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Here’s what happens when a man browses the web with a 56k modem for a week

March 25th, 2015 at 9:47 AM
Internet Speed

For as much as we complain about Internet speeds, it’s easy to forget just how good we have it compared to the early days of the web when many of us were forced to wait with baited breath for an AOL connection to go through.

Going back to the late 90s, broadband was nowhere to be found. Instead, most users relied on 28.8 kbps and 33 kbps speed modems. And if you really wanted some a more speedy browsing experience, you could always step up your game with a 56 kbps modem.

Today, in a world filled with cable modems and DSL, old school modems are nothing more than nostalgic memories, seemingly relics of an ancient era. But what would happen if you hooked up a modern computer to a 56 kbps modem and tried to browse the web for a week? How would the once-speedy modem cope with some of today’s more data intensive websites?

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Well, wonder no more. Andrew Spaulding of Hopes&Fears recently did just that so that you wouldn’t have to. His findings, while not terribly surprising, are nonetheless fascinating.

Here’s a brief snippet:

Nothing in 2015 works with a 56K modem. Facebook tried its best but often withered and became a jumble of links and text. Tumblr was just too slow to be even remotely entertaining. I tried to load a YouTube video with just a static background image and sound. It took twenty minutes before the computer decided it wasn’t going to bother. This makes sense, a standardized form of streaming media (Flash) wasn’t even accepted at large until 2002 and YouTube didn’t emerge until 2005.

For a trip down memory land, or to simply be reminded of how good we have it these days, Spaulding’s piece is worth checking out.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.




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