Vintage Mac Living

24 Hours in Cyberspace, 7 Days with Dated Browsers

- 2006.10.31

On Thursday, February 8, 1996, the worlds top photographers, editors, programmers, and interactive designers banded together to create a digital time capsule of the Internet. The purpose of the project was to see how much the digital revolution was changing our lives.

What was the project called? It was called "24 Hours in Cyberspace - The Painting on the walls of the digital cave". It became a coffee table book with a CD that included the entire original website (along with Netscape 2.02) and a copy of the episode of Nightline about the project.

Back then the Internet wasn't nearly as big as it is today. Compared to today, almost no one was online back then.

The day after the project, ABC's Nightline had Forest Sawyer do a story on the project. He said:

Let's be honest about this. For all the talk these days about cyberspace and emails and world wide webs, most of us still have a close, personal electronic relationship with maybe our television and telephone and stereo. Even figuring out something as simple as email is more than we want to tackle. So when an international group of journalists and photographers, computer freaks and engineers banded together to demonstrate how the communications revolution really is changing the world, we figured we'd better be there.

That really isn't the case today. Today almost everyone is online, and it seems like everyone has a MySpace account, is playing online games, and is sharing information.

When I look at this old website (on CD, as the website itself no longer exists), I'm shocked at how good it looks. There are photos (there are over 200), stories that go along with them, and audio links (which are also included on the CD). There are six different story categories:

  1. The Human Touch
  2. Open for Business
  3. Earthwatch
  4. To the Rescue
  5. Sex, Lies, Websites
  6. Into the Light

All amazing stories and pictures about how people's life's had been changed by the Internet.

What has really changed over the course of the last ten years on the Net?

We have better search engines, a lot more online stores, videos and music on demand, Flash based games, and a lot more people.

But really, not a whole lot has changed in the last ten years - just higher system requirements to run the really bloated software that all of these companies keep shoving down our throats.

Why? Well we all know that the bottom line is money. If everyone could be using 10-year-old machines without any problems, computer makers would go out of business.

It occurs to me that old computers run just fine when it comes to everything but the Internet. Text based browsers work fine, but browsers like Internet Explorer 5 and Netscape 4.7 (and even iCab 3, which remains in development) don't render pages correctly these days.

But for the time being, old browsers work well enough that you can make out most web pages.

I'm about to start a new project, and I'm inviting everyone that reads this article to join me. For one week, I'm going to use nothing but my old Power Mac 6500 with IE 5.1 and iCab 3 for browsing and all my other tasks (at least the ones that can be done easily).

I didn't have too many problems with my PowerBook 170 and WannaBe (see 30 Days of Old School Computing), so this should be somewhat easy.

Once again, thanks for your support, and if you have any suggestions, please feel free to email them to me. LEM

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