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7 Things You've Forgotten About the Old Days of the Internet

What do you do now when you want to go on the internet? Click the browser on your phone? Open your laptop and click on any number of icons to launch your search? Click on your mail program (probably without even entering a password) to see your most recent unread messages appear in seconds?

And what did you have to do to get on the internet 20 years ago? Hmmm? How quickly we forget how complicated life used to be. There actually was a time when we didn't rely on the internet to live our lives. It was a nice perk, a great way to waste time, and a source of (limited) entertainment. But it was simply too clunky to really play a significant part in our day-to-day lives.

Here are some very important — or at least fun — things about the internet that you might have put out of your head, the way you put that dot matrix printer in the dumpster years ago.

7. "You've got mail!"

For those of us who got the AOL CD and uploaded the software (and then paid the monthly fee for it), there were few things better than hearing those three beautiful words: "You've got mail!" Conversely, it was incredibly depressing to go through the whole log-in process only to find that there was no new mail waiting to be read. There were times when that the little man in the sign-on screen seemed to run and run forever, without reaching the "connected" window. It was torture, because all you really wanted was to get to that beloved mailbox to see all of those emails in bold (most of them spam) and to hear the upbeat voice of the email man announce your good fortune.

6. Friendster

Before MySpace, before Facebook, before Twitter there was Friendster. How embarrassing, when you think about it, that everyone whose profile you clicked on could see that you were stalking them. That didn't seem to stop us from checking out the pages of friends, and friends of friends, whose carefully curated profiles featured only a couple of pictures and some witty quotes. This was long before the days of a "news feed" or any type of interaction beyond a private message. Bonus points if Friendster led to a romantic connection with someone you might have otherwise never met.

5. Chat rooms

It seems incredibly creepy nowadays, but there actually was a time when chat rooms were totally the norm. Have an hour and want to discuss food or dogs or politics or your favorite color? Find the chat room that's right for you, create some fun handle, and go to town. No one ever knew if the people in the chat room were the age or sex that they claimed — or if they were serial killers searching for their next victim. It was just good old risky internet fun!