If you are old enough (and lucky enough) to have had the Internet in the nineties, you probably have the ringing sound "pshhhkkkkkkrrrrkackingkackingkackingtshchchchchchchch cch ding ding ding" seared into your mind for all time.
For those too young, that was the noise of you dialing into the Internet. It was the first step of the painful process of attempting to view a website, any website. Not even Netlfix, merely an image could take minutes to load.
Wait for it...
Then, if somebody in your household needed to use the telephone at the same time (possibly the big spinny wheel rotary dial telephone these teenagers are struggling to use in the "hilarious" video below that made me crumble into dust) that was it, no more Internet for you. Somehow by the 1990s humanity had progressed to the point that we'd developed rockets, nuclear power, and even the Spice Girls but not far enough to be able to use the Internet and a phone at the same time.
They were truly dark days, when even a 28.8Kbps modem could set you back around $520. I do not want to go back there, except maybe to give a few warnings about getting too close to coughing bats.
If you're young, however, and would like to experience the slow, slow Internet speeds that we were used to back in the '90s, you are in luck. A new website simulates the painful experience so you can.
"One thing most websites try to do is try to serve you the page as fast as possible. So I’ve decided to do the opposite. I’ve made a (toy) webserver which goes as slow as humanly possible," creator Terence Eder explained in a blog post. You can check it out at https://slowww.ml/, but as Eder says, you’ll need to be patient.
"This delivers a page at about 175 bits per second. Yes, bits. Not bytes," Eder wrote. "It is deliberately set to be about as fast as an adult human can read. Why do you need your pages delivered any faster than you can read?"
If you want to see more of the early Internet.
The project certainly delivers an authentic experience of image loading, as well as explaining how it all works, and is well worth an absurd amount of your time. Eder said that he initially wanted to use it as a HTML teaching aide, before deciding to make it an exercise in frustration instead.
"Can slowing things down make the web calmer and less distracting? Will it become a more thoughtful place to engage in dialogue? That sounds nice," he said. "Most likely, lockdown has sent me gently loopy."