90s, Computers, Quick Lists — October 17, 2012 4:57 pm

7 Relics from the Dial-Up Days

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Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwweheheheheeeee HOOOO HOCK CHIIIIIIIIIIIII dododododododod HOOOO HOCK CHIIIIIIIIIIIII dododododododod eeeeeee– WELCOME.”

Every time you wanted to check the local movie show times and your dad had already thrown away the newspaper, you had to suffer through a horrifying screech to sign on AOL.  Twenty minutes later, you finally accessed the information you desired and realized you had missed the movie because your computer only had a 14.4k modem.

It was the 90s and we all suffered through these seven relics from dial-up days.

7 – Web TV

It has the coveted “picture in picture” feature.

When Web TV came out, “real” computer users scoffed at the idea of browsing the Internet on a TV.  Nowadays, the tech savvy and grandmas alike stream content to their living room idiot box with ease.  Perhaps, Web TV was just a little too far ahead of its time.

6 – Netcom

This was my life for six months.

After being outraged that the AOL bill had risen to $22/month, my family decided to switch to a different Internet Service Provider.  If you’ve heard of Netcom, you must be one of the three other people who used the service.  The built in web browser made the background of every website gray and images usually didn’t work that great.  There was also no built-in chat feature, so I felt very alone in the vast universe of the world wide web.  After a few months of bleak and depressing web surfing, we switched back to AOL (which had jumped to an even more outrageous $24/month).

5 – Juno E-Mail

Is it an eyeball shooting a laser or a book that won’t close?

Are you still receiving funny cat pictures and e-mail chains from your aging Aunt Arlene?  Chances are, she’s still using a Juno e-mail address.  Juno’s claim to fame was offering email addresses to all users… absolutely free!!!  Can you believe that was once something to brag about now that you have forty Gmail accounts?

4 – Prodigy

Prodigy Users: Missing Since 1995

What was the deal with Prodigy?  You heard about it.  It was mentioned on the news.  There were novelty songs about Prodigy.  Statistics claimed it was a really popular web service.  The CDs were included with every magazine, but did you actually know anyone who used it?  For a company that claimed to be the first ISP, they were apparently a little behind the times when Y2K hit.  That was pretty much the last anyone heard of them.  I’d give you more information, but the Wikipedia article for Prodigy is pretty confusing.

3 – NetZero

Is this commercial a self-aware parody?

Not a company to be outdone by Juno’s free e-mail accounts, Net Zero offered the entire Internet for free.  All of it!  Like Juno, maybe this one isn’t so impressive now that you snag a Wi-Fi signal from your neighbors.

2 – AOL CDs

The plastic circle that started it all.

CDs.  Millions of them.  Lots and lots of piles of CDs stacked everywhere.  Imagine a universe built entirely out of AOL giveaway CDs.  I’m sure it’s out there.  You couldn’t run away from AOL CDs for almost a decade.  Even if you were already a subscriber, you somehow ended up with more CDs.  Poking around on AOL, I once found an area to request old versions of the program be shipped to you.  I placed an order for AOL 1.0 for DOS.  Nightmare.

1 – Netscape Navigator

I always felt like a sea captain using Netscape Navigator.  Firefox doesn’t deliver the same thrill.

What happened to Netscape?  For years, it was the ultimate web browser.  Internet Explorer was created to directly compete with the Navigator.  Eventually, AOL bought the browser and decided to cancel development for it in 2007.  Rumor has it, you can still download Netscape… but, uh… why would you want to?

Did we miss some of your favorite relics from the dial-up days?  Tell us about it in the comments below!


  • Hah! I was just talking about the Netscape Navigator with my friend a while back. I used to love it for whatever reason.. Maybe it was the awesome 2 color .gif splash screen and teal color palette.AOL was both terrible and great to me, having made many friends across the US through its chatrooms back in the late 90’s. Everything else about it was terrible and it’s strange to think back to all their features that were basically early forms of spyware build into the browser. And oh, those CDs! They were everywhere and free. My best friend and I used to grab a bunch and take them home to cut them into shuriken that we’d throw around the room. There was a time he took so many he pasted them all over the back of his bedroom door into a type of mirror.WebTV, from what I could gather, was hideous. I never personally used it, but I had a close friend who would stay at her dads on the weekend and all he had was WebTV. She couldn’t do anything but e-mail me through it, as she said the browsing was slow as hell. I agree it was ahead of its time in some way, but like everything else that was head of its time, the execution was poor due to early technology.Of course I’d heard of Prodigy but never knew exactly what it was.Why did everything back then belong to a Webring and have a mailing list that was hardly ever updated?Pretty good list, but I don’t know a few of these.

  • I had paragraphs but I see they were taken from me. Oh well. Have fun trying to read that jumble below.

  • For a period of several weeks back in late 2000 early 2001 my friends in AZ collected massive stacks of AOL CDs. When I came back to visit after I moved to TX we went to one of their houses that was in a neighborhood that was still being developed. Across the street from his house were vacant lots where houses hadn’t been started yet. We all (4-5 of us) each took a stack of AOL CDs and had a massive AOL CD fight. Imagine a snowball fight, but with AOL CDs being frisbeed at you at high speeds. I don’t recommend it, but it was a lot of fun and miraculously no one was seriously injured. That was the best use I’ve ever seen anyone make of those CDs.

    • WallCrawlinHero That’s possibly the best use for those CDs that I’ve ever heard of! I’ve done that with trading cards before, but not CDs. You are hardcore!

  • I remember dial-up and modems and more.  The first electrical, cross-country datacom was Morse Code but the Teletype Corporation perfected telephone modems during the Bell System’s 100 year reign.  I maintained computers for the USAF in the ’60s and distributed modems for the phone phactory in the ’80s.  OK!  So I’m older’n dirt but I remember when words like “Baud” meant something.  In the early ’90s I could have purchased a 2-digit .com for $8 bux a year (foolish me).  Netscape was cool then.  AOL wasn’t.

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