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May 17, 2021Liked by Steven Sinofsky

I recall first learning about the internet in Nov 1989, the evening (daytime in Seattle) when the Berlin Wall came down. Someone came shouting down the hall that this was happening, and several of us gathered around a newsgroup terminal reading a live-ish description of what was happening. What struck me at the time is that we were unable to confirm any of this news from any of the mainstream media organizations, TV news, radio, etc. It was several hours later that they started reporting on it, and I thought, huh, this is different. Maybe someday, everyone will have a printing press, information will flow freely across the globe, ideas will develop communally and enrich us all, we'll be able to reconnect with high school friends, and....oh wait.

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Back when we used to call up the local number for automated quotes 15 minutes delayed on MSFT.

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May 16, 2021Liked by Steven Sinofsky

AOL used to only provide a set number of hours each month before you had to start paying overages. As soon as Windows 95 released with a TCP/IP stack built-in and local ISPs began to emerge I signed up. I kept AOL on the $10/month "Bring Your Own Access" plan. Even at dial-up speed the BYOA was almost always faster than dialing into one of AOL's POPs. It was especially helpful to have an ISP when AOL went unlimited and it was impossible for most people to get connected at night.

It's interesting to see that most of the early Internet software was written for the Mac. Development for equivalents on Windows was swift; I can't recall being unable to find a Windows equivalent software package for anything.

I used Eudora for email, the venerable mIRC for IRC, and a combination of Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. I used FTP a fair amount also but can't remember which client I used. I also used to keep a text file full of cool sites in the early days.

Saturday mornings I used to watch a show produced by Cnet. They would often call out interesting sites to visit on the Internet but AOL early on didn't have a browser. I recall trying a beta of it and it was terrible; yet another reason to abandon AOL for primary access and use an ISP.

I used to keep a copy of the White Pages next to my PC setup. The first 50 or so pages outlined information on the telephone network itself, including which exchanges were the cheapest and when. They could range from 10.6 cents no matter how long the line was in use to 5 cents the first minute and 2 cents thereafter.

When the telco offered a single rate plan I immediately switched and added a second phone line. Now I could call dozens more numbers without incurring extra charges. One month the bill would have been $1,200 if not for the single rate plan! I would have paid a lot of money for even a fractional T1 at home if it were available at the time.

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I love these stories!

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May 16, 2021Liked by Steven Sinofsky

So interesting to hear the backstory from this time, but the line "Henry had a good deal of fun in college" made me lol.

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May 16, 2021Liked by Steven Sinofsky

Great chapter, very exciting times. I remember this turning point when the internet went from unknown to astronomical growth. This chapter and the previous one does a great job describing the grass roots movement taking place at the time. The internet and WWW started bottom to top, instead of top down.

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Nov 17, 2022Liked by Steven Sinofsky

Unfortunately, once they rolled the Internet out at WordPerfect Corp. in 1993 or early 1994, productivity decreased. Not just web surfing but downloading ID Software's games and playing them on work PCs! We were a small office in Abq, NM, which was later shut down after Novell bought the company. But it was fun! Wow, it's hard for me to remember much about that time except we couldn't get enough of the Internet!

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Curious to know Steven why J Allard’s memo got more attention from BillG and other leaders yet it seems you wrote yours first? Particularly as you mentioned it being J’s first job (ie not someone coming in with experience). Was it simply because he was working on TCP/IP (and FTP/TELNET) and thus was more known as the guy working on the Internet? and it just so happened that you’d experienced the Cornell stuff coincidentally and thus the two memos were so close in timings.

These situations around who gets credit are interesting (and there is often convenient rewriting of history that goes on to suit also). Either way a very exciting time for sure!

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Thank you. I’m glad to hear you say that since what you observed is definitely what was the case and should have been the case.

J’s memo was a strategic memo with a deep understanding of the landscape and why needed to happen. My trip report was an eyes wide open “wow look at this”. J was at least a step ahead of me.

Additionally, because J worked on the product team and specifically the team responsible for this area (not an onlooker) he had tons more credibiiity than me and should have the first voice on the matter.

My role was not to be the source of ideas but to amplify the best ideas I could find—classic PM!

The company was fortunate J had written his memo and we crossed paths when we did. The owl I had made it easy to amplify what J wrote but also what he was *doing* from the real product team already.

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