My experience of the internet

January 24, 2023

The start

When I was 5 years old, we got our first PC. The year was 2000, and I remember switching it on and just being mesmerized. Those days, there was not much to do on a computer. You could play some in-built games, but how would you do anything more? There was no way to get data in; there was no connection to the outside world.

The CD stores & the computer magazines

There are 2 ways that I got data into the machine pre-internet

  1. CD stores which would rent out cheap copies of movies
  2. Magazines like Digit and Chip (which came with a free CD full of software!)

I first found computer magazines at a railway station, and I remember being instantly hooked. At that time, the content seemed very high-quality, and they would even teach code stuff sometimes. But the best part was the CD that came along with it. I remember spending hours organizing my software collection manually, the CDs would have a lot of updates to existing software, as well as new stuff. I created my own categories and meticulously maintained the folders

Thoughts - how things have evolved

Pre-internet, I remember the Digit & Chip magazines which would come with CDs. I would sort through software manually and create folders in my PC.

My first PC was year 2000, when I was just 5. A 128mb RAM, Intel Pentium machine, which was a huge luxury in those days. It cost a total of 30,000 INR, and it was the most fascinating thing for me. I remember the day we got it, and turning it on for the first time. It used to run Windows 98 (eventually XP). This would be the machine where I'd play my first game of Solitare, Prince, & even GTA2 and AOE2. This would also be the machine which would take me online first, where I would venture into the world of Yahoo, Limewire, Gaia Online, Orkut & the likes.

I joined the internet in 2004, when I was just around 9 years old. Those were the days of Pentium PCs and dial-up modems, where I could only be online for a few hours every day (it was super expensive). My parents didn't really understand my obsession, but they supported it nonetheless. Over time this progressed to broadband (2006-07), a 2mbps connection, which was like a luxury back then. I remember trips to the BSNL (government phone company) offices, and the going into a 'meeting' in order to get a broadband connection.