In The Beginning

In The BeginningI was just thinking of how far we've come with regards to the way we use the Internet. Today, I use the Internet to do all my banking, purchase concert or sporting event tickets, remotely connect to my work's network to gain access to various servers for work purposes, use email as my primary method of communication, transfer large (and small) files, listen to radio stations from all around the world, surf the web for news, entertainment and various other points of interest and I maintain the site you're reading right now. It's a very large part of my daily life.

Back in 1994/1995, I was a student of the University of Toronto. We were each given an email address and our student card granted us access to a number of Internet-connected computers scattered throughout the St. George campus. I remember lining up to use a terminal so I could log in to my michael.boon@utoronto.ca account to send a message to one of my few friends who had an email account, one of whom was my wife. Nothing was more exciting than logging on to see you had a few messages from a few friends. It was so new and so instant. By the way, at this time, all messages were sent and received in plain text without attachments. I was excited about words!

These same terminals we used granted students access to the world wide web. Visiting sports pages changed the way I could monitor stats. I remember visiting pages for news outlets like CNN and The Toronto Star to access the latest news. There were also a few free web-based email options sprouting up and gaining steam, and I made sure I grabbed the username mikeboon from Yahoo!. It would be my primary address for years. The world wide web was awesome, and I knew I had to bring this connectivity into my bachelor apartment on 30 Charles Street West.

This is my favourite part of this particular trip down memory lane. A telecommunications company called ACC was always on campus pushing their unlimited dial-up Internet access on students. They offered a decent rate and bonus gifts for those who signed up on the spot. Inheriting a new computer through marriage, I decided to bring the web home and signed up. Are you ready for this? We never, ever received a single bill for our Internet access. We used it daily and it became a huge part of my life but the goofs at ACC goofed up the billing and this hard working part-time grocery clerk wasn't going to alert them of their error. We surfed for free until we left that apartment over a year later.

We've come a long way but I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg. One day we'll laugh at the way we streamed audio and video. One day we'll be telling our grandkids about how we used the Internet in 2004 and they'll roll their eyes and think we were in the middle ages. I'll just call up this entry and show them I predicted it would be so.


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