Category: Computer Ramblings

Added: 18th of August 2021

Viewed: 251 times

The information superhighway. Getting online in the early days of the internet

I first started using the internet in about 1998. The only way to get online then was to order a Free installation CD in the post from your internet service provider. My Internet Service Provider at the time was BT, and still is 20+ years later.

Once you had installed the software and managed to dial in to BT servers, you paid standard telephone charges from the moment you logged on to the time you logged off.

Some people I knew at the time didn't just pay for the time they spent online, but they also paid a monthly fee to companies like Microsoft to use their own search engines, MSN.

Microsoft MSN Search Engine

I was using a 28k Modem at the time, so could only browse text based websites. If I visited websites that contained images, the images took an age to download. This was a time before compressed formats like .gif and .jpg, jpeg really became the standard on websites, so many websites used uncompressed .bmp images.

It didn't take long before I had upgraded to a 56K modem. My internet service provider BT also introduced a new service allowing you to use the internet in evenings and all weekend for a fixed monthly fee of £9.99, so waiting for content to download wasn't such an issue.

BT Internet website

This was later replaced with the BT Anytime package at a cost of £14.99 per month, which meant I could use the internet anytime, with no extra call charges. Also companies like Microsoft started to drop the charges to use their search engines, the internet was finally becoming easier and cheaper for users to access.

BT Internet website

For those prepared to pay the extra you could have ISDN installed in your home, which offered 128k download speeds.

Broadband Arrives
It was around 2002 when BT started to offer Broadband packages (ADSL) with 0.5MB - 2MB download speeds, which I promptly ordered from BT. BT upgraded my line, and also sent me a Alcatel USB Speedtouch Broadand Modem. The monthly cost for this was £29.99 per month.

SpeedTouch USB.JPG
By CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

We were also sent an ADSL Micro Filter, that plugged in to our telephone socket. This separated our broadband from our telephone line which meant we could use the telephone at the same time as using the internet. This seems so basic now, but if you were using a modem at the time, and someone picked up the telephone in your home, you were immediately disconnected from the internet.

A couple of years later BT upgraded all customers to 8MB download speeds. My Alcatel USB Speedtouch Broadand Modem was replaced with a regular router that I connected to my PC via a network cable, which meant my internet was now always on, since the Alcatel USB Speedtouch required me to connect and log on.

Finally in 2016 I upgraded to Fibre which now gives me download speeds of up 50MB a sec.

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