Open Thread: The First Time Online

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We are the only generation that knew a time when the internet did not exist. Younger generations can’t even conceive of it.  For us, it was world-shaking that a phone line, a computer and a little CD like disc could open up the world to us.

My late husband was a programmer, so we were a bit ahead of the curve, but even Michael was blown away by our first time online in the early 90’s. Remember this sound?

When Michael and I first heard that noise, we realized the Internet was a wonderful world full of possibilities – for community, for information, for enlightenment. It was the herald of a Golden Age!

So what was our very first encounter with the internet?

A bulletin board about the Simpsons.

And for the next hour or so, we downloaded a collection of every catchphrase and punchline in the show.  And remember, this was before YouTube (GASP!) so all we had was page after page of “Eat my Shorts” and “Release the Hounds” printed on pink paper on our dot matrix printer. D’Oh!

That was my first contact with the Internet. What was the first thing you did or looked up online? Tell your story in the comments!

Need something to jog your memory? Here’s a collection of sounds familiar to those of us who were online pioneers  – you know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send  Open Thread suggestions to

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