Internet — January 1997

…and the Internet nostalgia continues. This is part II.

I’d landed at a site called WBS. Webchat Broadcast Server. Bear in mind I was totally clueless about everything internet related. I had to sign up! Was extremely hesitant because I had to state an email address and the only one I had was my work address. It was too tempting though, so I got brave and went through with the sign-up procedure. Got the confirmation right away and that was my life’s first email!

Now … I had to chose a user name for myself, or “handle”, as it was called. Typed in Hadassah. That was my cat’s name. Thought I was rather clever and was almost in disbelief when it said «user name is already taken»! Got some numbers after my name. Okay … that was alright. Then I had to fill in ‘gender’. I didn’t know what that word meant, so I had to run upstairs and get the dictionary! 🙂

When I was finished with all this, it was time for me to start working — this took place early in the morning — but I managed to get to the huge list of ‘chat rooms’… all countries you could ever dream of, age groups, special interest groups … and more.

I clicked on Ireland. There were not too many people there, but there were a few and they were all in the States. I said «Hello». Almost immediately several «Hello Hadassah!» appeared on my screen! I was extatic! They answered me!!!

Today I’m not sure about who they all were that very first time, but Angharod was there and Tipman. Went back downstairs at lunch — I was forever hooked! — but then only one person was there … in the ‘Irish Room’. This was strange because this person … I even remember the name … I never met again after this lunch. He was extremely kind and helpful … explained so many things to me about the workings of the chat. He was from Helena, MT.

Now I started to go to work really early in the morning … for two reasons: I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my newly won friends AND the earlier I was there, the more earlier it was in the States, needless to say. There was six hours time difference between Sweden and the east coast. I even went to my workplace on Saturday and Sunday mornings!

I noticed that most of the people there had little pictures beside their handles. I wanted one too! They were not necessarily pictures of themselves … one had a sunflower, for example. Started to ask around how to achieve this. Someone told me to find a picture and just copy the URL. I didn’t know how to find a picture, didn’t know what a URL was and even if I had known I wouldn’t have known how to copy it.

Somehow I managed to find a duck … my favorite bird … and got the URL in the right box. I never forget the feeling when it showed up on the screen! Here is the very duck! I’ve saved it for sentimental reasons 🙂 Imagine that! After all these years and many computers, I still have that bird!

This became a routine of mine and I quickly got to know these people in the WBS Irish Room. I wanted more time and I wanted to learn so much more. Read about something called Icq that many of them talked about. Didn’t really get what it was but it sounded like so much fun. Couldn’t download anything on my work computer though. To buy a computer to have at home was way beyond my financial limits at the time.

In order for this post to end, and not turn it into a novel, I’ll continue later … This whole thing changed my life forever so I want to write it down.


5 thoughts on “Internet — January 1997”

  1. I never did go to chat rooms. Once I just visited one but said nothing. And once I found a Swedish one but I knew no Swedish then.

  2. I’m enjoying following your “enlightenment” on the computer Rebekah! I remember ICQ from my early days on the computer – is it still around?

    1. Yes, it is … and believe it or not, I still remembered that long number! AOL bought it from the Israelis. Haven’t used it for ages..

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