Before Facebook? Say What?!

Sharing our thoughts and ideas with the entire world has never been easier.  Because of the Internet, we are able to instantly share our thoughts using a blog, what we ate for lunch posted on Facebook, and a daily “selfie” photo via Instragram. Satisfying our need for instant gratification with feedback, it’s hard to imagine what the world was like before the global takeover of the Internet. Facebook and Twitter were not there at the beginning so I wondered, how did people communicate before mobile apps and high speed Internet? Today I will take a look at how far the Internet has come.

Like music and dance, the Internet has evolved over time.



Possessing knowledge of the more recent online-sharing social platforms, I decided to pick the brains of my geekiest (that’s a compliment!) and tech-savvy friends . Starting with Tim Dachtera who is one of my oldest and dearest childhood friends. Tim works as a Web Operations Engineer at Success Factors, a leader in cloud solutions for human resources, located in Minnetonka, Minnesota. I give credit to Tim for introducing and feeding my on online chat room addiction. The year was…well…let’s just say I had a 14.4k dial-up modem which disconnected anytime call waiting came through.

When asked about his earliest experiences with the World Wide Web he replied, “Back in the early 90’s when my family got on the internet, it was by using a dial-up modem, and it was me, connecting to a BBS (Bulletin Board System) which was one of the original forms of online communication.  It was typically a single computer, with a modem that would answer calls and allow users to post message, play some very basic text/ASCII games or read news-groups from linked computers.”

Let’s break that down. ASCII, which stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is, ” is a character-encoding scheme based on the ordering of the w:English alphabet. ASCII codes represent text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices that use text. Most modern character-encoding schemes, which support many more characters than did the original, are based on ASCII. ” (“ASCII,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia) The photo of the Koala Country an example of the pre-Minecraft style of graphics.

Early examples of BBS and Newsgroup pages
Early examples of Bulletin Board System screenshot (above)


Early 90’s Newsgroup Screenshot (above)
















I asked another friend who is also an expert on “old skewl” online platforms. Ioannis Nompelis, my friend the “rocket scientist” as I call him, is a Professor and Research Scientist and the University of Minnesota, whose recent projects include being a primary author and maintainer of Molecular Gas-Dynamic Simulator v2.0.  

“Back in the day, 90’s, social media consisted of “newsgroups” which was something like a global bulletin board with subjects, and online bulletin board systems (BBS). There were also MUDD and MUSH (multi-user online dungeon) games. I also remember an online chatting forum with thousands of online users, pretty much every college student in the US, called “ISCA” that was running in one of the University of Iowa’s machines. People would spend days in a row playing online games, and they had a culture that went with the game, and they made friends, and they chatted about current events, etc. It was like today, only somewhat slower, with much less graphics, and sometimes not as intuitive of an interface. In terms of actual value, it was just like today. You got useful stuff, you got crap, you got annoying things, you had friends, and people you disliked and avoided, etc. It was just as big a waste of time back then as it is today.”

Sounds familiar! I guess people haven’t changed as much as the Internet has….


Now days you can find virtually anything on the Internet. A shining example is the website Prison Talk, an “Online web community was conceived in a prison cell, designed in a halfway house, and funded by donations from families of ex-offenders, to bring those with an interest in the prisoner support community a forum in which their issues and concerns may be addressed by others in similar circumstances and beliefs.” I’m glad to know that I’ll have support when my loved ones are on an “extended vacation” if need be.

 Bringing things to a local level, Caribou Coffee asks for their customers to post their thoughts on a chalkboard which is displayed on their wall. A real wall. No matter where you go, people want to share their thoughts with the world. What do you have to say?


In-person posting
In-person posting at Caribou Coffee



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s