Back in the rampup days of the internet, computers were very expensive and hard to comeby for many people. So someone came up with a combination of tv and the internet called Web(Later MSN)Tv.
You connected a set top box to your television set and through the local ISP, got a stripped down version of the internet. For someone whose only access to the internet was through the local college library, getting the internet at home without limitations was a thrill. No more sitting around until closing time or waiting for a terminal to be freed up. I could now get internet at home in my warm jammies, and when the internet wasn’t all that, get some tv as well.
A most poignant memory was watching tv at home when the twin towers fell, and then getting on the internet side to discuss what I saw in the various discussion groups. We grieved and talked in a new virtual way.
WebTV was fun, although a lot of the internet was inaccessible to us-pages too large, scripts that didn’t work. We had our own gated community of newsgroups to discuss topics, innovators who helped us build web pages, and even a few hackers.
But for me the most missed-and memorable thing about WebTv was the music. The minute you logged on for the day, you could get this wonderful background music that ran while you surfed the web. No, it didn’t interfere with audio from other websites (and a lot of pre-youtube sites had midis as background).
Here are, thanks to YouTube, the sounds we listened to on our boxes:
So thank you, WebTv. Thanks to you, I was able to put a cheap and easy toe into the waters of the internet.
In 2006, I finally got that computer. WebTV was still a thing, but I wanted to do more than just surf, and I could already see the end coming. Many people were beginning to get computers of their own, broadband was coming, and cable tv had better offerings. I remembered that there was a guy down the street from me who fixed computers. I had a hunch that it was like dry cleaning: sometimes people never picked up stuff. He had a computer that had just gone past the 30 day mark for pickup-and that was it.