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March 13, 2014



I couldn't give you the date if my life depended on it, but once the internet came into commercial existence, I was an early AOL user. There were no yahoo groups, and certainly no FB, then, but AOL had wonderful communities devoted to different interests. I absolutely loved the mystery community. So many of us who started out together as aspiring authors became published around the same time, and because of that online community, we were able to celebrate that together. Today we take it for granted, but being able to make friends with people far away was a great advancement. Marcia, how fortunate you were to enter on the ground floor! Thanks for sharing this.

Marcia Talley

Kris, I remember when I first heard of AOL. They were located in N Virginia, and were trying to attract backers. Warnings were all over the (early) internet, don't do it, it's a scam. If I had only ignored those warnings!!!

Mysti Berry

We had Unix accounts at UC Santa Cruz in the mid-80s. I thought I was on the internet (usenet) but may be mistaken....

Mario in DC

Although I did access Usenet once or twice in grad school on my Unix account, I first dove into the 'net a few years later with the Unix account at my work in the library of a think tank in Washington, DC. E-mail (Bitnet! And the then brand-new Dorothy-L, when it seemed mostly other librarians and a handful of students.) I vividly remember Archie and Gopher, and the excitement of downloading graphics -- sight unseen! -- from the Library of Congress. Then came Mosaic, with all the excitement that caused, and Netscape, and Mozilla. The Internet belonged to .edu and .gov -- and then came the flood when AOL opened the gates of their private little pool ... Hard to believe how long ago all that was.

Marcia Talley

I'm beginning to see a pattern here. All that "fooling around" on government time. LOL.

Karen in Ohio

Oh, Marcia, a fellow Flintstones-era Internet fan! I was an early adapter, trying not especially successfully in those halcyon days to figure out how to connect with other people, and to do research, while typing in one line at a time. Then waiting, and waiting, and waiting while the 1400-baud dialup modem worked, and for someone, anyone in the ether to respond.

Then CompuServe and Prodigy started giving everyone diskettes to sign up for their services. No graphics, just text, and it was fairly cheap, as long as you didn't go over your time allotments. Microsoft was next, and AOL. I never thought much of Microsoft's site/message boards, but I still have dear, dear friends I made via the crafts and sewing message boards on CompuServe, Prodigy, AOL and Usenet. I've met two of my overseas friends, one in England and one in France, in person.

About 75% of my first book (published in 1994)included research that came from the connections I made on Prodigy.

Karen in Ohio

And... in about 1995 online services like AOL, who expected their biggest customers to be geeky male types, were shocked to find out that one of the leading segments of their customer base were middle-aged women, largely for the hobby connections.

I could have told them why. Women of that age already knew how to type, for the most part. Most men back then were never expected to learn to type, so they didn't unless they were planning to major in journalism or English.

Marcia Talley

Karen, you are so right about women and typing! I signed up for typing in high school and I have to say it was the most valuable class I ever took. Nowadays, high schools are teaching "keyboarding" to everyone.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Agree about typing! I am still terrible at it--but how can we live without it?

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