The Internet: Then and Now

Yellow sign stating 'Information Superhighway Ahead'

Let’s take a walk down memory lane, or a run down the “information superhighway,” as we used to call it.  Let’s talk about internet.

It’s the year 1999.  The early days of internet.  HTC had been providing internet for about four years, and it is right before we were all worried that technology would crash as we flipped the calendar to Y2K. We were all happily exploring the world wide web, whether we were on dial-up or one of the fortunate early adopters with a cable modem or DSL.  But let’s be real; most of us, regardless of whether you were living up north, or in coastal Horry County, you were on dial-up at the time. Heck, we were even happy to have to type http:// before we even put in the www!

You finally did it.  You bought that computer! Maybe you waited until the price dropped on that Compaq Presario in mid-1998 from $2,400 to $1,800.  This machine was state of the art.  At the time… Specs included:

  • A 333Mhz processor
  • 4 Gigabyte storage
  • 64 MB RAM
  • Floppy disk AND CD ROM drives

Now to get online.  All you had to do was connect to your dial-up modem and off you went.

Indeed, the future was here. You all took turns with the computer and if you didn’t have DSL or an additional phone line may have gotten grief from family members for tying up the phone line. The world was at your fingertips.  Imagine the possibilities of what we could learn or the possibility to improve all things for humankind. So, what did we do?  We shared jokes and pictures of cute Koala Bears.

An image of a slowly loading koala

Even if we even we had to wait patiently for them to load. This was fantastic, the future was here (eve if we had to wait a while longer for the cat videos).

Much of the content on the web was free, and we only needed to pay for the Internet itself.  Some of us added an additional phone line which was dedicated to the computer. Many of us happily signed up for AOL, CompuServe or another on-line service and paid the $23.95 monthly price tag.  All-in, we may have been spending $25 to $50 on Internet, but it allowed us to do things like never before.

As time marched on, technology and the internet improved.  One often overlooked benefit of internet service (at least here at HTC) is that you don’t pay more if you use more.  Think about that.  You don’t leave water running unnecessarily because it is wasteful and unless you have a well, costs money.  We turn out lights when we aren’t in the room because the more electricity you use, the more it costs.  However, internet is there for you all day, every day to use as you see fit.  Use it all day long.  Use it throughout the evening and the cost is the same.  We really cannot say the same about the utilities in our home.

Fast forward to today. Internet in your home (if provided by HTC) starts at a blazing speed of 500 Mbps.  Wi-Fi, something we didn’t even think of 25 years ago covers your home, so you aren’t tied to a desktop computer.  The internet is not a destination, dedicated to a particular desk, or room, in your home. Your TV is on, streaming Netflix, while you and your family all scroll on your phones and the front doorbell is keeping an eye on anyone who may walk up to your door.  All of these running on your home’s internet.

In 1999, a Ford F-150 cost was $15, 155. A 2024 F-150 starts at $37,500 and goes upwards of $85,000.

In 1999 the average price for an acre of land in South Carolina was $1,520. Today it will range from $6,000 to over $50,000 in developed areas. 

Although the cost of internet has risen over time, the advances and frequency of use have grown momentously.

The best internet is the one we don’t even need to think about.  It is there, working for us 24/7, no matter how much of it we use.  We almost take it for granted and forget how far we’ve come in the past 25 years. 

What would we do without it?

Keep in mind, if you are reading this on your smart phone, the average iPhone has 256GB storage.  That’s about 65 times more than that state-of-the-art Compaq computer back in ‘98.  Also, it fits in your pocket.

Now a word from our sponsor, HTC.

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