Time Travel in Cyber Space

Dad was darn kicked that day! 15th August 1995. He was always close to telecom and he had managed to get hold of the 100 hours internet connection from VSNL two years later. He also bought the best modem in the market - 33.6 kbps Boca! It surely was the best! The very first website I logged on to was www.yahoo.com

The Early Era

Yahoo Back in 1997

The next thing I did was create an account for email and chat. I still remember the username: vineetrajan . What I would do to get the password back. I can’t even retrieve the password because they insist on sending it to an email ID that I used 10 years back.
I remember Yahoo Chat very well. It would take 15 minutes to load on the dial up, all but 150KB of a Java Applet code and the wait was both tiring and exciting. It was exciting how many online friends I had made with people I never knew by face; it is scary now that I think about it.

I used only altavista for search; hang on I also used hotbot. Remember that one?

Altavista in 1997

hotbot back in 1999

I figured out soon that yahoo was not the only email service around. There was one called Yeehaa, which offered 5MB of space for email! That was some luxury! Hotmail offered only 2MB remember? Anything less than 1GB sounds sacrilege now.

the good ol hotmail login screen

The advent on Web 2.0

I guess the vaguest memory is of using Wikipedia back in 2001 for some school project. That was after my Encarta Encyclopedia CD went bust and I had to rely on the internet.

WikiPedia in 2001-2002

I started used fastmail.fm email service by now, and was quickly getting on to the social networking craze as well. I finally landed on orkut in 2003 and I must also take full credit for getting the entire college hooked to it in no time. The countless hours I spent in the darned browsing center with a bloody 256 kbps connection for 50 terminals trying to scrap away to glory! All priceless memories; I also dated someone for a while, one I met on orkut.

orkut when I first logged in

Hi5 was soon launched and it was in many ways better than orkut, especially allowing some cool features like finding friends more easily, allowing search by school etc.

hi5, what I used for close to two years

This was also the time I started blogging! The first ever blog post was about orkut. Yeah, that was what the craze was all about then. If I remember it right, it was in 2004 December. That’s when it all started.

By the beginning of 2005, I had my own gmail account as well. That was after such a painful wait for the invite.


It started with Facebook and Google. They were the single biggest drivers in bringing the entire mess in one place to be sorted out. Orkut integrated the google talk with the contacts. I think that singlehandedly took Yahoo Messenger out of the Indian market.
Social networking was more meeting people with like-minded interests. Which is when I got hooked to StumbleUpon; well the college was soon to pick up. At least the IT gang!

This was also the time, I started using Google Reader and Google News, not to mention crawling the internet for new Web 2.0 stuff. This was also the time, when YouTube got the better of me. Services started getting integrated into one another. I started using social bookmarks for my blog by now; StumbleUpon being the primary source of traffic.

LinkedIn came up finally along with a few more professional networking websites like joso. But LinkedIn stayed, and started integrating services as well.

Social Media has grown so much since those innocent days. It’s easy for anyone to get lost in the maze with so many networks, and sub networks, interest groups not to mention the usual link sharing, content sharing.

This was my little journey into the maze; I probably don’t want to leave anytime soon. People ask me these days about what my twitter handle is. It’s like we no longer have a name. Well I am just quick to reply, I am not much of a tweep but you can surely find me on my blog. I think I’ll aggregate whatever my online activities are on my blog. This is my real home.

Notice how I conveniently skipped mentioning rediff, sify, indiatimes and other Indian portals? Says a lot doesn’t it?

All images are from Way Back Machine

3 Responses to “Time Travel in Cyber Space”

  1. PratsNo Gravatar says:

    Nice post!!! I too belong to the same era…never used hotbot though. My first email id was on usa.net and I had prateekgupta@usa.net the effin’ buggers turned paid after sometime and I am sure Gmail would have killed them by now…..

  2. AnchitNo Gravatar says:

    Hotbot? never heard of that one … else my experiences mirror yours till the blogging phase, I used multiple rediff, yahoo and hotmail ids for ages, not to forget the agonizing dial-up connection which i lived with till 2005!!

    Good post Vineet!

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