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The Nerdist Crew Shares Their Earliest Internet Memories

Gather round, children, it’s time to hear a story about ye olden days when people didn’t carry a tiny computer around in their pocket and have access to a wealth of information right at their fingertips. Here, for your enjoyment, is a Buzzfeed video where some of the familiar faces within the Nerdist empire weigh in on their earliest internet experiences.

Observe! Chris Hardwick explains in a delightful manner how the “internet” experience was like going to Disneyland. And Jessica Chobot – well, this is Buzzfeed, so let’s just say: Jessica Chobot Started Talking About Her Time In The Early Days Of The Internet, And You Won’t Believe The Shocking Realization She Has!

Seriously, her face is so GIF-able, it’s really wonderful.

It’s true though – back in those days, to gain access to the “internet” you had to actually connect to something, listen to a horrible screeching noise, and “surf” said “internet.” In fact, sometimes we didn’t even call it the “internet,” we called it the “World Wide Web.” Oh, and we pretty much all used AOL. My first e-mail address was the unwieldy krstnrth [at] aol [dot] com — because who needs vowels when you’re being cool on the internet? Not this gal!

What about all of you out there – tell us your early internet story!

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  1. Chris says:

    Some of my favorite memories were with Prodigy. There were 2 games that my siblings and I used to play. One was some type of 3D maze and the other was a “Police Sketch Artist” one, where you were shown a picture of the criminal for a short amount of time, and had to piece back together the image. 

  2. tiff052780 says:

    I vaguely remember in the late 80s using the DOS computer at home and logging into our local library to look up information on books for school reports. Then going to the library to actually pick them up.
    When we got the computer with Windows, AOL came along. My parents and I had one login that we all shared, and eventually became mine since it was my name and the string of numbers was my birthday.
    I still remember discovering chat rooms, fanfiction on message boards, and the first time someone I *actually* knew IM’d me. Good times.

  3. salvatier says:

    I remember getting my hands on of many AOL free trial CD-roms. They were everywhere. When I’d get dangerously close to getting charged, I would call to cancel and they’d just extend my free trial. When I exhausted those extensions, I’d pick up a coaster (aka AOL free trial CD) and start all over again. I successfully never paid a dime for AOL. And yeah…I don’t feel bad about it. Le sigh…to be young again.

  4. cpierpoint says:

    You should do a follow up post on early “webmasters.” I remember we used to improve rankings on the Yahoo index by adding an * to the site’s name. We also included guestbooks on sites so people could let you know they stopped by your site while on the Information Super Highway. 

  5. AOL 3.0 – back when Winnuke still corrupted win95 users, KoRn flood scrips were all the rave, and the Red Dragon Inn was the place to be.

    User:  Lord Jonis

    After about a year a friend introduced me to IRC, and a whole new understanding of what the internet is was born.

  6. Larry says:

    Ahhh…the memories.  AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy..I had memberships on them all.  Had my parents put in a second phone line, so I wouldn’t get kicked off.  Some of us still rock our old school AOL addresses.

  7. expectdelay says:

    I still miss my old pipeline email address …  i wonder if earthlink would let me have it back?  also i remember being amazed by a coin operated terminal to check my college email that i found on a road trip in a hostel in San Fran

  8. Joe Camp says:

    I remember when I was 12 or so… It was $4.95/hr for AOL in the beginning (after you exhausted the “200 free hours!” 3-1/2in floppy they spammed in the mail), CompuServe, and I was AMAZED when DSL first came out.

    Just waiting to have that Google Fiber first moment now!

  9. grim says:

    I remember people phishing in chatrooms.
    Hey AOL blocks your password when you type it!

  10. PixieMegh says:

    Prodigy! It was so much better than AOL. I remember telling my friends about the “internet” and everyone telling me how lame it sounded. HA!!  When they all got AOL several years later they were all hooked. It was a big fat “I told you so” moment.

  11. amy says:

    The first thing I did was look at porn – because I’d heard ALL about that. Then, unimpressed, I looked up Robert Jordan and Wheel of Time, landed at (now defunct) and inadvertently joined my first internet community, long before Facebook made it cool to be a part of an internet community.. 

  12. I’m was an old school Renegade BBS sysop back in the early 90s when the web didn’t even exist. We had to connect to systems via the ancient POTS (plain old telephone system) at whirlwind speeds of 2400 bits per second and then use archaic tech like Archie, Gopher and WAIS to get anything done. Kids today have it easy. Meh! 🙂

  13. Lauren says:

    We had Prodigy, Aol, and Sierra Online. My brothers and I would get in trouble almost every month for racking up the charges to be online. 

  14. gsmraxe says:

    Had a shell account with Netcom back in the day, my introduction into the world of Unix.  Before that I called and ran a BBS.  I loved the days of email with elm, ftp to get files, telnet, archie, gopher & endless hours reading through usenet.  I was floored when I upgraded to a SLPP account and could access the WWW and in color.  😉

  15. Ger de Haas says:

    Well, at least you all where able to “browse” something. In my opinion the first Internet was BBS (Bulletin Board System). Hooked up my VIC 20 to a 27MC. You could only chat a bit and sent text files or really small programs (less than 1 MB or so)

  16. JacobyDave says:

    I was on pre-commercial-internet, back into the late 1980s, and my favorite thing was that, when people called me, I was bumped off with NO CARRIER a second before the phone would ring, so I could pick it up and say “hello” before people would expect.

  17. I had Prodigy -and- AOL, at least for awhile, and I used to play these text-based games called Gemstone III and DragonRealms on each, because I think it was the only way to have seconds/alts.  It was middle school, too, which is the worst time to be carrying your printed out binders of online RPG guides, but hell..  It seemed more covert than my Dungeon Master’s Guide.

  18. DJax says:

    Prodigy! We paid per minute and buy in blocks of a half hour, I think… I remember hating AOL when Prodigy went under but it was the only option. 

  19. Jamie Cooper says:

    I messed around on the internet as a teen before it was widely available to the public, it was mostly used for bulletin boards Trade wars, ect.. occasionally someone would pirate a game from a company before it was released but, my first memory of public internet at home was of my pal jumping on my computer to “show me how to internet” and he brought up a photo of someone shitting into some other persons mouth who was chewing it up, and I had to look away from the monitor and leave the room because I could taste stomach bile building up. so we decided to print it out and show it to our co-workers who all laughed uncomfortably and held back puking. yep, all the accumulated information of mankind available and we used it to see someone eating shit out of another persons ass… ‘MERICA FUCK YEAH!

  20. Aldrea says:

    Downloading individual song files from Napster.  Each song took upwards of an hour.

    • mmaves says:

      Downloading individual song files from Napster – but hitting the 55 minute mark and having the transfer interrupted when i was unjustly kicked off-line because my stupid parents had to use the phone.  Ahhh, didn’t have my first T1 line until college…memories 🙂

  21. Chrispix says:

    My earliest memory of the internet was signing on in the 90s and thinking I was going to make the jump to hyperspace with all the sounds my computer was making. Being that it was the same colors as the Millennium Falcon may have lead me to that conclusion, I was only 12 though.