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We Found an Old AOL Install Disc, also Nostalgia

We found an old AOL install disc in our office today, and it brought back memories of a time when the internet was still in its infancy.  It was a time in which you couldn’t open your mailbox without being assaulted by at least twelve of these things.

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It was an innocent time, when the only internet available to the public was what the executives at America Online decided was fit for us to see.  There weren’t all these fancy search engines like Google, or a browser like Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, there was only AOL generated content.  That’s right ladies and gentleman; there was a time when internet porn wasn’t so easily accessible.

Though AOL did make their service accessible, through means that I’m pretty sure would be considered as assault and battery these days.  They mailed install discs to millions of homes, no less than eight days a week.  They displayed stacks of them at the checkout counters of Wal-Mart stores throughout the nation.  I’m pretty sure they were bribing teachers to give them to students where I went to junior high, because I distinctly remember coming home one day with a backpack full of them.

AOL installation discs used to be so ubiquitous that I remember for a time my sister actually used them to decorate her room.  It was a simpler time in which the height of cool for a middle-school aged child was affixing dozens of the discs to their wall using sticky-tack so that their shiny undersides would reflect the light from the overhead ceiling fan into a million prisms that bounced around the room.  Thankfully she grew out of that phase, and the discs disappeared from her walls.

Jordan Gribble

It wasn’t much longer that they disappeared from humanity all together.  People moved away from AOL as soon as they realized that there were connections available that were faster than the blazing speeds of 14.4k that AOL was offering, if only they switched to cable or DSL internet providers.  And switch they did, leaving America Online as the Myspace of that internet generation.

So now the discs languish in landfills across the country, along with other vestiges of the late nineties and early aughts such as Beanie Babies and Backstreet Boys albums.  Though, I sometimes wish we could go back to those days, I find myself actually missing a time when the internet felt small.  I miss those days before women carried iPads in their purses, and children used social media.  I even sometimes miss what sounded like the bleating of a wounded goat as my 56k modem attempted to connect to the internet. But, then I think of not being able to watch episodes of 30 Rock from Netflix on my iPhone while I’m eating lunch in my car, and I get over it.

Would you be willing to go back to the simpler times of the internet?  Let me know.

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