Elder redditors, at the dawn of the internet what was popular digital slang and what did it mean?
By - alejuego
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The LOL tail rotor always cracked me up
You could watch Hackers and see all the old lingo in use. God, that film was hilarious even back then
That film is a classic and I love it. Roller blading web vigilantes hacking the mainframe with floppy disks
Me too. I’ve worked in infosec for 20 years & I still don’t dress that cool.
It was pretty kewl.
or if you were REALLY kewl:
I said pwned in 2006 way too many times.
"This site is under construction" = 'Oh, spinning animated construction signs! That'll make up for my half-assed attempt at an Evangelion fan page!"
Warning: this site uses frames
omg, frames. We had a website that we used at work that used frames that we only got rid of last year. The replacement has about as many things it does better as it does worse, but at least we're rid of frames.
Not really slang, but I wanted to share a fond memory your question reminded me of.
Downloading (illegal) songs, but the title/artist/album would all be wrong. It lead to quite a few situations where I loved a song but had no idea what it was really called because someone messed up the file name.
Brittany_Spears_-Genie_in_a_Bottle(nude music video).M4A
System Of A Down - The Legend of Zelda
LINK! HE COME TO TOWN! HE COME TO SAVE, THE PRINCESS ZELDA! GANNON TAKE HER AWAY NOW THE CHILDREN DON'T PLAY, BUT THEY WILL WHEN LINK SAVE THE DAY, HALLELUJAH!!!
Any remotely funny song was credited to Weird Al.
All funny songs are by Weird Al. All funny quotes are by Mark Twain or Ben Franklin. All CGI is by Pixar.
DisturbedSlipknotKorn - Blood in My Eyes
It was performed by a group called Dimestore Hoods, which I only found out in the last few years, and was able to listen to it again.
It doesn't really sound like any of the bands it was tagged as but it's my fuckin jam nonetheless.
Also literally every parody was credited to weird al.
There were a bunch of variations basically for "There's a parent in the room, act cool!". I don't remember any of them now. I still love BRB!
lol I remember this. I think one was something like POS? Parent over shoulder? Haven't even thought of this in years.
Iirc it was PLOS
we used POTS lol. someone would type POTS and we'd immediately spam a bunch of random messages or something to flood the screen so the "incriminating" messages on top would dissappear from view. good times.
BRB went because now you carry the internet to the toilet
Brb still lives on when taking a shower
And driving the car hopefully
Instead of being tricked into seeing Rick Astley, we got tricked into seeing a man's giant, gaping asshole or a woman in a tub shooting a stream of liquid shit into the air.
Or grandpa's blowing each other, and then later a guy that really enjoyed sitting on his jar.
The ukrainian jar gentleman is alive and happy. Also, he went to work soon after taking the video, with only some vodka to dull the pain.
According to him he isn't gay just likes putting stuff up his anus "because it funny".
I still can’t believe he survived that. You could hear the glass crunching around in his asshole as he walked away...
The globs of blood as he pulled it out. Even in 240p that shit stuck with me.
It’s lines like this that makes me glad I’ve only seen the first two seconds before clicking off
Or a gif spinning right round baby right round.
You spin me round round, baby, right round, like a record baby, round round, round round...
You got 32 spins!
I remember sending my now husband one called “taco flutter”. It was a video of a woman naked skydiving, and her labia was flapping around like crazy.
That’s when he KNEW, you were his soulmate.
The term World Wide Web still sounds quite romantic to me. It fills me with nostalgia for the idea that connecting with the rest of the world was this exciting thing.
A similar feeling to looking up at airplanes and wondering where they’re going.
EDIT: Thanks for the awards. I’m aware “www” isn’t the beginning of the internet, but figured I’d mention it anyway since the abbreviation is taken for granted.
Secondly, that flight app people keep linking to. It’s neat but is really antithetical to that sense of wonder I feel forced to covet. If I knew where those planes were going the world would feel a little smaller.
how amazing it is that something that had the power to bring us all together and educate us free of charge has turned into the most depraved propaganda machine alienating us from all of our old friends
It's been a sad devolution as governments and corporations get in and demand their oversized slice of the pie.
1995 Internet: "This is a free unbounded tool for connection and learning. Nobody's really figured it out yet and anything you put here becomes public property, so use it altruistically."
2005 Internet: "Noooo autocracies like China are putting up site blockers, keep the information free!"
2015 Internet: "Every major media corporation is well on its way to introducing its proprietary portal or streaming service, and every major government is playing catch-up to China for its pervasive civilian tracking. The net is becoming a far more effective tool for propagating falsehoods than actually educating people."
The 2025 update is up to us.
Most webpages had a counter that would tell you how many people had been on the page. All the “cool” computer people were “hackers.” Everyone had a bunch of MIDI files for their Geocities or Angelfire webpage. TTFN (ta ta for now). Pwned (came a little later). Meticulously crafting AIM “away messages.” Calling a hyperlink a “hot link.” “You’ve got mail.” Having to look through a webpage’s “index” or “directory.” Using “chat rooms” and AOL “channels.” “Web browser.” “The interwebs.” “Surfin’ the net.” “Defragging” Signing people’s “Guestbook” on their site. “Ask Jeeves.” Kiosk services. “Sorry, I timed out.”
Oh god. Young teenage me remembers the "vaguebooking" of AIM away messages. I had way too many dramatic friends who would use Evanescence or Linkin Park lyrics as their away message.
"Are they really suicidal or are they angsty. Find out in fifteen minutes when they get back from dinner."
It was a big deal to get your crush’s AIM screen name.
Man I forgot about Guestbooks.
In the early days pre-ads you’d put a link banner on the top of your site that would randomize and advertise another person’s site. Forgot what that was called. So simple and innocent.
Actually I think web rings were something else, with structured lists of similar sites you could go back and forth on.
I think some were even fairly "prestigious" to be included in.
Oh, and the awards. So many silly web awards.
Somehow everyone was 18 and either in Florida or Cali.
19, though. Saying exactly "18" seemed suspicious.
And LonelyGirl15 turned out to be a dude.
I was 19M,UK. Didn't understand the username hairybear52 until it was too late and I freaked and pulled the plug thinking I'd done something illegal.
If you're out there big man, I'm sorry, you're just not my type!
I put on my robe and wizard hat.
I haven’t thought about that one in a long time. I’m gonna have to go read it again.
16/f/Cali. (Actually 12/m/Ohio)
(Actually 58/m/FBI Headquarters)
Encarta - an encyclopaedia on several CDs?! Woah, we are really living in the year 3000 now.
Encarta was interactive though. It played relevant music, audio tracks, or video clips. It was awesome!
There was an old “game” in the MS Suite that came with Encarta that put you in like a tavern or something and you could go into different doors and answer trivia questions and learn things. I loved that game. It went the way of clippy ☹️
Edit: Encarta Mind Maze.
I was the original dev for mindmaze, and it still blows my mind when I trip across people who remember this app and start tripping down memory lane. Thank you!
Anybody else remember the old chat messenger service ICQ?
I had mine set to say my name when my online bf signed in and messaged me, had the speakers turned up full, so I could do normal house type stuff (dishes, gardening, TV) but not miss a message from him. We've been married 22 years now irl. Best "a/s/l" ever!
I even remember my number.
I was bummed out when everyone started moving to MSN Messenger, ICQ had so many more features.
I logged on icq a few years ago (fuck, probably >8 years by now) and a few of my friends were still online!
"surfing the net"
I never understood where the whole ocean metaphor for the internet came from...
From channel surfing on TV
"Sneaker net," or the physical transfer of files via drives and disks, has always been a personal favorite.
All your base are belong to us.
>In November 2000, Kansas City computer programmer, Something Awful forum member, and part-time disc jockey Jeffrey Ray Roberts (1977–2011) of the Gabber band the Laziest Men on Mars, made a techno dance track, "Invasion of the Gabber Robots", which remixed some of the Zero Wing video game music by Tatsuya Uemura with a voice-over phrase "All your base are belong to us". Tribal War forums member Bad_CRC in February 2001 created a Flash animation combining Roberts' song and the various images created in a Something Awful AYB Photoshop thread, which proceeded to go viral.
This paragraph from wikipedia has everything.
Pretty much all of the early 2000's internet summed up right there. Wonder if Something Awful still exists.
It does, I logged in with my old account not that long ago to see if it still worked. Crazy to think about how much current internet culture came out of that place
There was lots of virtual slapping of one another with wet fish. You had to be there.
* smacks around a bit with a large trout.*
I must truly be an elder. I thought most of these expressions were still being used!
I refuse to stop using brb and lol
The fuck? Is afk *away from keyboard* out of use too?
afk is mostly used in video games now
Hadn't really thought about how that's still the go-to term even in vr games.
On console too. It's transcended it's literal meaning.
no most of the like core ones are still used, dw
Well thats pretty funny. I know brb, lol, afk, but I don't know dw
everybody still uses those
I remember when you would only get photos of porn and it was so slow it would go line by line and you would see the eyes then the mouth then neck, and then the good stuff. Many time half way threw you would be disappointed because your realized the person was not naked.
I saw some 2 seconds FLVs on a loop for a video in my time, live pr0n baby.
Not slang but:
Modems singing the song of their people everytime you wanted to connect
Think that sound is forever engrained into my mind
I didn't even work at an ISP, but I learnt how to tell if the connection was going to be stable or not and the approximate speed just by listening to the connection handshake.
My dad thought I was bullshitting him, but there were a few small clues in the sound when our old Compaq Presario would log in.
Most indicative was that one of the last bursts of static would very, very slightly rise in pitch at the end if the connection was solid. When it didn't, it'd still connect but you had maybe 2 or 3 minutes...you know...just enough to half load one page.
I'd hear him connect and tell him it was a bad connection.
He wouldn't ever believe me until I was consistently calling it (and not calling it when it didn't happen) for several *months.*
EEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEE OOOOOOOOooooooooOOOOOOO ka_CHONG ka_CHONG Shshshshshshshshshshshshshsh sssssssssssssssss (and Bowwwww Bowwwww for the 56k richies)
WELCOME! You’ve got mail!
PAW- Parents Are Watching
Edit: thought of a couple more which I couldn’t see after skimming the comments:
90s Spotify- “Winamp Winamp. It really whips the llama’s ass.”
This came a bit later.. everyone’s ticket to free WIN XP...
EDIT: For those that haven't realised. You can click on a skin to actually play some songs, including the Llama's ass bit.
Yep, that one brings back memories!
On a BBS ( bulletin board service) you could play rpgs with others called a MUD ( multi user dungeon)
Spent a lot of time on MUDs in the mid 90s. Sat in the computer room at university most nights, mudding. The security guard came on night rounds and started recognizing me. One time he asked what important thing I was working on, that kept me working all night.
The elders won't tell you this, but [bash.org](http://bash.org/?top) is an archive of the sacred texts.
Edit: I feel like Yoda burning down the tree.
You dare show the younglings the ancient texts?
hey, if you type in your pw, it will show as stars
doesnt look like stars to me
thats what I see
you can go hunter2 my hunter2-ing hunter2
haha, does that look funny to you?
lol, yes. See, when YOU type hunter2, it shows to us as \*\*\*\*\*\*\*
thats neat, I didnt know IRC did that
yep, no matter how many times you type hunter2, it will show to us as \*\*\*\*\*\*\*
wait, how do you know my pw?
er, I just copy pasted YOUR \*\*\*\*\*\*'s and it appears to YOU as hunter2 cause its your pw
I still use hunter2 as a made up password in tests.
Great, you took it down with a single reddit comment.
This used to be such a good source of entertainment. My husband and I still mention hunter2 a lot.
The good old days spent on IRC trying to get newbies to quit unexpectedly.
> Yeah the shortcut key to slap someone with a trout is Alt+F4
> ** Schmoe has disconnected
I completely forgot about slapping people with trouts. Good times.
"I put on my robe and wizard hat" is always a phrase that's going to get me.
"Everyone who likes Michael Jackson press Alt+F4 now!"
1. Michael Jackson was alive and well at the time
2. This was done in chat rooms on AOL and other places, where you could see a list of all the users currently in the group.
3. Alt+F4 is the Windows shortcut to close the currently active window.
So it was a fun way to watch a bunch of people suddenly drop off the list because they unknowingly exited the room.
Hah still in use in some games, like MMOs
"Guys how do I turn off slow walking??" "Alt-F4"
That’s how you replicate items in Runescape. You drop your items and press alt+F4.
I get hit with this day 1 of runescaoe back in the day. Little did he know I was only duping wool for a quest.
There was a weird bug with mIRC on Windows 95 were if you typed \`/con/con \` it would cause a blue screen.
I would go in channels and say "If you want to see brittney spears nude type /con/con" then giggle when I see a list of "user X has disconnected(timed out)"
The early macs anyone could type “+++ATH0” in MIRC and it would disconnect any Mac user.
For the young ones out there, this was a control message that if the modem saw it then it would hang up the phone. Mac modems recognized the message from both directions.
Anyone remember the email footer idea to show technical knowledge and levels with a character then +s to show how strong you were in the tech/knowledge?
WHAT DO YOU MEAN C++++!??!? I thought the maximum was C++
It blew my mind when I found out that C# is C and 4 plus signs.
I worked with a guy who called it "C pound" when it first came out.
geocities and webrings.
Interviewer: how old are you
I was actually like 16/f/Cali at the time and nobody believed me.
You should have flipped it and said 37/M/Indiana
As an early Millennial, many of my earliest and most powerful orgasms can be laid at the hands of Cyber. Thank you, random dude pretending to be a woman.
Reminds me of the 1990s saying:
The Internet, where men are men, women are men, and children are FBI agents.
Gives cyber bullies a whole new meaning
"Cyber Monday" still gives me a chuckle...
Well you couldn't just work on websites or be an HTML coder. If you were into any of that, you were a Webmaster!
“The net” was a big thing. We had internet users (netizens) and expected proper behavior (netiquette). For example, netiquette said you should get permission first before linking to a site. So, email Tim Cook before linking to [Apple.com](https://apple.com).
We didn’t know how to tell people to go to a web site. “Point your browser to” was popular.
There was often confusing whether / or \ was the slash, so folks would often say “point your browser to h-t-t-p colon forward slash forward slash altavista dot com.”
[This video would have been cringy](https://youtu.be/s1_yx_Eg9v4) even back in the 90s, but it will help you see how the internet was really new to folks in the 90s.
Edit: god, that video was awful. Even the kid got tripped up over whether this / is a slash, forward slash, or a backslash…he calls it backslash at one point. Also “surfing the net” was the expression for wasting time.
>There was often confusing whether / or \ was the slash, so folks would often say “point your browser to h-t-t-p colon forward slash forward slash altavista dot com
You forgot, we still made a point of saying "double-you, double-you, double-you dot altavista dot com"
Never assume someone knows to type "www" before the rest of the address.
Kids these days don't know how easy they have it, not having to put in the entire address. And if you didn't know it, you had to type in the full address for Yahoo to search for it. None of this just typing the query into the address bar.
Remember when half the sites you went to didn't have a search function or hyperlinks, so if you wanted to go to a sub site, you had to type the full address?
I still remember most sites having an ugly ass /index.html page that basically gave you a link tree for the entire site.
>h-t-t-p colon forward slash forward slash
Oh shit, I still say it that way, oh how the last ~~25~~ 28 years have flown by
Wow at being called an elder
We should form an elder council.
Those who were born after the days of Napster shall be shunned
As elders of the high council that walked the earth before the coming of the fourth and 20th age of the earth which was the advent of the internet, lets us be chroniclers of this forgotten era and tell of the times of high adventure.
I saw a tiktok of a dad explaining that his daughter had come home and told him and his father about how ‘people in the 1900’s used to watch tv on boxes of tape.’ Took him a few minutes to realize.. vhs tapes. She was talking about vhs tapes.. in the 1900’s..
I remember using text "emoticons" a lot. Like :p
Here's a guy on a skateboard
I really gotta use this more often
There's a rose for you to give to your sweetie!
My rose was @-->-->--- and it was my also my nick on IRC.
Sigh, I AM old.
Being a girl on IRC back then was...something else.
/me slaps you around a bit with a large trout
As a guy who used to be on IRC, I want to say I’m sorry.
As a guy who pretended to be a horny girl on IRC, I also want to say I'm sorry.
<('.'<) (>'.')> <('.')> Kirby dancing!
==b thumbs up
<( ^ (00) ^ )> its a piggy
(o ‘ . ‘ )==O Q(‘ . ‘ o)
I like the casual double flipping you off guy:
Oh my god this was my text message signature before I had a smartphone! I totally forgot about that, along with the fact that text message signatures were a thing.
tryin to make a change :-/
And this is Homer
I still use those...not the skateboard tho
I didn't know 'we' didn't use them any longer.
Sometimes they get converted to graphics, but I generally like the basic look.
:) :( :P :O ;) :'( :D o.0
Then again, I am very old.
Here, have some pop tarts [:::] [:::]
Or pretzels &&&&&
Or maybe some M&Ms? (m) (m) (m)
A beer (_)3 if you were pretending to be older than you were.
Slices of pizza <) <) <)
<°)))) >< fish
Why not Zoidberg? (V)(;,,,;)(V)
Edit: Fixed his right claw. Sorry Zoidberg.
I learned all these playing habbo hotel. What a time to be alive
now that's a name i haven't heard in a long time
(::[ ]::). I remember a bandaid
\*\\o/\* I'm cheering for you
\\o| |o/ \\o| Kermitflail
I still use emoticons a the time, barely use emojis
AOL internet disks, they were a 500, 750 or 1,000 minute trial access to the internet without paying AOL for its services.
My family had internet for about 5 years from so many of those disks
Yep— and with those sweet, *sweet* speeds you could click on a link, go refill your coffee, and come back right as the last, tacky animated gif loaded.
I read somewhere that at one point like 50% of all CD's produced world-wide were for AOL.
I stole one of those disks from the front of a magazine when I was a wee whippersnapper. I was so excited! Got it home, put it in and installed the software but couldn't understand why I couldn't get it working.
I didn't have a modem. I thought installing the software would give me the internet.
The fact that this is a question that can legitimately be asked just aged me by 40 years.
Next year there will be people legally drinking in the United states that were born after 9/11. People born after 9/11 voted this past Presidential election. There are people born during Obama’s presidency that are now in Middle School. 1990 was 31 years ago. We are now closer to the 2050’s than the 1980s.
Shut up. I’ll hear no more of your truths :(
That 70s Show was filmed closer to the 70s than we are to the 90s now.
"Flaming" or "Flame war" when out of control arguments break out. Kind of like "trolling" but the people who started it are serious about what they are saying.
WebCrawler with the big black hairy spider.
"What's your AIM?"
"Do you have an Angelfire? This is mine."
I just have Geocities
I put on my robe and wizard hat ...
I cast Level 3 Eroticism. You turn into a beautiful woman
There is nothing more serious than a rhinoceros about to charge your ass.
Not slang, but in the nascent stages of the internet you would commonly hear "Get off the internet, I need the phone."
The dial up modem on the computer connected through the phone line meaning you couldn't use both simultaneously.
And if your family was hip enough to have the call waiting feature on your landline, you had to add *70 to the beginning of your modem's dialing protocol. Call waiting had to be disabled or an incoming call would interrupt your modem's connection.
Ugh. I hate that this means me. And I hate that I can’t answer because I *don’t remember.*
Who cares, just let everyone else remind you and ride the waves of nostalgia
I’ve been online since 1995 and I can say with confidence that the vast majority of slang from back then is still around today.
If you young Redditors were to fall into the Wayback Machine to the mid-90s you would understand 90% of the jargon.
Speaking of jargon, for the really really old stuff find a copy of the Hacker’s Jargon File.
We were already saying things like:
It is worth mentioning even we “olds” didn’t invent most of these phrases, they came from various other comms technologies before us like Ham Radio, Telex, and Telegraph.
The only things I can remember right now that we don’t do anymore is:
- a/s/l or ASL
- Warez Kid c.1980s/1990s
- AOL 1995
- USENET 1996
- IRC 1997
people used to say rofl a lot more.
ASL was a thing. Dont see that anymore. If someone asks you "ASL?", it's safe to assume they're in their early to mid 30s or beyond.
most of the slang from the early days is still applicable, but where slang starts to diverge is the influence of imageboard culture in the early 2000's. The web back in the day was mainly just chatting and sharing pictures. Was really more of a safe haven for reserved nerdy dudes and just a place to check your email when people actually started using email.
My grandmother still uses AOL I think.
edit: apparently people on Omegle still use ASL.
Flame War was a term essentially for a bunch of people trolling the shit out of each other, but with like...real vindictiveness
The flames never died, they were just renamed and mostly moved to twitter.
I made you a cookie but I eated it
I dunno if it's slang, more like a saying that means nothing.
Also I just remembered elaborate custom forum signature banners. Pics of edgy stuff with a quote and perhaps your name.
Long ago, when the Internet was just some obscure DARPA project, a BBS (bulletin board system) was a proto-website accessed via a modem and phone lines. I wrote my first BBS on an Apple II+ around 1985, in BASIC.
You should be asking about the MEMES at the dawn of the internet. Much more interesting.
I got online in 97. The online slang is basically still the same with only a few exceptions, like cybering is called sexting now. Same acronyms and everything, for the most part, we just have some new ones now too.
DOS attacks were originally called nukes. It was very easy to get someone's ip address and nuke them with a simple, easy to find program, bumping them offline or even causing their pc to shutdown.
I never heard gif pronounced with a hard g, as in gift, until the mid to late 00s. It was always a soft g before.
We wrote kewl, instead of cool, for some reason I don't recall. We thought we were l33t (elite).
You downloaded one song at a time, and it took hours. It was around 2000 when our internet got fast enough to download movies, and it still took days. The quality was shit. Not even standard def. Just cams. They weren't torrents; you downloaded files directly from another person's computer, no seeding or anything. Mp3s wouldn't play on my PC so I had to use RealPlayer files. I made a script that announced what song I was playing in the chatroom.
If someone picked up the phone, you lost your connection and had to start your downloads over.
White House dot com was porn. Most of us discovered this while trying to write an essay about the federal government or a president or something.
Porn was everywhere. Child porn was everywhere. You could do a search for something innocent, click around "surfing the net" (which we don't really say anymore), and suddenly, boom, child porn. There were a ton of child porn swap rooms on the chat program I first used, mIRC. (I was 11.)
You sent enemies a link to goatse.cx. If you know, you know. If you don't know, you don't want to.
Everyone had a Geocities or Angelfire. We called it Geoshitties. Before LiveJournal and other social media, there was Diaryland.
My first modem was 28.8 bps. I remember when we upgraded to 56k and when we got our first cable modem. Today I get 400+ mbps!