We’ve come a long way.

Exactly ten years ago we bought a modem as my sister had convinced my parents to not wait until my birthday in October (yes, I’ve never used anything like BBS and mailboxes). So I was able to send my first email to a friend from my parents’ place on July 12th, 1999 using Mozilla 4.6 on Windows98. Later on I switched to “The Bat!”, and Evolution 1.0.3 in May 2002.

Friends of mine had gotten internet a bit earlier and it was interesting to see the new opportunitities offered by it, e.g. chatting or access to information. We were also able to use internet at school – three Windows 98 computers (with 166-233MHz if I remember correctly) were available.
alt-232, btk3003, t69m & me founded Shutdown Crew – another anniversary to celebrate. From nowadays’ point of view I’d call our activities scriptkiddieing but still I pretend that it was about experimentally using available technology at that time (while having lots of fun). ;-)

For a few months I even had a dial-up flatrate at home (until that company went bankrupt). So Napster was running only at night and my parents could use their phoneline at day. The first usage of IRC probably took place here too.
After moving from my parents’ place to a town with a university I still used to have a modem dial-up connection for years until our neighbour offered us to share his broadband wifi. After that you won’t go back.
When I started bugwork on Evolution in Ximian Bugzilla my IRC usage was totally different to nowadays – guenther described it with “Got in, asked three questions to Gerardo Marin (the Evolution bugmaster) and immediately went offline again”.
Later on my workflow was to have a table and a textfile with bug numbers and required actions that I took with me to the university where I spend time on IRC and downloaded the latest testing rpm files to install on my home computer (I finally bought my first laptop *years* after that). I could not reproduce bugs directly at the university as their GNOME/Linux installation was ancient.

It’s only a few years ago but now all this somehow sounds strange to me – internet has become way more ubiquitious.
Same when I think about mobile phones and the society.

  • Fifteen years ago a phone number belonged to a place. Now it belongs to a person.
  • There were always a few friends that expected me to answer their calls to my mobile phone at any time because “that is the reason why people have a mobile phone”. Nope. Still me deciding.
  • From my experience more people are late to appointments because they now have the option to send a short message five minutes before. “Hi, won’t make it in time. Will be late”.
  • Young people plan less when and where to meet in the evening – you can spontaneously call somebody, ask where s/he is and if it’s good around there.

All in all it’s been an interesting ride and I’m looking forward to the next ten years of communication somewhere between good old email, SMS, IRC, IM (ICQ, MSN, Google Talk), Facebook, Twitter/Qaiku and blog comments plus a good indexing service that makes finding sent & received information easier with all those different communication channels around that I sometimes use…

3 Responses to “We’ve come a long way.”

  1. prometoys says:

    I had similar experience during my first steps…

    There was a report in the public youth radio about the internet. I read something in a free city magazine, too. The report was about a internet cafe. So I go to this cafe and payed without any clue what to do. It was a hip shop with clothes and CD selling, trendy young people, and I was a 16 years old greenhorn, without any interest in hip things… I went there few times and then bought a month card (I was allowed to use the computers for one month for 30DM or so). The most time I didn’t surfed, I just chat in the IRC. Once there was not a PC with Win95 free and I sit down on a computer with a “strange, ugly” system. I played a while with it and then complained I want a real PC (Windows). This system must be an early Linux, years later I recognized the penguin on the “Start”-Button and the “Eyes”-panel-applet. This was 1996/1997

    Two years later I bought my first modem and go online with one of this AOL-100h-Free-Internet-CDs which flood the (snail-)mailboxes these days. I tried to compete with a friend who as ISDN (64k, me 56k), who can download more songs from napster…

    In 2001 I shared with a friend a DSL. He had DSL and a Flatrate in his flat, I just ordered DSL and we shared the Flatrate and had a special phone-ringing-code (one time ringing: I will go online. two time ringing: No, I need the Internet now)

    Flatrates: I screw up my first phone contracts with up to my ears in debt, because of phoning hours with friends. My telephone behavior didn’t changed, but thanks to this flatrates and discount mobile providers…

  2. [...] old (like GNOME), and a lot of people wrote retrospectives about how things were 10 years ago (like Andre Klapper). I’ve been using computers since the early 90’s, and by the time I got Internet, [...]

  3. alt-232 says:

    Those were the days….