Internet 1997 ~ At Home!

Rockwood Park today

As I wrote in previous post on this subject; to buy a computer of my own was out of reach. I continued my early morning chats, plus the weekends. It’s hard to imagine now, that I actually walked to my work place early Saturday or Sunday mornings [or both] to go online. Because of the time difference I had to be there rather early. 7AM meant 1AM EST so basically I met the ones on PST. The ones on the east coast had gone to bed.

It was still 1997 — May, I think — when my work place finally decided that they needed to upgrade the computers. All the new ones arrived with Win95 on them, and I could take one of the old ones home!!! Yay!  The same afternoon as I had it in my apartment, I went down to Telia — the major phone/internet provider in Sweden — to buy a, what they called, Internet package. That was an easy procedure, until I saw that the installation files were on a CD. My computer didn’t have a CD drive … only floppy. Went back to Telia … they were still open … and told them I needed to change to floppies. No dice! Had to wait almost a week for them to arrive. Those were long days, I tell you!

Wigeon today

Finally they arrived, I had taken some time off, so I had a few days to play with this. Got hooked up in no time and the feeling was unbelievable! I could surf, drink coffee and smoke — all at the same time! In my own home! Got an email address with Telia. It was really long and cumbersome — it was like they told you exactly how it should be formatted: firstname.lastname @ nameofcity.telia . se  Shortly afterwards they changed so that you could make up a shorter one.

One of the first things I did was installing Icq. That download took about an hour. I had dial-up and paid per minute! Don’t remember seeing any progress bar — just those files flying from the earth to a folder … endlessly, and every minute meant more money for Telia. I became one of their best customer 🙂 — they gave me a free, cordless phone one year and a caller-ID.

If my memory serves me right, I think I’d been clever enough to install Netscape before I took it home. My favorite hang-out, WBS, didn’t work very well with Internet Explorer, but with Netscape it scrolled automatically. We had an IT-guy at work, who I think, installed it for me. He suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome — so he stated publicly — he was really … anti-social, to put it mildly, but somehow I got along with him.

To keep this on track, and not get totally lost down memory lane … the first nights I stayed up really late! Even chatted with random people on Icq, but WBS was my main place. I had many, new friends now! Apart from Angharod and Tipman that I mentioned in previous post, there was now also Liam Seamroige, Cemoor, LadyB45, Stargazer, Ivan, LadyHawk, Glenstal, MikieinGA, BostonBelle, Jace, Fleurkat … oh my, the list could go on and on… The first six people here are actually on Facebook now, seven if I include myself.

Liam Seamroige is now my hubby! How about that?! 🙂 That’s a whole different story — there’s lots more to come!

I put in a couple of pictures, just to break it up a little 🙂


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.

Internet ~ December 1996

My first internet search was «santa». We had just been hooked up to the Internet at work. We were all clueless. A co-worker and I decided to try it. We saw an icon that said “Internet Explorer”, so we figured that must be it.

We were taken to the search engine Alta Vista … a box that said «SEARCH», so, as it was just before Christmas I typed in Santa. The first hit was some huge, animated Santa and we were in total awe!

That’s how I started my internet experience … at work, on our lunch break. The computer was a .386 and the only one that was hooked up, was placed in a conference room in the basement. The operating system was Windows 3.something … Here’s a reminder in case you’ve forgotten what it looked like: LINK

This doesn’t sound like much, but I was sort of hooked anyway. I’d heard the word ‘chat’ being mentioned with regards to the Internet, but I didn’t know how it was done or how to get a hold of it.

During the holidays that year, I read an article about chatting in one of the Swedish evening papers, and they even gave a link — I didn’t know it was a link then — to a Swedish chat server. I carefully jotted it down … made really sure that I got the http:// right.

As soon as I was back at work, I tried it! One thing I also remember about all this is how carefully I typed — like I was afraid of destroying the damned thing.. I don’t know. Either way, I was taken to a Swedish chat and there were lots of people in there, maybe because it was lunch. You could even see at which company they were … it said the company name beside their handles, Alfa Laval, Atlas Copco, ABB and so on…

I guess I said “hallå”. They were friendly enough and I wanted to know how to get in touch with people in other countries as I figured I saw enough Swedes in my daily life. One guy answered «look at the links to your left». Well … as I still didn’t know what a link was, I had that explained to me also, and then I bravely clicked on ‘foreign links’ [or some such in Swedish].

Landed at WBS … Worldchat Broadcasting System, but that will be another post…