Saturday, March 29, 2014

Happy 20th Internet Anniversary, Philippines

March 29, 2014, Manila
It was twenty years ago today when the Philippines was officially connected to the Internet. It was way beyond what BBS and AppleLink offered me back then. However, the technology was ancient compared to what we have today. 

My introduction to the Internet
I started working with USIA-RSC Manila in October 1994, upon the invitation of Dave Zweigel of PhilMUG. My American supervisor, Charles Gardner, will end his tour of duty in a year and I was hired to manage the computer system when he returns to Washington. It was that simple, I thought. I did not expect that something big was heating up.
I have no experience with the Internet prior to RSC. However, Charles was one of the early advocates of local Internet, and so was Dave. They taught me what I need to know to get started on the Internet since that is part of my job. I learned about email, ftp, and http. Creating web pages was hard coded using a text editor. There were no digital cameras, only scanners. Uploading the html files and pictures were done via ftp.
Our office was connected to the Internet via dial-up to Mozcom and I was given my own mozcom account. There was nothing much on the web back then, and most of my after office time was spent on mailing lists and talkers.
The connection
To be connected at home, you needed a phone line and a modem to connect your computer. Speed was 14.4 kbps and 28.8 kbps was considered fast. I got my own telephone because I was being cut whenever someone uses the phone in our house. Internet connection was metered too.
Chat Manila Talker
Mozcom hosted the Chat Manila talker, with most local chatters connecting via Mozcom and Cybernet Live. There were students from universities like La Salle, Notre Dame of Gensan, Ateneo de Zamboanga, and Saint Louis Baguio. Those connecting from abroad were from schools in Canada and the United States including Alaska and Guam. You use telnet to login to the chat server. It was social networking circa 1994.

I discovered Chat Manila in late December 1994 or January 1995. It got an excuse to practice my webpage creation skills. I created a website for Chat Manila chatters, and people from around the world were sending me pictures to scan and upload to the website. I believe it was one of the first website from the Philippines. By this time, I have discovered Claris HomePage for creating web pages. There was no CMS back then, and all pages must be created individually.

Soon we were organizing eyeballs every time someone from abroad comes to Manila for vacation. We even had eyeballs in Cebu. Chatters were always looking forward to pictures posted the next day. There was no Friendster or Facebook yet for posting pictures and status updates.

I retired the website in 1998, but some of my chat mates are now my friends in Facebook.