Home internet – let’s look at how it all began!
Australia joined the global internet 32 years ago on June 23, 1989 via a connection made by the University of Melbourne. It was mostly only used by computer scientists though. It was a slow start! At first, network capacity was limited to very small volumes of information. By the end of 1997, there were estimated to be 1.6 million Internet users in Australia (8.6% of the population), with 1 million being relatively frequent users. The majority were using dial-up access, with modems capable of up to 33.6Kbps, with 56Kbps modems newly available.
I don’t remember the exact year or date we got access to the internet at home but I know that my kids were little. My youngest was born in 1995 so I think it was very late 1990’s.
We had a set up very similar to the one pictured above. A corded mouse, a mouse pad, the tower to accommodate the floppy disk drives and all the electronic stuff that is way beyond me (still to this day)! The set up was rather bulky and very much a dust collector!
Of course back then connecting to the internet was done via a dial-up-connection and was fraught with difficulty. If someone was on the phone it couldn’t happen. If someone tried to phone while you were connected, it could bump you off, and sometimes for no known reason, it just wouldn’t connect. You had no choice but to give up and try again later. See if you remember this magical sound of connection:
I had the computer set up in the family room so that I could supervise the kids use of it. That’s right – just the one computer for the whole family! That would be unheard of nowadays. The kids mostly used it to play games (safe kids games that weren’t on the internet but accessed from a floppy disk) and were always given a time limit. The internet back then was very different to now. Now information on basically anything is just a ‘Google’ away. We do our banking and shopping via the internet. We have our own websites and blogs, and much more. I’m not sure what the internet was mostly used for back then but it was exciting to be able to “surf the net” and send emails!
Of course the computers back then were very different to what we have today too – not only in how bulky they looked but their functionality and screen appearance. Computer displays in the 1980’s were pretty limited, with resolutions of 640×480 pixels or lower, with crude colours or just black and white. Better screens, starting at 1024×768, first became widely available in the early 1990s. Computer processing speed was clunky but add to that the very sluggish internet speed back in the 1990’s and you needed the patience of a saint! Internet speed in the 1990’s was incredibly slow. We wouldn’t have the patience for it now! For example in the 1990’s the average internet speed was 0024 Mbps (megabits per second) and today in 2021 the average internet speed is 96.98 Mbps.
And for a bit of fun here’s Homer Simpson’s recollection of the old dial-up internet connection days.
It’s incredible how far technology has come since those first exciting days of internet access. I can’t imagine what technology is available to us in another 10-20 years!
What memories do you have of when you first got internet access in your home? I’d love to read your memories in the comments!
Ciao for now
I was an adult when we first got interenet in the home – I remember getting internet in the office! We had one computer we had to share. It was so nuts. Then we all had computers but had one laptop to take the clients to demo software on – it was so heavy…so weird to think about now. #Lifethisweek.
I was an adult too Lydia, and Mum to three kids! We all shared the one computer so had a roster and time allowance.
Hi Min, coming to you from #lifethisweek! Oh my, internet! Living in the US I had access to the sloowww internet in 1987 at work. There were two old computers shared by 10 people, probably only 2 used them. At home we got AOL through modem in 1987. I remember surfing what net there was and 4 hours later I’m realizing I’ve been on it that long! FF to today, in our new home in Spokane, Washington (moved in mid March) we just got satellite internet less than a month ago. Had to blog with my phone or use the laptop on my phone plan’s data hotspot. Not fun. Amazing how we rely on the online world, even more so since the pandemic. Lovely to read your experience with internet, Min! Have a great day!
You got internet sooner than us over there in the US, Terri! In the late 90’s I was a stay at home Mum. Luckily we’d got internet and email because it really helped when I returned to the workforce in 2000 or 2001 (can’t remember which year). It was a whole new world out there in the workforce. We each had our own email address, there was a thing called intranet and there were servers and meeting requests and so much more and I loved it all! You’re right – time used to fly when we got on ‘the net’ back then. Most of it was spent waiting to connect or reconnect!! lol
Oh this brought back memories! I first got internet at home when I was 16 and had just started Year 12 I think. Even then, it was in my parents’ room, would drop out every time someone called (because dial-up!), and I think I used to send emails (though I don’t know who!) and to chat. I remember going into chat rooms on MSN and Yahoo and talking to strangers and also trawling through the interwebs to find photos of my favourite cricketers! We’ve come a long, long way from there!
You’re so much younger than me Sanch! lol 16 and in Year 12 when I was early to mid-30’s and a Mum of three! lol Yes the internet was always dropping out cos someone would call. Now I hardly ever get calls on the landline and if I do they are usually scam or nuisance calls. I remember going into chat rooms too. I joined one on Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) and it was full of breeders and pet owners and I learnt a lot about the breed before I purchased my first CKCS. We certainly have come a long way since those days. Makes me wonder what is next?!!
I can’t remember getting it at home but I can remember using email for the first time. I was working in government I think and you had to type in the smtp before emailing anyone outside of the organisation.
I don’t remember having to type in the smtp before emailing anyone outside the organisation but that is probably because I was home with babies at that stage. I remember returning to the workforce and being amazed at the progress since I’d left when pregnant with my twins. It was a whole new world and I loved it!
This was definitely a trip down memory lane for me! We had a computer set-up much like your photo, in 1997. I bought it because I was studying long distance. To search the internet was unheard of. You had to type in the exact website address. It was dial-up and there were floppy discs to store information. I wouldn’t let my kids use it because they were very small – 18 months and 4 years old. They had a Playstation 1 instead for their games a few years later. I loved playing Solitaire on the computer and still play it on my phone. We did have computerised records in the hospital but they were very basic and used DOS as an operating system. Internet Explorer was the main search engine back then. Going back even further to 1983, my high-school had one computer for the whole school and we only used it in our Economics class.
My kids were 2 and 4.5 year old twins back in 1997. How time flies! I loved reading your memories of that time Christina – thank you for sharing them!
Such a lot of memories here Min, that noise of the connection going through and the size and capacity of the computers back in the day! So much has changed in a relatively short time hasn’t it? I’m pleased to say I’m happy with how things are today rather than be stuck back then.
That dial up connection noise – I’ll never forget it. The anticipation and much finger crossing hoping for connection!! I’m much happier with how things are today too!
What a great reminder of what life was like!! I remember our first computer was a Commodore 64 and it was for games and for me to do my first ever Uni essays on a computer not a typewriter. I remember the internet connection from around 1995-6 when we had moved to a bigger house and I had a great study space. Still, it was all about one line in for phone too. That changed with 2 phone lines when we moved to another house and that made life far more easy to connect. We have stayed with Apples mostly, with one or two goes with PCs but we know what we like and stick with it.
Thanks so much for joining in #LifeThisWeek link up on Monday 14 June. Your presence, comment on my post & adding your blog post too helps make a caring, connected community on-line. Next week the optional prompt is Share Your Snaps. Warm wishes, Denyse.
I actually don’t remember our first computer but I think it was an IBM much like the one in the image with this post. Great to hear your memories of those days Denyse!
This was such a fun post! Oh my goodness – these sounds of the dial-up – hearing them makes me cringe! 😆
I wasn’t on the internet until maybe 1998. It was so expensive and so slow. I remember how photos loaded back then, pixel by pixel. When I got my first broadband around 2003 it was like a miracle. It was the “Christmas gift of the year” in Sweden that year if I remember correctly.
My first computer was Windows 3.0 that looked like yours in the photo. Later I got one with Windows 97 which was replaced by something with Windows XP when I studied at nursing school and my computer was about to crash while I was writing an important assignment.
Later I married a paid computer geek (aka system developer) so after that I’ve always had access to good tech stuff. But although I’m now sitting with a fancy Apple M1 Macbook Pro that I wouldn’t change for anything else, looking back to those old tech days brings back such sweet memories!
The dial up sound makes me cringe too Suzanne – reminds me of the anxious wait to see if you’d get a connection or not. I don’t remember exactly when we were on the internet but I think very late 90’s and yes it was VERY very very slow! LOL – very handy marrying a computer geek – set for life you are now! So nice to read your memories Susanne – thank you!
Interesting look back in time. Technology has changed so much just in my lifetime and continues to change by the moment.
It sure does change by the moment. It’s starting to get a bit hard to keep up with! It certainly is incredible how much things have advanced since the 90’s that’s for sure. It will be interesting to see what the next couple of decades bring!
Loved that youtube clip, I remember games loading by cassette with that noise! 4 mins of pain wondering if it was going to work!
Yes I remember holding my breath and the relief when it connected and the frustration when it didn’t!