Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Internet History

No, not that kind of history, don’t worry.

Twenty-five years ago this month, the first website went up on the world wide web. That was 1991. It took a few years for the Philippines to catch on, the first internet connection in the country was only set up in 1994.

My personal experience with the internet came a bit later, during our freshman year in University, sometime in the schoolyear 1995-1996. Around that time a couple of friends and I would walk out to this computer shop along Katipunan avenue that had internet access. Computer shops weren’t prolific back then, and most of them offered only document editing and printing services. They didn’t even have LAN gaming back then, as DOOM had only come out the year before and Starcraft was just a gleam in Blizzard’s eye. This particular computer shop we trekked to had 2-3 terminals with internet access, which at that time we mostly used to browse anime-related websites and fanfiction (RIP Anime Web Turnpike)

Internet usage grew quickly in the succeeding years. A couple of friends got internet connections first. One of them lived near the University so a bunch of us happened to hang out there often, not just for internet access but also to read manga and watch anime. We jokingly referred to his house as “the Entertainment Capital of UP Village”

I forget when we got our own internet connection at home. I don’t even remember the provider we used. We stuck with one of the monthly plans for a while, but also went through a period of trying out prepaid internet access plans (RIP ISP Bonanza) and sometimes even hacking a free email service to also give me internet access (RIP Edsamail). It was the days of dial-up modems and beeping sounds, when piracy consisted of arcane commands issued in dark IRC channels. (The first time I got pirated music wasn’t off the internet however – for some reason I had gotten an MP3 of Oasis’ Wonder Wall on floppy disks. Yes, multiple disks).

Aside from the piracy and the fanfiction, the internet was a treasure trove of information. I quickly learned the usual web development skills – HTML and CSS were relatively easy, and I had a geocities website set up back in the day, a strange green-text-on-black-background kind of thing (I was never particularly good at web design). My email address for most of the university years was a Yahoo one (RIP Yahoo 2016), which I often used to join discussion groups on various geeky topics like video games and anime and what not – these days we have reddit for that.

Today, internet in the Philippines has come a long way and is a big part of daily life for most people. There’s still a lot of improvement to go – broadband here is still very expensive and very slow compared to other countries and there is no real competition yet, something hopefully to be solved soon.

What was your first encounter with the internet?

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