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Harry Mount: the internet entered the public domain 30 years ago today

Blog | By Harry Mount | May 01, 2023

Tim Berners-Lee allowed the internet into the public domain, free, today in 1993. What was life like before then, in that prehistoric age? Harry Mount remembers

1. Humans managed to sustain three-hour dinners with uninterrupted conversation.

2. People had fewer friends but they were people they had actually talked to.

3. There was a nightly fight over the landline in your house.

4. You went out with people you had actually met in the flesh before.

5. Babies touched their mothers’ faces more than they touched screens.

6. It was television that rotted children’s brains.

7. People managed to read through whole newspapers; sometimes even whole books, it's said.

8. You booked the first recognisable airline you could find in Yellow Pages (a big feature of pre-internet life), rung up the airline and paid an arm and a leg for it.

9. The high street was still in decline then but it was being destroyed by out-of-town supermarkets.

10. Newsagents did a roaring trade selling magazines on their hardest-to-reach shelves.