Monday, October 24, 2011

Remember the days of America Online (AOL)?

Remember the days of America Online (AOL)? I do.

I had a computer young like most nerds, but there were DOS programs and Windows 3.1. No Internet to start, just games like Hoyle, typing programs, etc. Best game was Quest for Glory by the way:



Then America Online came, oh boy the Internet. I was young, say 13 or so. There were web sites, chat rooms, instant messaging. There were internal areas on AOL for special interests. All great things, but I found my way to the dark side for a bit.

The chat rooms were private, people had short alias screen names (this is a bid deal, a 4 to 5 character screen name was awesome) and talked with a special vocabulary. PeOpLe TyPeD lIkE tHiS. You had to know someone that knew someone to find out where to meet. Accounts were hacked, the first round of phishing attempts were design, password crackers, dictionary data sets and visual basic was the language. Computers were so slow you could kick someone offline with a structured IM. Admin accounts were broken (over head accounts I think they were called) allowing special area access, user data access, unlimited scrolling. When done with the account you would leave your mark on the hacked user's profile.

I learned how to program before I ever took a class from a stranger. I had an alias. My account was closed several times due to violation of the terms of service (my mom and dad had to call to explain and have AOL reactivate). I had a web site with spinning animated gif skulls and flicking fire. I made my own graphics in Photoshop, Cool3D and Rhino3D (I assure you I paid for all this software). Remember the bevel and shadows? AltaVista was the search engine. All over a dial up connection. I remember when Juno came along and offered free dial up, this was awesome because it allowed an external connection to make password attempts more quickly on AOL connecting over an existing TCP/IP connection.

Then is all stopped. I had a family emergency that kept me from a computer for a few months. When I got back everything changed. My contacts were gone, the sites changes, and the usual chat rooms were no longer occupied. There was also a account login attempt limit in place, and computer's were faster so you couldn't freeze up a user via IM.

Then it was time for Napster and music and everyone else I knew was starting to get online. Turned into a medium to be friends with people you weren't friends with in real life. Say things to people you wouldn't say in real life. You listed your age/sex/location on entry to a chat room (that didn't fly in the evil private rooms). The web was social now.

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