The A-Ha Moment

By Deane Barker on July 17, 2006

When was your a-ha! moment about the Internet? Think back to the early days: can you remember a moment when you thought: Whoa, this thing may really take off?

I was pondering this the other day, and I can remember three moments from the mid-nineties that made me sit up and take notice.


I was watching TV and an ad for Motorola came on. I have no idea what the ad was about, but it ended with the Motorola URL appearing on the screen. I remember that as clear as a bell – it was simple white on black. It was the first time I had ever seen a URL in mass media. At the time, I thought this was ridiculous.


AOL ran an ad which showed a guy talking to a woman at a party. He asked her if he could call her sometime. She wrote something on a slip of paper, pressed in into his palm, and said “Sure” before walking away. The guy unfolded the paper, and it AOL email address. I remember thinking, can you do that? Give someone your email address like a phone number?


After I had gotten into the Internet a bit, I was emailing someone I know, and I mentioned that we should get together for lunch. He or she (I can’t remember who it was) responded, and a few emails later we had set up a lunch date. We both appeared for lunch at the designated place and time, without ever discussing the date offline. This completely blew me away, that we could arrange something in real life, without ever hearing each other’s voice.

Did you ever have a moment like these? What was it?

Comments (3)

Raffy says:

I never really had that moment. I’d been interested in computer networking as a boy in 1990. I do recall thinking, “There needs to be vast inbetween connections of these things.” Soon after I found out that indeed that was the case. Nearby universities had such networks accessible via dialup stations (just like the BBSs i frequented.) That’s when some pals and I started cracking them and getting into shell accounts. The www was quite rudimentary then and of no interest to us. We were all about IRC access and #warez. Ahhhh those were the days...

Anonymous says:

when i sent my first email across the country in ‘82 or so, and it travelled faster than by u.s. mail...

Peter Shen says:

Back in the days I had a hard time trying to conceptualize how email travels faster than telephone facsmiles (My uncle wrote business letters and faxed them out with computer faxing software – he’d send 10 pages at a time through international telephone calls.) I couldn’t conceptualize the vast computer networks through which emails are sent, and as plain text messages...

And then... it was the year I got online in 1997 – and I was 13 years old, at camp. That summer I was fascinated about how I started a Geocities home page using my computer from Taiwan. I flew to Boston for computer camp and accessed my homepage from the computer lab – realizing that I flew several hours and miles across the ocean. WHOA!

And more recently it was when I discovered Remote Computing, in earlier days done with Timbuktu and pcAnywhere, and now with XP’s Remote Desktop. I remotely configured an FTP server (and my firewall!) to allow incoming connections – and then I uploaded photos with my family’s computer in China. Oh, how I love to be omnipresent!!!!