36 Things Your Parents Called the Internet

College students: Your parents probably referred to the Internet as a Global Data Highway when you were a kid.

The World Wide Web turns 25 on March 12, 2014. Researchers from the Pew Internet Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet project, have compiled some fascinating bits of history to help celebrate the web’s silver anniversary.

Among them is a collection of predications about the future of the Internet, collected between 1990 and 1995. This 1993 quote from Larry Landwehr is perhaps as telling as any statement ever made about the Internet. Its sentiment holds true for the future as well:

It's like trying to predict back in 1910 the impact of the automobile on society - the highway system, gasoline refineries, motels instead of hotels, new dating patterns, increased social mobility, commuting to work, the importance of the rubber industry, smog, drive-thru restaurants, mechanized warfare, and on and on. The net will bring more than quantitative changes, it will bring "qualitative" changes. Things that were impossible will now become inevitable.

In addition to quoting thought leaders from the 1990s, Elon published a humorous list of synonyms for “Internet.” College students, this is how your parents referred to the web when you were a kid:

  • Bulletin Board Systems
  • Computer-Mediated Communication
  • Computer-Supported Cooperative Work
  • Cyberspace
  • Cybersphere
  • Cyberculture (and many other words with "cyber")
  • Data Highway
  • Digital Culture
  • Digital Counterculture
  • Electronic Bulletin Board
  • Electronic Information System
  • Electronic Mail Systems
  • Electronic Meeting Systems
  • Electronic Publishing
  • E-mail
  • Global Data Highway
  • I-bahn
  • Infobahn
  • Information Highway
  • Information Superhighway
  • Intergalactic Computer Network
  • Internet
  • MOO (MUD - Object-Oriented)
  • MUD (Multi-User Domain)
  • MUG (Multi-User Game)
  • National Information Infrastructure
  • Newsgroup
  • Net
  • Network(ing)
  • Networked Communications
  • Network Information Infrastructure
  • Online (this includes anything online - online education, online business, etc.)
  • Virtual Communities
  • Web
  • World Wide Web
  • WWW

Check out the Imagining the Internet project for more web history.

Filip_Krstic/ThinkStock
Mar 04 2014

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