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