Between 2 and 6 May 1995, the Computer Faire & BEXA was held in Johannesburg. A young company called Internet Africa had a stall, and was selling modems and dial-up subscriptions to get online.

We chose, on my mother’s advice, my initials rbsp as my username. Long-time readers will know that the first few letters from Randolph Bryan Stuart are where my “Internet” nickname and domain name comes from. As for the “P”, well, that’s a story for another day.

That means it has been twenty years that I’ve been online. This is more than half my life, which is staggering.

Here’s to the memories of Pegasus Mail, Trumpet Winsock (there’s a page to support the developer of Trumpet Winsock if you’re curious), Internet Relay Chat via mIRC, and of course the newsgroup, now part of Google Groups. If you’re brave you can search there for my initials. My mother and I spent a lot of time in there discussing the World Wrestling Federation, as it was known then.

The Internet was a very different place. We used Windows 3.11, with Trumpet Winsock to get online. Later in August 1995, Windows 95 was released (I bought it the following day, the upgrade version, on 13 diskettes).

To browse the World Wide Web, we used first Mosaic, and later Netscape Navigator. Eventually Internet Explorer 3 came out and that was the end of Netscape’s reign.

(Aside: when I was at university in 1996, I used FreeBSD and was introduced to UNIX for the first time.)

Our first modem was a US Robotics model, with a speed of 28.8Kbps. In 1997 I went on to work the helpdesk at an Internet Service Provider, and my experience with dial-up helped a great deal.

My first website began in October of 1995, after some help from a very patient employee of Internet Africa. This site still contains some original words from that original incarnation, but we’ll get to that in October 2015.

Here’s to the next twenty years of the Internet. May it survive and prosper, and bring people together as it brought me into the world.

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