Twenty years ago today, NPR staff member Dennis Fuze excitedly introduced his colleagues to something called “Internet” in a memo that seems far more comical today than he could have imagined then.
Archival Twitter account @nprchives has the full memo, which must have been issued by some technological means other than email, considering it explains the basic concept of email in a rather elementary fashion. “Internet is coming to NPR!” it begins:
20 years ago, today: Internet is coming to NPR! pic.twitter.com/5wYwYyQNUH— nprchives (@nprchives) April 28, 2014
“A code of ‘netiquette’ exists among users and within user groups, but otherwise, you pay your money, find your niche and take your chances,” Fuze reports. He goes on to explain this new-fangled communication tool called “EMAIL”—it’s “very similar to our own VAXmail”—and invites employees to fill out an “Internet Account Application Form” and attend a one-hour training session in order to be granted access to the World Wide Web.
Fuze’s memo is a golden artifact from a fleeting cultural moment scientists identify as “1994,” when the Internet was big enough to land on the cover of TIME Magazine but confounding enough that most adults only vaguely understood what it was. Such is the only time that could have produced footage like this 1994 Today Show segment, wherein we learn that the Internet is “like a computer billboard” that’s apparently getting bigger and bigger:
While we’re at it, let fifth graders from the following year set you straight
If only computer users of the modern world were still required to attend a one-hour training session before logging on.