At the moment I am re-reading a humorous book about computers from 1996 called Dave Barry in Cyberspace. I have quite a few of his books and like to dip into the ones that are basically collections of his newspaper columns every now and then because they are light reading and more or less timeless. This isn’t timeless. It was probably a bit quaint by 1997 and now it feels like a historical document.
It has been a real trip down memory lane to read topical jokes about Windows 95, 6xCD-ROM drives, AOL floppies, and computers with 4MB of RAM, with lots of “oh yes, I remember that” moments. The book was written at a time when the web was just a part of the internet and not the whole thing like some people might think now. Connecting to the internet involved modems, engaged tones at peak times, call charges, and long, long waits for any web page to appear. ‘Information Superhighway’ was still a relatively new term and not yet totally cliched. Ironic really because, looking back, it was just an overgrown path compared to what we have now.
Some of the things mentioned in there have survived. Smiley faces, LOL, LMAO and IMHO were in pre-internet bulletin boards and lasted through IRC, instant messaging, forums and through to SMS, BBM and other current media. The amusing thing is that, as with sex, the current crop of teenagers think they invented it and expect us oldies to be confused by textspeak like LOL when it has been around for longer than any of the teenagers.
There was one thing that stood out though. It was in very common usage in 1996 and had been for quite some time by then but I can’t remember seeing it used for ages now. Whatever happened to <g>?
1996. Only 16 years ago, but while you might hear a hit song from then (Don’t Look Back in Anger for example) and be surprised it is that old, all the computer stuff seems pre-historic.