Twenty years on the Internet

PipexToday is the 20th anniversary of my first steps on the Internet. On 27th November 1995 I joined the Internet, by subscribing to Pipex Dial.  My username was ga42 and it cost £15 plus VAT for a month’s dial-up internet. I know this because I found the bill earlier this year when I was clearing out my study.

I’d been meaning to get connected for some time. I’d been excited about the internet for years since I worked for the Royal Society of Chemistry on online scientific databases. I took the plunge because I was working as a freelance writer and editor, and for the first time, a potential client had said “Can I send you the details by email”? So although it was expensive at the time on a small freelance income, I said yes, signed up straightaway, and secured the client.

Pipex Dial was one of the first Internet providers: ‘Pipex’ came from The Public IP Exchange.  Dial up wasn’t always easy: I also found a list of error messages and advice to myself on trying to get it working. It helped to be married to an IT tinkerer!

Pipex Dial got me connected to all the information that was out there. It was breathtaking – but it was nothing like today:

  • In June of 1995 there were only 23,500 websites!
  • In 1995, the Internet had a worldwide user base of less than 40 million.
  • Facebook today is 15 times larger than the entire Internet was in 1995.

This year also marked the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the trAce Online Writing Centre. In 1995 when I signed up for Pipex Dial I had no idea how much THAT would change my life within the next couple of years!  I joined the Internet for business reasons and because I was excited by the amount of information it would give me access to. I hadn’t yet realised that it was a whole new creative medium as well.