We know the computer/online world moves fast. But there was a time when it was slower yet moved faster.

How can that be? If you were online in the days when everyone had a dial-up modem, then you know how. All the BBS’s and proprietary networks were text-based, and that text scrolled up the screen without a stop.

Well, unless you used ctrl-Q and ctrl-S (hey, remember those commands?) to pause or resume the flow. At 300 baud, reading was easy. When speeds picked up to 1200 and beyond, those pause/resume commands sure became necessary.

And I think that’s the main reason why I still think of the ‘net as being static, even after all these years. There was an immediacy to the scrolling text that pages just don’t have. Even if I was reading last night’s board messages, the streaming text just seemed more “now”.

On the other hand, with “static” (so to speak) pages, the dial-up modems are at something of a disadvantage. Especially really slow ones. Ones like, say, an Acoustic Coupler Modem circa 1964, running at a spiffy 300 baud.

Would it even work? Is there anyone daring enough to attempt the ‘net at that speed? And could you read War and Peace while a page loaded? Why not find out, by visiting mentalfloss.com and seeing the modem in action (or inaction?). Now, that’s retro!

Surfing the Web at 300 Baud