The first time I remember using the Internet was the summer of 1996. I'd just turned 13 and my parents had sent me to spend two months split between my brothers (who were both in late 20s). Neither knew what to do with a teen girl, so voila! The set me up with an AOL account and I can remember listening to the modem connect and watching the logo show me the connection speed of 28k (SO FAST OMG). They introduced me to MUDs [multi-user dungeons] on AOL, which led to Yahoo! Chat, which led to me staying up until 3am every night for the next month tentatively learning the ropes of online RPGs. There was also a lot of Elfwood and Geocities quote lists.
Good times, good times.
I spent a lot of time on Sailor Moon related Geocities websites. Yeah, that's right.
My dad and I used to visit Doctor Who message boards when I was 12 (so this was 1995). I guess they were usenet newsgroups, although I'm not positive. I remember they were text only, and we could chat live with other people about Doctor Who, which I thought was pretty amazing at the time. I know for one we had to enter our ages, and we entered "43 and 12."
My first internet was dialup local BBSes where I chatted with my friends and played text based RPG games. This was like 1993-1995 (I was 11 when I started). I met my first internet friends from the D.C. BBS "International House of Kumqauts" at a They Might Be Giants show. It was my first show. My mom would let me go hang out with them but she would stay in her car parked a few yards away to make sure none of them killed me. Later, I also used Prodigy Online and got a "job" as a trivia host and a moderator of the "Disney Fans Bulletin Board." I was 14, so this was like 1996.
I'm too young to remember a time before the Internet, but I do remember that my first web experiences were defined by two things: 1) the horrorcore ripping noise that represented a modem blindly groping for the Internets, and 2) waiting. We take for granted now the aggressive and instantaneous speed with which everything happens online — I mean, I take everything about the Internet for granted — but back in the day, booting up my family's Gateway PC or whatever that white plastic box was, I associated "surfing the Web" with sitting and staring at an incomplete screen.
I remember spending a lot of time on Netscape.com. At the time, it felt like that was the entire internet. Eventually, someone turned me onto a Myst-style HTML game that let you wander around ancient Rome, which seemed like the height of technology.
I first went on AOL; I don't think I really understood that a website was necessarily something separate from the AOL portal itself. Most of the online stuff I did would be like going around the different AOL areas and chat rooms. Sometimes adults would say gross things and I would be absolutely shocked. I didn't really use email at all.
Must have been 199...4? 5? A friend and I commandeered our school's lone Internet-connected computer during "library time." Neither of us really knew how the real Internet worked (I'd been on a CompuServ portal once, sort of, over my dad's shoulder), so I just clicked on the Netscape icon and started typing. I remember entering "hootieandtheblowfish" in the address bar and getting nothing. My friend Justin (who I haven't spoken to in years but probably just got "acquhired" by Google or something, dunno, too scared to check Facebook) added a .com that got us somewhere. It wasn't anywhere useful. No Hootie. So then I just gave up on the internet until about 1998.
I don't know the precise first web site I ever visited, but I remember the first website I went to obsessively — Nintendo's. I loved Nintendo and all I wanted to do was consume as much Nintendo as possible. And suddenly here was this other way I get could more Nintendo. I think this was in 1996, right before the N64 was going to launch. The site was rarely updated, but I never really seemed to care. I'd go over to my friend Louis's house because I didn't get a computer until 1997, and we'd go to Nintendo.com. The first site I went to on my very own computer, though? Had to be AOL. Of course.