Way back when I was in college at St. Ben’s, during the years 1989-1993, I noticed these strange computer-looking things in the library. I must have asked someone what they were all about, because the next thing I knew, I had a VAX account and was telling all my friends on campus to get one too. My friend Lynn and I used to sit with our backs to each other in the library, each at a terminal, and we “talked”. It was a precursor to chat, and probably explains a lot of why my computing patterns are much closer to the Millenials than to those of the the Gen-Xers.
At any rate, I decided that my best friend Nan, who went to college way off in snowy central New York (at Colgate) needed to get an account of her own, so we could chat without racking up big phone bills. Mind you, this was in the days when you couldn’t get a cell phone account with 400 minutes plus free nights and weekends for $35/month… So she got an account, and we began emailing. But we never could figure out how to make “talk” work, so I got her boyfriend to get an account, give me his login information, and I connected to their system from central Minnesota using his credentials, and we chatted. So clever… and probably pretty illegal. Oh well – we didn’t hurt anyone at the time, did nothing malicious to the systems, and saved ourselves some money. I wish I could remember what my user name was then.
I do know that a couple of years later, when I started grad school at Syracuse’s IST, I was poking around in systems in similar ways, trying to make sense of the architecture of the internet. I got my first non-school email account in 1996, right after finishing my MLS. It was the hotmail account that I’ve been using ever since then. Imagine, I’ve had the same free email account for almost 10 years now! I’ve had that account for as long as I lived in my hometown of Aitkin, MN. And that’s the longest I’ve ever done any one thing.