>Recently, I was reminiscing with someone at a party about the early days of the internet. When I went off to pursue my bright future at NYU way back in 1994, the internet barely existed. Checking email was possible for the masses with limited understanding of technology (aka "magic" or "sorcery")through AOL, CompuServe, and Prodigy, two out of three which didn't make it past those heady early days. College students with access to computers could use some sort of complicated system known as PINE to link up to text-based email and possibly even the "internet."
(Side story: Husband recently went to a 10 year anniversary celebration of an investing club that he helped found while an undergrad. At the event, current students pulled up the clubs first website, designed by Husband. His chest puffed with pride.
"I did that!" he thought.
Then the students pulled up the current website, and projected it side-by-side with Husband's creation.
"Look at this!" they snorted derisively with laughter.
Husband sulked. "It was great for its time!")
Anyway, one of the great things about PINE was that you could "finger" people. While fingering people sounds full of illicit fun, really it meant that you typed FINGER then someone's email exchange, and the system magically told you where that person was currently logged in! Such as, "sreis = cubicle 2, 3rd North." The precision! If only the FBI or CIA had such intricate location services, perhaps we could have verified Saddam's spider hole months before snitches gave him up. (Or figured out that there were no WMD over there. Oh wait - most of us already knew that.)
Sniggering aside, we marveled at fingering others, the sophisticated stalking tool of 1994. Of course, it was utterly useless if the person you wanted to find was not logged into the system, but then you could amuse yourself by typing a vague FINGER and getting a list of everyone currently logged in! Sometimes, that was a whopping 36 people. Craziness.