The author has been online for a long, long time. In the lath 1980s, she noodled around with the old "walled garden" services, such as CompuServe and Prodigy. And, in work-related instances, she did some Dialog searching via an acoustic coupler. In 1991, she got a login on the Florida Information Resource Network (FIRN). This was the "real" Internet, although it was more or less buried beneath a clunky shell that would only let you do a few things -- among them, subscribe to a vast array of email lists, most controlled by the LISTSERV email management software. She absolutely loved getting all that email. She logged out of FIRN, logged back in again, and experimented with different key combinations until she found the magic formula that made the clunky shell go away.
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