When I started using the Internet in 1995, there was no high-speed access, which probably strikes many people as difficult to believe.
Instead, there was dial-up access in all of its 28K or 56K glory. It delivered the Web in an agonizingly slow way but we were so amazed by this thing called the Web that driving in the slow lane was just fine.
That said, dial-up was not only slow but it tended to stop working for a variety of reasons. If someone picked up another extension, the connection would crap out. If someone called and left a voice-mail message, the connection would disappear. These Web interuptus tended to happen with alarming frequency when a download was 98% completed, forcing you to download the software again, which could take 30 minutes as opposed to 30 seconds.
This nostalgic look at dial-up burst on to the scene last week after learning a much-anticipated high-speed connection at a beach house in rural Prince Edward Island was, in reality, dial-up. The pain, the agony, the molasses-like slowness of it all.
After the purchasing of a U.S. Robotics modem (the last one apparently to be found on PEI), extensive support from Bell and some painful configuration issues, we finally got the dial-up connection up and running.
Well, I wouldn’t describe it as running; it’s more like a languid stroll or relaxed amble. Each page requested appears with glacial-like speed. In other words, it’s agonizing for anyone who takes a high-speed connection as a god-given right.
The upside is it makes multi-tasking easy because there’s so much time between the appearance of Web pages – there’s no instant gratification each time you decide to look at a different Web site.
That’s the crazy part about speed; the faster the connection, the less appreciation about the size and speed of the pipe. For anyone who thinks today’s high-speed connections leave something to be desired, try living with dial-up for an hour, let alone a day.
Of course, any kind of Internet access is better than no access if you’re digitally engaged and make your living from being connected. So for the next week, I’ll live with dial-up access even if means taking a long time just to check e-mail. And the best part is when I get home, my high-speed connection will seem ultra-fast.