WATCH: 1995 guide to using the Internet


I remember the transitional days when more people started to move from AOL/Compuserve/etc. to the internet. It was a very odd experience. So many people feared going out into the internet like they’d all been living underground in Logan’s Run arcologies.

“How will I know where to go for what I want? There aren’t any keywords!”

This same phenomenon seems to be what’s holding us back from distributed social networking. Grandma didn’t want to move from AOL to the wild wild web then and she doesn’t want to move from Facebook to something new and different now. Well, that and the challenge of DIY social networking privacy.


Was it not possible to change the background colour on a webpage in 1995? So much grey.

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Yes, it was possible to set background colors, fonts, etc., but in 1995, many people still believed in the original SGML/HTML principle that display details were the reader’s choice, not the author’s, and while the reader might be using a full-featured browser on a high-resolution 16-bit-color display, they might also be using lynx over an xterm, or some handheld LCD screen or text-to-speech reader, or might have set their preferences for green monospaced text on black background or dark blue on sky blue or black on white, so leaving the background color set to “default” was fine, and depending on it looking to the reader the way it looked on the author’s screen was just silly.


At 4:30 he says that the Mosaic Browser was developed in 1933.
Reading out a typo or smudge.

Old people pecking on screens? By 1995, my parents were on their second Macintosh (though they kept the first one around for applications that never did work on System 7), and my mother had long since switched over to writing her civic association newsletters on it, because she could do two-column right-justified text automatically instead of by hand on her manual typewriter (What? It’s not hard, you just type it once, count the letters, and type it again.)

In my generation, almost all the girls had learned how to type, and most of the boys who went to college could at least hunt and peck by the time they finished high school, though there were a few years of my working life where some of the department heads still had always had secretaries to do typing for them and lower-level managers had access to a typing pool so hadn’t learned to type for themselves. (And feminism meant that lots of women who had been able to type perfectly well in college and on keypunches somehow temporarily had no idea how to use an actual typewriter or coffee machine, though those skills eventually reappeared as workplaces became less chauvinistic.)

A friend of mine, Hugh Daniel, taught me to touch-type on computers in the mid-80s by saying “Look, your fingers know where all the keys are, so stop looking at them, only look at the screen, and backspace if you need to.” I’d still need to look at keyboard layouts when I switched machines, because they weren’t all identical, especially where the delete key was, but it was enough to get over a decade or more of bad typing habits pretty fast.

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The basic feature support was really a patchwork in every browser back then. In 1995 for graphical browsers you had the choice of Netscape 1.0 and NCSA Mosaic. One supported tables, the other supported background images. Text mode browsers were still in heavy use back then as well, and supported neither.

It wasn’t until the Netscape 2.0 betas late in the year that you could really ditch Mosaic, unless of course you were on a platform that didn’t get Netscape or were one of the few people who cared that it was technically commercial software and everybody else was just pirating it openly.

Of course Netscape 2.0 also introduced the dreaded Frames and Javascript.


Interesting. I missed almost all of the '90s technology wise, only got a computer in '98 and got on the Internet in '99.

Just look around you!


You missed out. 1995 was an exciting year for the Web and the internet in general. That was the year the Internet really exploded into public consciousness and URLs started appearing everywhere. Netscape 2.0 was basically the first modern browser and even more importantly they put up what is still the best organized and well written developers support site I have ever seen. One could hit up their developer site and in a few hours have a modern (for 1995/1996) website that looked good. Try going to the W3C’s reference for XHTML+CSS as a totally new user and see how far you get. It also helped that HTML was a pretty simple and straightforward language back then.

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I wish I could have been there. I made up for it when we did get Internet access at home and generated a £200 phone bill :open_mouth: My dad was not happy.


Wasn’t there some HTML software package punningly called ‘Hot Metal’?

⇒watching a videotape to learn about the internet

akin to reading a book on how to dance the tango. we could see the future, but dial-up speeds could not into streaming video

It wasn’t until '97 or so that I recall seeing the first large companies putting their website on TV ads. A lot of them were printed like “” at that time; I don’t remember at what points they dropped the http and then the www bits.

I like the old-school Yahoo scenes at 8:30.

Yeah, came here to say this… wth. Was the guy even thinking about what he was reading?

I don’t know why, but this video very well might be the most painful thing I’ve ever seen out on the vast filthbucket that is the world wide web. Perhaps it’s because the contrast is very close to zero, perhaps it’s the constant mic hum. But I think it’s just the pure naivete the announcer spoke with when he assured that the web could be filtered to prohibit children (or anyone) from seeing “unwanted content”.

That’s one of the purest charms of the web. Going out there, someone shares a link with you somewhere, and it turns out to be a livestream of someone doing something more horrific than a thousand goatses combined in equal portion with two girls one cup. And you smile, and think: This actually exists. There are people who think it’s important that anyone can see them doing this. They think the world needs to know about it.


Hah. I gave that a go. And gave up. Turned me off to HTML for nearly a decade.

I’d like to wax nostalgic about all this, but it gives me the same head-shaking sense of embarrassment as looking at how we all dressed and socialized in the 70’s. Some things really should be ignored and forgotten…

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I was kind of thinking that that was the point at which the video would warp and the sound distort and we’d be in some parallel Philadelphia Experiment universe training video from Lost. I was disappointed that it continued more or less normally.


Stealing this. KTHX.

Oh, how I don’t miss all the “best viewed in Netscape version X” and “click here for the internet explorer version” issues.

I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with that kind of…oh, wait.

<video width=“320” height=“240” controls>
<source src=“movie.mp4” type=“video/mp4”>
<source src=“movie.ogg” type=“video/ogg”>
Your browser does not support the video tag.

div {
-webkit-border-image: url(border.png) 30 30 round; /* Safari 3.1-5 /
-o-border-image: url(border.png) 30 30 round; /
Opera 11-12.1 */
border-image: url(border.png) 30 30 round;


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