You may think that the web has evolved at breakneck speeds over the past decade and a half, but Jared Newman over at Technologizer has a first-hand document showing that the early Internet wasn't all that different from today's. While at his folks' house in Connecticut for the weekend, Newman came across a high-school handout from 1996 explaining the advantages and disadvantages of using that newfangled "Internet" everybody was talking about. So what was the Internet circa 1996 like? Well, at least in terms of how people used it, it doesn't sound all that different from what we have in 2011.
Clearly, the reasons people use the Internet haven't changed much since 1996. Access to news, weather, video, pictures, maps, stores, games, and friends--it's all there listed there under "Advantages." (However, no one uses chat rooms anymore. The function they served has largely be taken over by social networks.) Some of the problems plaguing the early Internet in the "Disadvantages" column are still here today too. Despite the rise of reputable online journalism outlets, people still rail against the web as being unreliable. Security is still as much an issue as it ever was. And the "hours" that Internet addicts spend online? By that loose criteria, almost everybody would be considered an addict today.