Originally Posted by hellosailor
And where exactly did who get public access to the internet
BEFORE the early 90s?<G> Heck, in '95 you still had to BUY NetScape, and most businesses were saying "A web site? And what do you do with that?"
This turned out to be a little longer than I expected, it's written now, so here's a bit of history
In the 1970's, most computer networks were private systems for a particular organization. By the early 1980's, many networks appeared that would establish the foundations for the internet that we have today. There was not a lot of "public access", but there were a lot of people using the networks.
USENET was a loosely organized network that passed messages from machine to machine. To join USENET, all you needed to do was find somebody on USENET who was willing to pass messages for you. (In 1987 or so, UUNET was created to provide USENET access to anybody for a fee.) In the beginning, this was usually by dial-up modem
from one machine to the next. The principal applications were email
and netnews. Netnews is a distributed discussion group. A web forum is kind of like netnews, though there are features in netnews that I have never seen in any web forum.
It was polite to keep messages short because your message might be transferred over several long-distance phone
calls, depending where it was going. In 1987 or so, UUNET was created to provide USENET access to anybody.
I used USENET when I was in school
. Later, I had USENET via dialup in my house sometime in the late 1980's, then again through UUNET in the early 1990s. I eventually dropped it when I got a job that required high speed internet in my house in 1997.
BITNET was a worldwide network of research
organizations. It was based on IBM networking protocols and it seems to me that most connected machines were IBM mainframes.
ARPANET was a research project
of the US military, so you had to be connected to the military, a contractor, or a university to get access. ARPANET got a major upgrade to use new protocols on January 1, 1983, and we are still using those protocols as the basis of the internet. As other IP networks were created, they arranged to pass traffic to each other. "The Internet" is the set of all those networks.
PHONENET was a dial-up network created for universities that did not qualify for direct access to the ARPANET, but who still wanted email
. PHONENET was designed from the beginning to pass messages transparently with ARPANET.
FIDONET was a computer bulletin board system (BBS). You would call a local FIDONET machine to pose messages for other users. Messages that were going to some other machine were passed to other FIDONET machines over phone
lines. Where USENET was usually a feature added on to a multi-user computer, FIDONET was the kind of thing that somebody would dedicate a PC to and run in their basement as a hobby.
Otherwise, there were several commercial
services that were intended primarily as closed systems, but that could pass messages to other networks. These include AOL, Prodigy, GEnie, and Compuserve.
People created various hacks to pass messages between the different networks, so eventually it was possible to pass messages from any of these networks to any other network. Between all these networks, the online community was quite substantial through the 1980s, though only a tiny fraction of what we have today.
So, say it's 1989 and you want net access. Your choices are finding somebody who will give you a USENET feed (i.e. anybody who already has one), buying
a feed from UUNET, using a FIDONET node, using one of the commercial
services, or getting a job someplace that has net access. None of it offers anything like a web browser because it has not been invented yet, but you have email and distributed discussion groups.
Those were the good old days when we had to walk 10 miles to school
in snow 8 feet deep and it was uphill both ways, but it had it's up side. Spam (the electronic kind, not the food) was not invented until 1994...