March 17th, 2021

Do you remember the first time you used the web?

One sunny afternoon in 1994, my dad picked me up from school and brought me to his office, an advertising agency on the 14th floor of a nondescript glass cube in downtown Portland. He sat me down in front of his computer, woke it from a dream of flying toasters, and double clicked an icon labeled Mosaic. I was 11 years old.

"It's called the World Wide Web," my dad explained. "It's like HyperCard," something I'd played with often enough at home on our family's Mac SE/30. "Click the underlined words and you go to a new place."

Before me, through a quarter inch of CRT glass, I saw the logo of my favorite federal space agency embossed into a faux stone block. Below it, a dozen or so links to NASA's earliest internet offerings, including some classic astronomy photos and a dry letter from the administrator welcoming me to a new digital frontier (or something). I started clicking and before I knew it the sun had gone down and my dad had to physically pry me away from the keyboard. Every day following that one, using a computer that wasn't connected to the web felt like trying to fly a kite in still air.