Harken in the late 1990s with a recap of the dialup Internet experience

31.2kbit / s Dialup Connection Demonstration of the late 1990s dialup experience using almost period-accurate hardware to connect to modern websites using older browsers. Be careful: page load occurs in real time.

We have all found our coping strategies to get out of the epidemic by 2020. Biomedical engineer Gossip He likes to tinker with technology – especially older technology – and in the late 1990’s he decided to try to recreate what he wanted to connect to the Internet via dialup. He recorded the whole process in painful real time, pointing to the occasional commentary.

A certain age (Ahem) remembers well what it used to be like: Booting a computer also requires patience, especially in the early decades, when one can make coffee while bathing and booting. Someone’s computer from a floppy disk. One needs a dedicated phone line to connect to the Internet, as otherwise incoming calls may interrupt the connection, forcing one to repeat the entire dialup process. Web browsing was just as time consuming in the salad days of Netscape and Microsoft Explorer.

So much has changed since then, as the Internet has moved from a curiosity to a necessity, reshaping our culture in the process. As Liu mentioned on his blog:

The Internet has become an essential part of our daily lives, but the way we experience it through broadband high-speed connections, it was not like in my childhood. From the late 90’s to early 2000’s, I was dialing from my Pentium 133MHz non-MMX machine, equipped with 48MB of RAM running Windows 98SE (and later, Windows 2000 Professional). This experience was in itself, reflecting the fact that the Internet does not consider “always” a necessity or a norm – at that time, “TTT”, “talk to you tomorrow” was a short story.

Liu Needed To Use Miniproxy To Connect To Modern Websites.
Make it bigger / Liu needed to use miniProxy to connect to modern websites.

YouTube / Gough Liu

The video opens showing Liu’s Booting Techway Endeavor II computer (circa 1995), without commentary for excellent dramatic effect. Tongue-in-cheek “credits” offer basic specs: an Intel Pentium I 100 MHz CPU, 32MB RAM, and Fujitsu 2.6GB hard drive, enhanced with a Sony 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, and a 65k voice modem. Specialized software includes Microsoft Windows 98 SE, Netscape Communicator 4.8, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5.

Then come the static voice dialing to connect to the internet, and voila! We’re ready to start surfing with your Flash 31.2k connection. (As Liu explains, “56k is not possible due to the analog nature of the connection.”) Things get interesting here. It is not really possible to visit many modern websites directly because changes in the https protocol make it impossible to share cipher talks. So Liu uses miniProxy, which connects to the site at https, downloads the content, and sends all the rewritten links back to Liu’s computer so they can go through the proxy.

It Took 3 Minutes And 27 Seconds To Download The Executable File.
Make it bigger / It took 3 minutes and 27 seconds to download the executable file.

YouTube / Gough Liu

It takes a while to download the sample page from Slashdot, as the status bar below provides updates on our progress. “Web browsing technology has evolved dramatically over the years, and is similar to the HTML parameters; CSS and some types of JavaScript weren’t around when navigating, so the site loads, but it looks a lot different than how it is. You’ll experience it in modern browsers today. Liu says.

The rest of the trip includes visits to the Australian Meteorological Bureau (which still uses http), google.com, Wikipedia, xkcd (“We’ll wait a while for this comic”), and more, everything is loading. Real time It takes a full 3 minutes and 27 seconds to download an executable 120kb file for a simple software update. The entire video will make you grateful for all the technological advances over the last 20 years — especially the relatively large amount of bandwidth we’ve enjoyed today. Today’s kids don’t know how good they are.

Image listed by YouTube / Gough Liu

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