Do you remember the first time you connected to the Internet? Where were you? What did it feel like?
For me, it was the summer of 1996. My mother had taken me to our small public library where I discovered that they would soon have a computer with an Internet connection and I couldn’t wait to get back to try it.
A week later I was practically the only person in the library but I still had to add my name to an empty sign-in sheet for just 15 minutes of time on the computer. With an eagerness that only a child can have I sat down and pretended to listen to what the librarian was telling me about “getting online”.
After she finally tottered away I was transfixed. Netscape Navigator was loaded and the modem rang out loudly, letting everyone know that a 15 year old Scott Carter had just become a man. The first site I loaded was Yahoo!, the most popular portal of the time. As you can see in the image to the right, it was quite different back then. I went through the different sections quickly; less interested in learning than simply exploring this vast, new world.
I already knew the basics of how to use the machine because we had recently purchased a Packard *gag* Bell, but this was different. I felt that the Internet was mine. I didn’t know anyone who understood this new technology which meant that I finally had the chance to become the expert in something. It worked like I expected it to, and I instantly felt at ease with it. No fear; just boundless curiosity.
My time went by quickly that day. I can’t remember what else I found online through the pitifully slow 14.4kbps modem connection or when I went back to the library to explore again, but I know I went back as soon as I could. A long time went by before I finally convinced my parents to let me bring the Internet into our home, which effectively ended any curiosity I had for what other people my age were doing in the real world. From then on I was to spend significantly more time in front of a screen than in front of real people. For better or worse, the Internet transformed my life.