In 2001, the majority of Americans didn’t have the Internet.
In 2001, the majority of Americans didn't have the Internet.
Most people got online using dial up connections.
Only 7% of Internet users worldwide had broadband.
Most things purchased online were paid for by money order.
Hotmail address were de rigueur; the gmail domain was owned by Garfield.
If you got any news on the phone, it was probably because you were using it to talk to someone. Or maybe you were calling a 900 phone number to get the weather.
Despite my youthful good looks, I'm actually old enough to remember those dark times.
In 2001 I was interning at The New York Observer. It wasn't uncommon in the morning to find half the newsroom with that day's New York Times draped over their desks long before their 20-pound CRT monitors were switched on.
Most research was done using Nexis, which was only available on one computer. Confused about how to use it, I more than once went to the library to use microfiche. The paper had a website, but it was only updated once a week. At least, we were hopeful it would be: only one person knew how to update it, and sometimes he just forgot. Online, news content felt like it fell into a black hole. No one shared stories or commented or pressed "like." It was much more gratifying to pass your work on a newsstand than it was to see it on a screen.
And yet, news did exist online way back then. On the Internet, print publications were generally navigated using blue hyperlinks. Font-sizes were rarely bigger than what you'd see in an actual paper. There were no videos. Ads were small and boxy and static and generally looked like they were an afterthought and designed by a gold salesman.
At least, that was how things were for most of that year. Of course the 9/11 attacks changed what we expected to get from Internet news; the non-stop coverage that was fed to us on cable in the days and weeks made us hungry for updates now, not over tomorrow's stale coffee.
Before that fateful morning, the websites of news outlets were slower, quainter, more static places. These days, you can't look away from your screen for more than a few minutes (OK, fine, a few seconds), lest you miss the big fascinating amazing wonderful awe-inspiring and sharable new story.
Before you get whisked away to something better, here's what news sites used to look like:
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