A thing they seem to be skipping out on is the BBS; which was actually coded up by a couple guys in Chicago when a snowstorm basically shut the city down and they were bored so decided ‘hey let’s hook up the computer club’s phone line up to a computer.’ One of these guys was actually involved in ARPAnet in a very tangential manner and so had some experience in connecting computers together that didn’t nessicarily share operating system standards (CPM being the dominant OS at the time.) It is my personal feeling that the BBS would still happen, as it was a very ‘bottom-up’ affair that sorta grew into its own thing with no real connection to ARPA, NSFnet, or anything the government was doing. BBS’s ended up spawning FIDOnet, which allowed BBBS’s to exchange information between each other and os you could get messages from one en of the country (and eventually the world) to the other with no user NEEDING to pay anything (though often times indavidual region nodes would try raising money for operational costs.)
Your track is of a world where there was no networking outside of the government sector. I would like to see you do an alternate history where the BBS continued to hold sway.
I recommend looking at Jason Scott’s BBS Documentary, it’s free and has a lot of first-hand knowledge.
As for where I would be? probably emotionally dead inside because I’d be in a place I hate with no support structure telling me that ‘ok fine you’re weird compared to everyone around you, but that’s OK! You are not alone.’ Employment rates for disabled people were even worse pre-internet since the internet allows you to get around the whole ‘can’t easily drive from place to place’ issue to an extent. Without that kind of support structure I’d either be a completely different person, or dead, and since even before I knew of the internet I was not really like the people I live around…
tempted to do a blog write-up to see what I can prod my brainmeats and limited research skills into, since unlike most of what Codey discusses I actually sorta kinda know the history on this one and lived in the period in the ‘before this was a common thing’ and ‘after everyone grew dependant on it’ to have distinct memories I can form an opinionated guess of what things might be like.