The first website I ever visited was Yahoo.com.
The whole sordid affair went down in the mid-90s on a school trip to the Science Center. While other kids from our class learned how paper was made or watched Imax films about the Amazon, my friends and I raced to a dim room at the back stuffed with clunky computer monitors sitting in a big circle. See, we had read ads in the paper about a new exhibit showcasing the Informative Superb-highway and we wanted to experience the straight dope first hand.
Unfortunately for us, geeks from other school districts were keen to surfboard the internetwork as well, because the room was jam-packed with sweaty nerds in long lines waiting for a small half-hour turns to ride the wave.
Well, we waited and waited and waited and eventually scored a yellow, plastic stool in front of a big screen. Giddy as schoolgirls, we decided to begin expanding our minds and broadening our horizons by researching the hit TV show Baywatch. This was because we had many questions about the show.
Now remember — this was the mid-90s here. Cell phones looked like briefcases, encyclopedias filled home libraries, and young kids with dirty faces stood on street corner soap boxes hocking the evening edition on your way home from work.
In these dark times, the only website any of us had heard of was Yahoo, so after spending ten minutes finding and opening Netscape Navigator, we typed in yahoo.com, hit enter, and began waiting for this new dawn of civilization to drop down upon our young and eager heads.
But first …
… there was nothing.
Nothing at all.
Just a blank screen in a dim room filled with nerves, teen sweat, and yellow, plastic stools. We waited and prayed until eventually heart-pounding teasers dribbled out at the bottom of the screen. “Contacting server,” it pledged robotically first, which sounded promising until it updated itself with only “Connecting to server” a couple minutes later. Then a few minutes later “Transferring data” had finally begun, and big red pixels slowly began dropping into view.
But it was too late.
Our half hour was finishing up.
Yes, our big dreams and wild ideas of this magical fantasyland on the other end of the wires dissolved into a page full of text, broken image links, and a complete lack of Baywatch. We walked away that day broken hearted.
Some of us cried.
But now, up here in 2009, when I look back on that long bus ride home, I smile because it reminds me of how far we’ve come. Websites load in the blink of an eye, mp3s zip home in a few seconds, and giant video clips of skateboarding accidents download to our monitors in no time flat.
Watching something download really fast sure does get your juices flowing, doesn’t it? As those little bar-graphs fill up, you just rub your palms together and cackle like a madman. I mean, things are just so good now. It’s gotten to the point where David Hasselhoff can appear shirtless on your screen without you even noticing he’s coming.