, but in 1996 this changed and a flat rate of $19.99 a month was charged. Within three years, AOL’s user base grew to 10 million people. During this time, AOL connections would be flooded with users trying to get on, and many canceled their accounts due to constant busy signals.
By mid-1996 I had established HTMLHelp.com as a reference site to help people learn to create Web pages. That year, if I recall correctly, we had over 300,000 visits to the site; a number which originally astounded me (we now get over 25 Million annually), especially given the fact that there were only an estimated 100,000 sites on the Web (as of 1/2007 Netcraft estimates there are 107 million sites).
Anyway, enough with the walk down memory lane. Here’s the video from the old days. Anyone under the age of 20 probably won’t even recognize the Internet as it’s displayed here.