The First Time I Used the Internet

It was 1994. I was eight years old. And I was pretty sure this was going to change everything.

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My mother and I were in the basement of a low-slung brick building. This was the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the first place in town to get the internet.

My mom explained that you could type any question into the computer and get an answer. I hesitated, wondering, “What should I ask first?”

I typed in question after question, amazed as answers popped up like magic. Before I knew it, our hour was up and we emerged back into the light.

I was pretty sure this was going to be big.

All week, I wrote down question after question. I could hardly wait for Saturday, when we could go to the computer lab again.

About a year later, we found ourselves in a downtown office. Cables hung from the ceiling and boxes were half unpacked.

These were the offices of NorthNet, a new internet service provider. We were going to be one of their first customers.

I don’t know how we ever afforded it. But even back then, my mom must have seen that this was the future.

Soon, we were hearing the screech of the modem and interrogating Webcrawler at home.

By the late 90’s, my mom had switched to a new search engine called Copernic. Copernic aggregated results from a bunch of different search engines.

My mom began to notice that most of the best results were coming from a new search engine.

It was called Google. And it was just a few months old.

She wrote to them to tell them how great their results were. They responded with a care package full of Google swag: hats, shirts, you name it!

If only we had been accredited investors. We could’ve put a check in! 🙂

Those were great days on the early internet. The future seemed limitless and tech could only do good.

I didn’t know it then, but those hours in the computer lab would help form the rest of my life.

I worked in medical software after college. Later, I became an angel investor.

Today, I look for startups that can be as transformational as Google was.

They’re rare. But it only takes one.

Do you remember the first time you used the internet? What was it like?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

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Photos: Webcrawler in 1996


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