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8 things you’ll only understand if you were born before the internet

8 things you’ll only understand if you were born before the internet

Posted 01st August, 2022 by Sarah

Today is World Wide Web Day - an annual event in which the world celebrates the invention of the world’s first web browser and web page editor – the WorldWideWeb.

Invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 and made available to the public in 1991, the browser and the technology that underlaid it led to the development and proliferation of the internet as we know it today.

After the release of the WorldWideWeb browser, the world changed dramatically. We started communicating, socialising, learning and working differently.

In this blog, we take a nostalgic look back at the ways we lived our lives before the internet made its mark.

1. We found love through Lonely Hearts columns

Lonely Hearts

Long before Tinder and Bumble and co were even a twinkle in their founders’ eyes, the world tried to find their matches by putting ads in newspapers. The language used in the ads wasn’t actually all that dissimilar to the language that’s used in internet communications today. There were lots of acronyms like WLTM (would like to meet) and GSOH (good sense of humour). The plus side, however, was that you couldn’t put unsolicited photos in the Lonely Hearts sections.

2. We had pen pals

In the absence of emails and instant messages, people wrote letters to their friends. They wrote using patterned stationery, matching envelopes, and coloured Bic pens. Then they put stamps – which weren’t even self-adhesive in 1991 – on envelopes and posted them into letter boxes and patiently waited for a response.

3. We played Subbuteo

Multiplayer gaming has changed beyond recognition since the internet was invented. Forget FIFA, back in the late 80s and early 90s, the multiplayer game of choice was Subbuteo – a tabletop football game where you had to move your plastic football team around a fabric pitch by flicking the players.

4. We put shoes on to socialise

Pre-internet people had to leave the house to see their friends so shoes were a must. The footwear of choice in the late 80s and early 90s included jellies, Doc Martens and Air Jordans.

5. We faxed


Before emails existed, businesses sent quick-smart communications via fax machines. The user posted a piece of paper into the top of one machine and the message on the paper was printed onto a new piece of paper somewhere else in the world.

6. We looked up phone numbers in the Yellow Pages

Every year there would be a great thud in your hallway as the half-tonne-heavy Yellow Pages dropped through your letter box. This hulking directory was filled with the phone numbers of everyone from plumbers to your mother’s friend Mary who lived around the corner. When people found a number they needed, they’d write it down for safekeeping in an alphabetised address book.

7. We ordered catalogues

When people couldn’t get to the high street pre-internet they ordered catalogues and spent hours perusing the pages filled with models in shoulder pads and washed jeans. The highlight of the year, though, was when the Argos catalogue turned up at Christmas, giving children the opportunity to choose ALL the toys they wanted Santa to bring them.

8. We collected trolls rather than reported them

Troll Gc82B87472 1920

In the late 80s and early 90s, the world went crazy for trolls – collectable plastic figures with broad noses and rainbow-coloured hair. You could get them in all sorts of sizes and with all sorts of costumes and they were far more preferable to the online trolls of today.

Have your own memories from the pre-internet world?

Tell us about them on our social media channels.

Or, if you’d rather look forward rather than backwards, and need to set up a new website, buy a new domain name, or need a server, visit our website, where you’ll find everything you need to get online and grow there.

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