The Year Of The Internet

Remember when surfing was something you did outdoors, in a bathing suit? That was 1994. Now it's what you do on the Internet--the worldwide network of computers that in 1995 was embraced as the medium that will change the way we communicate, shop, publish and (so the cybersmut cops warned) be damned. Suddenly the biggest companies in America were tearing up business plans and betting billions of dollars on the future of the Net, as techno-mania drove the stock market over 5000 and produced unheard-of valuations for companies like Netscape, the maker of the "browser" that taught millions to love cyberspace.

You couldn't even follow the year's other big stories without tripping over the Net: Newt was online, as were the gun nuts charged with the Oklahoma City bombing, the loudest anti-Bosnia cranks and every opinion on the O.J. verdict. Never mind that the Net is still saddled with problems of slowness, security, under regulation and potential overload, or that nine of 10 Americans have yet to log on. In 1996, maybe they will.