In the early ‘90’s, the world became fascinated by something called: “The Internet.” Some referred to it as the “World Wide Web.” Others called it: “The Information Superhighway.” Back then, everyone started going “cyber” insane with that crazy dial-up crackling noise – that would connect them to a web page – which, despite the name, had nothing to do with ducks.
How did early humans back in the ‘90’s look at this so-called dotcom boom? Let’s look at some vintage Internet commercials and TV spots and see how Americans were presented us with……..THE INTERNET!
1) The revolution of the Internet in 1993
In 1993, stories of this fabled Internet made the nightly news. For about $200 a year, 1993 people could log on and communicate across cultures and continents; even as far-reaching as Turkey and Greenland. Though back then, the webpages really sucked.
Around the same time, the Today Show also asked: What is the Internet, Anyway? In 1994, Bryant Gumbel was really confused by the whole phenomenon – let alone what the @ symbol meant.
2) 1995 AOL Commercial
Back in 1995, people were still confused by the Internet; in the same manner as Cro-Magnon man looked at fire for the very first time. It blew their Gen-Xers minds that not only could you use it as a tool to look up information about dinosaurs, but you could also be a resource to send flowers to your mom. But AOL wasn’t cheap; the startup disc provided 10 free hours – and after that it was $9.95 for 5 hours of online access; and then $2.95 an hour; though it did come with a really cool AOL email address.
3) CompuServe: First Internet Commercial
CompuServe was the first Internet provider to come out of the gates in 1989 to provide the power of your computer with the convenience of your telephone; to bring you literally 100’s of online services.
Things really got rolling for CompuServe in the 90’s. To compete with service provider AOL, the company charged $9.95 a month for basic services. However, access to forums would cost an additional $4.90 per hour; billed in one-minute increments.
4) 1990 Prodigy Commercial
Back in this utopian era – Prodigy promised you to get sports scores faster than on TV and stock quotes almost as fast as a broker. Again, the service offered literally 100’s of practical uses. All this for $9.95 a month for 5 hours of basic access; then $2.95 an hour.
5) The Internet in 1969
Back during the Summer of Love – imagineers had a pre-conceived version of the Internet; that wasn’t too far off base; with online shopping, home security cams, online banking. But for some reason, this version of the Internet required 4 monitors and some knobs and dials.
6) Expensive GEnie
GEnie was an Internet provider created by General Electric. At its height in 1994, Genie boasted a whopping 350,000 user. Genie was one of the most expensive online services; costing $8.95 a month for 4 hours of non-prime time access (before 8:00 am/after 6:00 pm, plus weekends and holidays). Then, it was $3 an hour – plus a surcharge for primetime online usage.
7) Early 90’s Kids Guide To The Internet
What was the good of all these really great dial-up service providers back in the early ‘90’s – if you didn’t know how to work the Internet? Thankfully, in 1994 there was an infomercial that taught people how to master the Internet. Back then you didn’t want to be left behind when it came to knowing more about Egyptian literature.
Kids would, apparently, keep up with the latest games, improve their grades and help their commination skills with this so-called Internet. And wasn’t just for boys either. Little did they know, in 2016 chatlines will be polluted with Catfish predators and porn will become a more popular search than learning about the Wright Brothers.
8) Hotmail and the 90’s
The advantage of Hotmail, as they trumpeted, was that it let you check your email from ANYWHERE!!!!! Yes, it allowed you to check your email from anywhere you wanted; a few examples given: work, school, etc. Hotmail accounts were free; but according to this 2002 message board, additional accounts were $20.
9) Tomorrow’s World: The Information Superhighway
In 1994, the American President Bill Clinton was on the Information Superhighway – and you could actually send him an “electronic message” because his computer was hooked up to a modem and a phone line. Sounds amazing! Though, this scenario would present a few problems a few years later with his wife Hillary.
10) What is…The Internet?
It was such an innocent time back in 1994 – where the Internet’s marvels centered around finding stories about WW2 bomber pilots who live alone and likes to swap war stories over his online service, along with having the ability to communicate with Europeans about travel tips. (And, strangely, not one mention of porn.) Modems used back then cost around $50-$300 – but look on the upside; many came with a free introductory subscription to one of the many online services.
Follow Harmon Leon on Twitter @HarmonLeon