cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Yeah, even in the early days it was all about sex online…

No it wasn’t, that was the unfortunate “special theme” for this September 1996 issue of “the net” magazine. I found this mint copy, along with the CD-ROM, in my Box of Old Job Stuff. The reason I have kept this is not because of the Special 16 Page Report, but because my first web project at Maricopa Community College that got attention was featured in this issue (No, my first web project was NOT abut sex, get yer minds outta the gutter).


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

The magazine had a mention of Writing HTML (still alive at http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/tut/), a guide I published on the web back in 1994 and kept piling on for the next 6 years or so.

I had an odd thought looking at this magazine that back in this time, the best way to help people understand what was on the web was not done online, but in print magazines (well there was the NCSA Mosaic What’s New Page which stopped being updated in 1996)).

One more time- the effective way to share resources and interesting web sites was via printed screenshots and URLs. There was likely some online version of this, but the web was just on the cusp of being seen as useful, and still a few years away from being something people knew about widely.

So let’s go back and see what was relevant in 1996 (besides online sex).

  • A new web search engine was out, “InfoSeek” to try and compete with Lycos, Yahoo, WebCrawler, excite
  • NetNoir has a new interactive storytelling adventure called “African Story Lines”- NetNoir is still around as one of the first African-American web sites. Look at the instructions “You can reach NetNoir via America Online via keyword NetNoir or the World Wide Web at http://www.netnoir.com/) — AOL was seen as the more familiar gateway, and this new fangled thing we just now call “the web” was the World Wide Web.
  • Listed under “education” is Cells Alive which was done originally to promote the capabilities of a graphic design company, but is s reference that still lives now at http://www.cellsalive.com/
  • “The world waited with baited breath for the release of the World Wide Web Browser Netscape Navigator 2.0” – the bug new feature was the new plugin architecture that allowed technologies like Acrobat, Quicktime, Java to load in a web page rather than external applications. “Navigator is still a buggy an doften unwieldy creature, though. It hordes memory and it crashes with alarming consistency.” Internet Explore did not even exist; the other browsers were NCSA Mosaic, WinWeb, and MacWeb.
  • The Spot was highlighted as a web tv show, what we would call a reality show (it is still up at http://www.thespot.com/) “this site follows the affairs, happenings, and ups and downs pf five hot Los Angelinos. They live in a sprawling, seven bedroom beach house with a 42-year history as a carousing and partying site.”
  • There is a feature article on “Web Word Processors: Using the HTMl Extensions of Word and WordPerfeect” The author compared the features of Microsoft Word 7.0 for Windows 95 and Novell’s WordPerfect (version 6.1 for Windows and 3.5 for Mac).
  • The first video conferencing tool I recall is described here “A Basic Guide to CU-SeeMe”- software that was invented at Cornell University. “While CU-SeeMe is a cool way to communicate (if nothing else) there are still problems with using video and audio over the net… Even with the high bandwidth of a T1 line, I rarely, if ever, received more than 5 frames oer second of video form other CU-SeeMe users… Modem users will have more problems than those on ISDN or T1 lines. Transmissions can almost be useless at 14.4 modem speeds (and audio won’t work at 14.4) with only a bit of improvement at 28.8” What a long way we have come!
  • The music sites reviewed included CDNow! and EMusic- both front ends for ordering audio CDs- digital music online? hah, not in 1996.
  • Microsoft was proposing a standard specification for secure financial transactions, Secure Transaction Technology (STT) – I am not sure if it really exists, as everything now is done under SSL (secure sockets layer) that NetScape developed.

There’s a lot more, but this bit of back browsing is interesting to see the state of the net in 1996- hey is this what you were looking for in terms of turning the clock back, Martha? I have an extra copy of the magazine I can bring out to F’burg if it might be of use to you.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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