The Internet has changed immensely from its humble beginnings in the 90s. Recently, millennials and boomers alike came together in an online discussion to reveal what they miss most about the early days of the Internet. After reading this, you'll be yearning to go back in time to the good old days!
1. Timelines That Weren't Algorithm-Driven
Back in the pioneer days of being online, users across social media platforms were only shown content from people they followed. So, if you only wanted to see posts from your friends, that's the only content you'd see. It contrasts present-day social media, where users are subject to endless scrollable content.
2. Lack of Advertisements
Believe it or not, the Internet was once a relatively tidy place without unobtrusive ads, pop-ups, or cookies tracking our every move. Fortunately, it took some time before advertising companies figured out how to monetize internet users. Still, millennials and boomers enjoyed a mostly ad-free internet for a few glorious years – and yes, it was every bit as glorious as it sounds.
3. The Exclusivity
One of the best things about the early days of the Internet was that it still felt exclusive. Many users remember feeling they were one of the “lucky ones” in society — the people who were the protectors of this new frontier.
Remember, in the beginning, a small minority used the Internet; it took decades to become intertwined in most people's lives.
4. Nothing Was Account-Locked
Today, finding a mainstream website that doesn't make you log into an account to access all of its features is nearly impossible. Many users remember fondly the days when this wasn't the case.
“You could browse most sites freely without an account at the beginning,” says one man. “For example, you could check out and pay through most e-commerce sites without an account. Some sites even let you interact outright without an account, like leaving comments on blog posts.”
5. The Excitement
There was a particular thrill during the early days of the Internet — it was genuinely unchartered waters. “The excitement of talking to people from around the world was real,” confesses one woman. “Now it's so normalized. I remember setting up my dial-up Internet, going into chat rooms, and being mind blown.”
6. The Slower Speeds
Since high-speed connections to the Internet were hard to come by in the 90s, users had to deal with slow browsing speeds. That was okay for most people, though — the agonizing time it took for a web page or image to load was a small price to pay for the ability to surf the web!
7. AOL Chat Rooms
Entering a room full of strangers in the real world can be stressful, but many people remember doing it easily in virtual AOL chat rooms. In the early days of the Internet, nearly everyone was anonymous in these rooms. As you can imagine, the chat topics ranged from polite conversation to downright bizarre back-and-forths!
8. Smaller, Hobby-Specific Message Boards
As the Internet grew, smaller, hobby-focused, enthusiast-based message boards dried up, replaced by more prominent corporate-backed blogs and forums. “The old forums that existed for all kinds of interests and hobbies is something I miss,” laments one hobbyist. “Especially because these forums had a few long-time users who seemed to always have been there, and a sense of community. They often had inside jokes and weird conventions that could be sort of fun and sort of alienating.”
9. Away Messages
Most instant-messaging platforms had an option for you to set an “away message,” which was the early-Internet equivalent of the “Be back soon” note on a barbershop door. Thanks to the always-on nature of the modern-day Internet, away messages have ceased to exist – but they'll always live on in our hearts.
1O. The Sense of Adventure
Most millennials and boomers remember the first time they ventured into the Internet alone – anything seemed possible! “There was so much stuff around to be discovered,” says one boomer. “Early internet was like the wild west.”
11. The Sound of a Dial-Up Modem
Don't get me wrong: Back in the 90s, nothing was more annoying than the screeching sound users were subjected to when we tried to log onto the Internet. However, most people admit they are nostalgic for that unforgettable sound, myself included. It was an annoying sound, but it signaled something genuinely revolutionary.
12. How You Had To Make Your Time on The Internet Count
Access to the Internet wasn't always unlimited like it is today (assuming you pay a monthly service fee). In the early days, users paid by the hour, giving the entire online experience a needlessly stressful and frenetic feeling. Every minute you spent cost you – or your parents – money, so you had to make every minute count!
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.