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    21 Times People Used The Internet Before It Was Invented

    Ever feel like the Internet has been around forever? Turns out you were right.

    1. Over 400 years before Facebook, German college students had a social network called the Book of Friends.

    Koninklijke Bibliotheek / Via

    Each time you met someone, you'd request to add them to your book – along with any random advice, quotes or pics they wanted to share.

    2. In the 18th century, people looked at the world through real-life Instagram filters.


    The Claude Glass was a darkened mirror used to make scenery look warmer and softer, like a landscape painting.

    3. These English aristocrats were sexting each other 250 years before Snapchat.

    Wikipedia; Barton Galleries / Via

    Lady Grosvenor and her bae wrote their love letters in invisible ink, with strict instructions to burn after reading. It didn't work – the letters were intercepted and published, causing a huge scandal.

    4. Rembrandt's selfie game was off the charts.


    The 17th century Dutch painter created nearly 100 self-portraits.

    5. People were totally obsessed with GIFs in the 19th century.

    Check out more of these phenakistocopes – an early animation technique – in the Richard Balzer Collection.

    6. Cat pictures with hilarious captions also became popular.

    7. Emoticons were first used in 1881.

    8. Singles were hooking up online over a century before OKCupid.


    19th century office workers often used the telegraph network – which has been called the Victorian Internet – to find romance.

    9. Ancient Greeks were using tablets over 2000 years before the iPad.

    Römisch-Germanisches Museum / Via

    Wax tablets were the must-have mobile gadget of the ancient world, used for everything from doing business to reading the news.

    10. The Roman emperor Severus built an early version of Google Maps on the side of a temple.


    The incredibly detailed map showed the locations of apartments, shops and brothels – and even included internal floor plans.

    11. This guy was sending nasty tweets long before Twitter.


    The Roman poet Martial loved writing obscene insults in 140 characters or less. Like this one, about somebody with bad breath: “Your puppy licks your mouth and lips, Manneia. I'm not surprised, dogs love eating shit." (Epigrams, 1.83)

    12. The ancient city of Pompeii had its own version of Grindr.

    Via Flickr: rollercoasterphilosophy

    Dudes who liked dudes would scratch graffiti (NSFW) on the walls of the town to offer and ask for sex – and boast about their abilities.

    13. Sir Hans Sloane was collecting and sharing random-ass stuff over 300 years before Pinterest.

    14. Tourists were giving hilariously bad reviews to everything long before Yelp and TripAdvisor.


    Murray's Hand-Book was an early travel guide renowned for its harsh critiques of hotels, tourist attractions and even churches ("Ugly spire", said one review.)

    15. In the Renaissance, an engineer called Ramelli invented the bookwheel – a sort of gigantic Kindle.

    16. Norwegians were carving secrets onto these sticks 800 years before Yik Yak and Whisper.


    The rune sticks were used to record all kinds of messages – including confessions of secret crushes, as new media researcher Kathi Berens explains.

    17. 3D printing was invented in 1859.

    Collection Henri Koilski / Via

    The complicated technique, which required 24 cameras taking a photo at once, was called "photosculpture".

    18. Johann Zedler used crowdfunding to publish this encyclopedia 280 years before Kickstarter.

    19. Thomas Jefferson used a pedometer to count his steps over 200 years before Fitbit.

    20. 700 years before Google, philosopher Ramon Llull invented a gadget for finding the answer to almost anything.


    By rotating the three paper wheels, you'd supposedly gain access to all possible truths in your area of interest.

    21. And Japanese author Sei Shonagon was writing listicles 1000 years before BuzzFeed.


    Her famous Pillow Book includes 164 lists, such as "Things That Make One's Heart Beat Faster", "Things That Are Unpleasant To Hear" and "Things That Should Be Short".