People who were around before the Internet, what did you initially think about it? How did you get used to it?

I am 38 and have been a computer geek since my first computer, an Apple IIe. I grew up with the internet and its predecessors in Hong Kong during the glory days of Sham Shui Po. The Apple IIe would become the last Apple/Mac I would ever own (excepting my iPhones and iPads); the first PC I built was a 486/66 and I have built every one of them since (I estimate 8 complete builds).

I ran a Bulletin Board System in early 1990s Hong Kong on a 14.4K modem using my parents' second phone line. It hosted a really cool text graphics Risk game where people would jam up the line trying to be the first to call in after midnight so they would have initiative. I would use the school's BBS that connected students from various English language schools around the city. Mostly, we would try to pick up the few girls who'd login.

Throughout the early 90s, a bunch of us would play Doom in the computer lab after school on the LAN (the network was only within the computer lab) while we were ostensibly practicing our Turbo Pascal skills. By the time I graduated high school in 1995, the internet was just getting started. I was among one of the pioneers in my university to install broadband (we had to rent the PCI cards from the school).

I spent my early days in college on IRC chatting up girls(?) and listening to an online stream of a smooth jazz radio station pretty much every night until early morning. I used Alta Vista as my web search and never owned AOL (except for when I got my hands on the free minutes discs that were quite valuable back then). Even by the time I was in college, broadband was extremely rare and I dominated whatever Quake game I joined. It would be the last time I would have an advantage in any FPS.

The early days of the internet were very ugly, and not just the user interface. Maybe I visit sites that are tamer these days, but I felt like there were a lot more creepers per capita of internet users. Whole boards and chat channels/servers were dedicated to the ugliest and most illegal side of porn. I remember needing a lot more eye bleach in those days. Maybe because sometimes the written word can be a lot more potent than an offensive picture, but things seem far safer now in general.

The biggest differences are those that newer generations will never fully understand: longhand; Dewey Decimal; library/book-only research; Yellow Pages; 35mm film; maps and atlases; encyclopedias and subscriptions to them; 411, and et cetera ad nauseum. In my mind, the internet is humanity's biggest single advancement that I have personally taken part in. For that I'm proud, even knowing that I am just one of many hundreds of millions who did it with me.

/r/AskReddit Thread