The diary of an AOL user is a must read for those of you of a certain age who remember the trials and tribulations of trying to get onto the internet in it’s early days.
It’s also a really good insight for those of you who are too young to remember the horrible screaching of a modem as it connected, or the screams of frustration when you got disconnected and lost everything that you had been doing for the last hour.
We really aren’t going back that far in time, although thinking about it now, this was the mid to late 90’s. Has it really been 30 years since most of us started to use the internet? Now that really does make me feel old!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane and present to you…
The Diary of an AOL User
I just tried to connect to America Online. I’ve heard it is the best online service I can get. They even included a free CD! I’d better hold onto it in case they don’t ever send me anther one! I can’t connect. I don’t know what is wrong.
Some guy at the tech support center says my computer needs a modem. I don’t see why. He’s just trying to cheat me. How dumb does he think I am?
I bought the modem. I couldn’t figure out where it goes. It wouldn’t fit in the monitor or the printer. I’m confused.
I finally got the modem in and hooked up. The nine year old kid next door did it for me. But it still don’t work. I can’t get online.
That nine year old kid next door hooked me up to America Online. He’s so smart. I told the kid he was a prodigy. But he says that’s just another service. What a modest kid.
He’s so smart and he does these services for people. Anyway he’s smarter then the jerks who sold me the modem. They didn’t even tell me about communications software. Bet they didn’t know. And why do they put two telephone jack holes in the back of a modem when you only need one? And why do they have one labeled phone when you are not suppose to hook it to the phone jack on the wall? I thought the dial tone sounded funny! Boy, are modem makers dumb! But the kid figured it out by the sound.
What’s the internet? I thought I was on America Online. Not this internet thing. I’m confused.
The nine year old kid next door showed me how to use this America Online stuff. I told him he must be a genius. He says that he is compared to me. Maybe he’s not so modest after all.
I tried to use chat today. I tried to talk into my computer but nothing happened. Maybe I need to buy a microphone.
I found this thing called usenet. I got out of it because I’m connected to America Online not usenet.
These people in this usenet thing keep using capital letters. How do they do that? I never figured out how to type capital letters. Maybe they have a different type of keyboard.
I CALLED THE COMPUTER MAKER I BOUGHT IT FROM TO COMPLAIN ABOUT NOT HAVING A CAPITAL LETTER KEY. THE TECH SUPPORT GUY SAID IT WAS THIS CAPS LOCK KEY. WHY DIDN’T THEY SPELL IT OUT? I TOLD HIM I GOT A CHEAP KEYBOARD AND WANTED A BETTER ONE. AND ONE OF MY SHIFT KEYS ISNT THE SAME SIZE AS THE OTHER. HE SAID THATS A STANDARD. I TOLD HIM I DIDN’T WANT A STANDARD KEYBOARD BUT ANOTHER BRAND. I MUST HAVE HAD AN IMPORTANT COMPLAINT BECAUSE I HEARD HIM TELL THE OTHER SUPPORT GUYS TO LISTEN IN ON OUR CONVERSATION.
I FOUND THIS THING CALLED THE USENET ORACLE. IT SAYS THAT IT CAN ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS I ASK IT. I SENT IT 44 SEPARATE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INTERNET. I HOPE IT RESPONDS SOON.
I FOUND A GROUP CALLED REC.HUMOR. I DECIDED TO POST THIS JOKE ABOUT THE CHICKEN THAT CROSSED THE ROAD. TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE! HA! HA! I WASNT SURE I POSTED IT RIGHT SO I POSTED IT 56 MORE TIMES.
I KEEP HEARING ABOUT THE WORLD WIDE WEB. I DON’T NOW SPIDERS GREW THAT LARGE.
THE ORACLE RESPONDED TO MY QUESTIONS TODAY. GEEZ IT WAS RUDE. I WAS SO ANGRY THAT I POSTED AN ANGRY MESSAGE ABOUT IT TO REC.HUMOR.ORACLE. I WASNT SURE IF I POSTED RIGHT SO I POSTED IT 22 MORE TIMES.
SOMEONE TOLD ME TO READ THE FAQ. GEEZ THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO USE PROFANITY.
SOMEONE ELSE TOLD ME TO STOP SHOUTING IN ALL MY MESSAGES. WHAT A STUPID JERK. IM NOT SHOUTING! IM NOT EVEN TALKING! JUST TYPING! HOW CAN THEY LET THESE RUDE JERKS GO ON THE INTERNET?
Why have a Caps Lock key if you’re not suppose to use it? It’s probably an extra feature that costs more money.
I just read this post called make money fast. I’m so excited. I’m going to make lots of money. I followed his instructions and posted it to every newsgroup I could find.
I just made my signature file. Its only 6 pages long. I will have to work on it some more.
I just looked at a group called alt.aol.sucks. I read a few posts and I really believe that aol should be wiped off the face of the earth. I wonder what an aol is.
I was asking where to find some information about something. Some guy told me to check out ftp.netcom.com. I’ve looked and looked but I can’t find that group.
I sent a post to every usenet group on the Internet asking where the ftp.netcom.com is. Hopefully someone will help. I can’t ask the kid next door. His parents said that when he comes back from my house he’s laughing so hard he can’t eat or sleep or do his homework. So they wont let him come over anymore.
I do have a great sense of humor. I don’t know why the rec.humor group didn’t like my chicken joke. Maybe they only like dirty stuff. Some people sent me posts about my 56 posts of the joke and they used bad words.
I sent another post to every usenet group on the Internet asking where the ftp.netcom.com is.
I had forgot yesterday to include my new signature file which is only 8 pages long. I know everyone will want to read my favorite poem so I included it. I’m also going to add that short story I like.
Some guy suspended my account because of what I was doing. I told him I don’t have an account at his bank. He’s so dumb.
I hope that brings back some memories for you and no doubt some recollections of the many frustrations you might have had as well.
Sadly there are still a lot of people who struggle to use a computer and to do anything on the internet and it’s a lot simpler these days, trust me. I know several people who still open their browser and call it “Google” because that’s what their home page is set to. THey have no concept of what a browser is, they just know to open “Google”. Sigh…
It brings back memories of the software that many of us used back in the 90’s. AOL was one of the earliest integrated platforms that had a graphical interface and included it’s own browser. It took a while even for me to get my head around using another browser, even though I had already worked in IT for 15 years.
One of the worst things I found was that if your internet connection dropped, whatever you were doing in your built in browser window would be erased. I soon learned to conect to AOL and then open Internet Explorer, so if my AOL connection dropped, I just had to sign in again and then switch to my IE browser window and my content would still be there.
And the terminology, like the software that we used. Prodigy (similar to AOL), Usenet, the original forums and message/support groups. And FTP too. That hasn’t changed much, it’s still mostly the same commands under the covers, but usually used with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) these days, you rarely have to type and commands manually. And it’s almost always just used by us techies in IT, not by regular internet users.
Those old Usenet groups were a valuable source of information in the days before search engines like Google and all the forums and web sites that sprung up, dedicated to documenting just about everything there is to document and then some. Rather than having to ask someone you knew or at a software provider, you could just find a Usenet group and there would be at least one expert somewhere in the world who would know the answer to every question you needed to ask.
Things have come a long way, speed for a start. It was amazing having a 56k modem, which meant I could download a 1MB AOL upgrade in an hour. Now I can download 1MB in a couple of seconds!
No need to connect your computer to a modem and dial up when you want to connect to the internet. We have WiFi and you can connect from practically anywhere, even streaming movies in HD.
It’s hard to explain to the younger folks today just how limited memory was as well. Those hard plastic 3 1/2″ floppy disks we used to usa that each held 1.4MB of data. Now a single digital photo taken on your phone is 3-4MB. So if you go on vacation and take 500 photos on your phone and then wanted to back them up to floppies, that would require 1,500 floppies and take about a week! It doesn’t bear thinking about. Technology sure has come a long way!
Some things haven’t changed though. It’s still the nine year olf kid from next door, or maybe now your child or even grandchild that you need to show you how things work. Damn it makes me feel old!
I’m sure you must have some technology stories from back in the day. We would love to hear about them. Please do leave us a comment, there is a form further down this page.
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