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Fri Dec 15, 2017, 01:17 PM

I remember the Internet back in the early 1990s. [View all]

Actually, even before that, in the late 1980s, when the place I worked installed a modem for me so that I could use "crawlers" to search for references from government and higher education databases accessible online. But in the early 90s, there were basically three "Online Providers" available in our area: Prodigy, CompuServ, and (a bit later) America Online.

Prodigy and CompuServ were similar in that they would, for a monthly fee, allow you to access email and other services. CompuServ offered a command line and more-or-less direct access, and Prodigy gave you a "Services" diskette that enabled a primitive content portal where you could subscribe to games, restaurant reviews and other stuff. I had direct access via work, so I subscribed to Prodigy for home/personal use, largely because back then it was a monthly flat-fee charge.

I don't remember much about it other than getting hooked into a couple of music message boards and text-based games. I found myself spending a fair amount of time on that stuff, probably 6-8 hours a week, arguing passionately about metal bands, the evolution of the blues, how to drive a permanent stake through the heart of disco, and how to add inline die-roll macros to various game elements.

Back then, IIRC, a one-month *P (as we called it) subscription was $7.95. At one point they added "premium" services that used a richer content interface and I think those were billed at an hourly rate with various access packages. So if you wanted to play 8-bit games online, or see websites with a lot of graphic content, or do certain kinds of online shopping, etc., you paid extra.

In about 1994, I think it was, I switched over to AOL, which at that time had a basic fee structure of $5.95 for a certain number of hours a month (might have been 10? not sure I remember correctly) and after that, a per-minute charge. You could also buy, for a larger monthly fee, more 'basic' hours and a slightly lower per-minute premium charge. I knew I was a heavy user so I opted for that, but even so, between then and 1996, I maxed out some credit cards and got into serious financial trouble.

So many people got into serious issues with those per-minute charges that it was a real issue. I knew people who (back then, in the 90s!) were seeing $400-500/month AOL charges on their credit cards. As soon as you could afford to, you upgraded your modem to the fastest available, so that your mail loaded faster, your chat hit the screen faster, you maximized those minutes as much as you could.

I learned to jump on, save to offline storage, jump off, read stuff, compose replies in text files, jump back on, cut and paste and send, in order to have the most time available for real-time chatting and game playing. I did all my searching at work, staying late to use their interface. Even so, personal access to the Internet got expensive. I was damn' glad when they went to the flat-fee structure in 1996. Shortly after that I discovered IRC and largely left AOL behind. A couple of years later, internal high-speed modems and local ISPs were offering browser-based access with almost everything I needed.

But I remember having to calculate every minute of use, every strategem to maximize access to the stuff I wanted while keeping costs down.

I guess it's a set of skills I'll find new uses for, now.

Thanks, Ajit Pai, you rancid pile of refuse.

disgustedly,
Bright

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Reply I remember the Internet back in the early 1990s. [View all]
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