Sunday, October 24, 2010

When Was the First Time You Used the Internet and the Cell Phone?

The very first time I accessed the Internet was in 1995. Obviously, I used a dial-up connection, which was excruciatingly slow. It never took less than 15 minutes to get connected and the connection had a tendency to get interrupted whenever somebody tried to make a phone call to my phone number. Or even the neighbors' phone number. (The way telephones in Ukraine worked was by connecting neighbors' phones with each other. Whenever you picked up the receiver, your neighbors' phone got disconnected and they couldn't make or receive phone calls.) The web offered very little content at that time. Still, I was really impressed that, while sitting in my apartment in Ukraine, I could have a conversation with people across the world. It felt like something magical. Every time when I was waiting for the dial-up to connect me, I kept wondering what it would feel like if the connections were faster and only took about 5 minutes or so. I also liked imagining what the web would look if anybody could place any kind of information they wanted there.

As for the cell phones, I resisted them for a very long time. The idea that people would be able to locate me at any given moment made me feel extremely uncomfortable. It also felt like such an incredible drag to have to figure out what all the buttons meant and how all the cell phone's functions worked. Finally, in 2000 I let my sister give me the most basic cell phone in existence as a gift. Today, if somebody were to deprive me of my Internet access and my BlackBerry for three days, I would start experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

What are you first memories of using the Internet and the cell phone?


Anonymous said...

I first used the internet in 1986 or so. It was much different then. No browsers, mostly universities. It was for a class project in the smart-people class. We used it to talk to another class in Sweden.

Most of the time in that era, I just used BBSes, which were much superior to the internet then.

The first time I saw a cell phone in person was around 1987. It was huge, and my grandfather (a traffic engineer) brought it home from work. I wasn't allowed to use it, as it cost like $3 a minute or something similarly insane.

I didn't have my own internet connection until 1995, though, that I paid for myself.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I just wanted to add that even today there really aren't any sites on the internet that really quite rival the depth and breadth of discussion and community that existed on the best BBSes in the 1980s. Not sure what to make of that.


Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! I had completely forgotten how opposed you were to cell phones! haha you were also afraid you would never figure it out!!! Until I finally took the risk and got you that dark blue one, which you had to accept instead of offending me. & then you got hooked!

the first time I saw a cell phone was in the beginning of the nineties when some people had those mobile phones that could only work in the vicinity of their cars or something of the sort

Clarissa said...

Thank you, sweetie. Now I know who'd to be blamed for the addiction. :-)

profacero said...

E-mail in 1995, dialup connection like you, similar experience including phone issue, this in New Orleans although I soon got a specially dedicated phone line for it which solved it. It was magical, yes.

E-mail had existed since the 80s but only for professors and my university didn't have it yet to my department when I got it at home ... they got it the next year ... true geeks would go to the computer center and e-mail before that but I wasn't one. The first time anyone got a computer good enough to put a web browser on it was around the same time and that was when I saw the Internet and I was amazed.

Cell phones, I have one but keep forgetting about it. First one I saw was really funny, in New Orleans, this guy on roller skates, skating around in a skating suit and helmet and ALSO talking on the phone, he looked like a person in a sci-fi film.

Steve Hayes said...

I got on to BBSs in 1988, and by 1990 they were gating some Usenet newsgroups, so i could say that that was when I started using the Internet. Our university startted doing it in a limited way in 1992, but in that period all international internet traffic to the rest of the world was gated via Fidonet and a single 9600 bps modem line between Grahamstown and Oregon - not a lot of bandwidth to play with.

Got my first cell phone in 2001 when I was asked to help a student get a visa to study in Kenya, and had to call the office at each step -- going back home to make a phone call, or looking of an unvandalised public phone wasted too much time, and convinced me that a cell phone would be better.

Pagan Topologist said...

I first used the internet via someone else's email account to submit an abstract for a conference talk in early 1986, if I recall correctly. I had forgotten about the abstract, and realized it was due too late to send it by mail. I did not get an email account myself until, I think, 1992, although most of my colleagues in my department had it in the late 1980's. I was stubborn and did not see the point of it.

I got a cellphone in 1996 when I was missing lunch dates with a friend who could not reach me when I was already on my way. She pleaded with me to get one. I kept the same analog cellphone for ten years: No text message capability and 30 minutes per month talking. If I went over that, it was, if I recall correctly, a dollar a minute.

I had to get a new phone in 2006, since I could not get a replacement battery for the old one, and it would only allow me to talk for about four or five minutes per charge and then required all night to recharge. I still have a pretty inexpensive plan which costs me less than $40/month. Roaming in Mexico is still ninety-nine cents a minute, though.

Lindsay said...

I don't remember the first time I used the Internet, but I do remember when I first got a cell phone.

It was in my last year of college, fall of 2005. I was living on my own in an apartment, and my mom found that a cell phone was cheaper than getting me a land line.

I have never liked cell phones, because of the expectation that you always carry it with you. I don't do that --- the idea of being constantly accessible by phone makes me tired. Talking on the phone is hard for me, so I don't like being ambushed by phone calls when I'm trying to do something else. So I leave my cell phone at home, and essentially treat it as a land line even though it's a cell phone.

Clarissa said...

"the idea of being constantly accessible by phone makes me tired. Talking on the phone is hard for me, so I don't like being ambushed by phone calls when I'm trying to do something else."

-I understand you 100%. I use the phone to read e-mails and moderate blog posts. Otherwise, the phone is permanently on mute, which everybody knows by now. So I only make calls if I feel like it. :-)