The internet can be traced back to the days when ARPNET was released back in the 1960s. The first message was sent over the ARPNET in 1969 from UCLA to the Stanford Research Institute which became the first networked nodes using packet switching networks to send bursts of information back to the host computer.
In the early 1990s, you had to install software to discover a local ISP or Internet Service Provider, if available in your area, which the phone company then provided to you using their software. AT&T™, would then send you software over the phone line that loaded a bunch of new phone numbers to attempt to dial and connect to a node on their server. This could take a few hours to download and accomplish using a 9600bps baud pcmcia modem connected to a [lets say] GateWay2000 ColorBook™ laptop, which is what I utilized back in 1990. AOL™ or America Online™ as it was originally known as, at least created an automated dialing software package that worked most of the time, often times kicking you off their session. One advantage, though was that AOL™ and others installed software to make their online ecosystems a little more graphically pleasing.
Once connected, you would either be connected to a BBS Bulletin Board Service or launch software that would give very limited access to the broader World Wide Web. Some of the early service companies, acting like an online mall were AOL™, Prodigy™ and CompuServe™, where you can enter chat rooms, play multi player limited video games, get local weather, read your email, get sports scores or access your bank account.
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