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What was the internet like in 1989, heres a reproduction you can navigate!

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I'm a BT lifer, retired now but when I moved to the BT Networks group, maybe 1987 ish? they were starting to build the UK backbone which ultimately became the UK www, fortunately I dont remember any of it apart from endless hours spent cabling & racking,  7 days a week, no time off till it was done!  The upside was our group was the first in the company to have email addresses!
After using topic-specific dial-up BBS's for years, Usenet was a revelation - so much variety of topics, you'd waste hours just checking out the weird ones!
Later I moved into Network Design & Security, still within BT, and at the time the UK government wanted a free system to give everyone in the UK an email address.  The result was a web-based email system called Talk21 which was my very first project in the new job.  Though the platform is long gone, and I'm long retired, my talk21 address is still my main email :-)

Late to the party... this thread brought back all kinds of memories.  I was at SGI during most of this.  I remember in the very early days Bob always pushing us to get some usenet connectivity, because that's where the fun was.  Newsgroups -- something beyond just email back and forth with UUCP.  Conversations.

I remember years later overhearing hallway conversations as folks were trying to get this new horribly flaky browser code to run somewhat stabily on our early machines.  I'm pretty sure Brendan E was involved in that, and I think Kipp had a hand, and others.  (The elite group that got the fun stuff.)  I remember the conversation going "Yes, well, but for it to get popular, it's going to have to be easy and fun, and the browser is really important.  Nobody's going to do all that command-line stuff; they want to click and get visible results and such."  And then somebody saying "Bandwidth.  Goling to have to get bandwidth for everybody."  And I remember other conversations...  "Oh, Netscape is a new startup; a bunch of folks are going to go over there and take a chance on this new browser thing."

I remember developers having this vision about hyperlinks being a much more normal part of your flow while browsing; that you would manually click on the link for a sub-topic that you were interested in, read all about it, and then return to where you were to continue the main article.  You can do that these days, but it's not really the major element that we thought it would be.  It's more page-level than "little block of content", and the links are pretty well hidden most of the time, because they're really not all that fun.

Hm.  I think those folks were right about browsers being important; and in spite of all the technical stuff that was necessary to make it happen, a reasonable GUI browser was the core of making people WANT to get connected and start doing stuff.  So Brendan took off with some other folks and we ended up with Javascript.  And Google appeared from nowhere a while later, at first a non-descript little building on some street in Mountain View that I often drove past on the way to lunch... who would have guessed they would take over the world?  I just remember thinking "What a silly name!  Where we gonna go for lunch?"

Anyway, technology doesn't necessarily drive people's desires for more, more, more, unless it's interesting and accessible and all that.  And it's the user-facing stuff that matters to most folks; what's underneath, arguing about protocols and terminology and such didn't have anything to do with making "the thing" popular.  The technology makes it possible, that's all.

It's all very simple... just get people to say "Ooh!  That's neat!  I want THAT!" and the technology will be made available with better performance and features for less money.  Or a variation on the theme; I think in some cases in more recent years, people have pushed that desire from the technological side, and sorta persuade people through peer pressure that this is the thing they're supposed to want now.  Which is sad.

I remember Prestel which came way before the internet.
I was working on Prestel adaptors in 1981 onwards.
It was the same display as Teletext but data came from a Prestel computer on  telephone line.
Baud rates were 1200 receive and 75 transmit.


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