Friday Fun Link – MTV News Explains The Internet (in 1995)

An old clip from 1995 of Kurt Loder explaining “the Internet” to the MTV generation has gone viral over the last day or so.

This hits home for me because 1995 was when I discovered the Internet as well.  I was nearing the end of my undergrad degree when I ended up applying for (and being accepted to) an exchange program that the U of R Arts Department ran every year with the University College of Ripon & York, St. John in the UK (try saying that college name five times fast!  Hmm, good to see they’ve actually shortened it to York St. John University!)

Anyhow, I could pretty much fill this blog with stories of the adventures (and mis-adventures) I had during that four-month exchange but for now, I’ll focus on the subject at hand.

UCRYSJ had done a lot to build exchanges with, not only small universities on the Canadian prairies, but institutions across the United States and around the world.  As there were only five Canadians there, all from the U of R, we quickly expanded our circle of friendship to some of the other exchange students, especially the Americans.

And I still remember being in the dining hall and after we’d finished eating supper, a couple of the American students said “We’re going to check e-mail!”


I followed them to the computer lab and they showed me how they were able to send magical messages to family and friends back home via this mysterious “Internet”.   They also showed me search engines (Yahoo at that time was the biggie) and a few “web sites” where you could find out news and other happenings from back home.  (I suspect the true addiction kicked in as soon as I realised I could get NHL scores – something that didn’t get covered in the Times of London!)

My sister was at U of R as well so I got in touch with her (I think I called which probably cost me about $10!) and she said she’d look into it and try to get an e-mail account for me…if the U of R offered such a thing!

A little while later, she let me know that she’d gotten me an account (which is now lost in the fog of time – I doubt it was something as straightforward as “” but more likely something like “”.  From then on, I was able to use e-mail to keep in touch with home…and flirt with girls who were sitting right beside me in the computer lab!  (Of course, the amount of time I spent in the computer lab probably influenced why these flirtations rarely went any further.)

But those are stories for another blog post.  At any rate, it’s really mind-blowing to think how far we’ve come in fifteen years.  Now people travel the world and stay connected with home via Skype, Facebook and yes, even e-mail.

I’ve managed to track down a few of the people I met during the exchange on Facebook since then but in some ways, I feel like I was part of the last group of people to travel overseas when it really was cutting the cord (and yes, I know I was in a prim English country town, not exactly the jungles of Borneo.)  But still – I bet you can get wifi on the beach in Timbuktu these days so you can do FaceTime on your iPhone with your friends back home.

Next time – the rise & fall of AltaVista!  (Or maybe a tangent about our weekend trip to Amsterdam instead!)

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