A look back at Canada's awkward early years online

If you thought your teen years were awkward, then you'll have a lot of sympathy for the early days of the internet in Canada.
Some of us don’t remember a world before the Internet. Others couldn't imagine what that would look like. This is an exploration of that strange, medieval era. 4:43

If you thought your teen years were awkward, then you'll have a lot of sympathy for the early days of the internet in Canada. Sure, we're now one of the world's most connected nations, but we didn't get there without going through some growing pains. This week's "Then Vs. Now" walks us through some of those early moments, including...

The Telidon

Chances are you're not familiar with Canada's first crack at a video/teletext network, The Telidon. The late '70s invention promised we'd be able to read newspapers, go shopping, learn and watch movies, all online.

(we didn't)

Slow, limited and expensive, the Telidon never really caught on. But at least the technology led to the development of today's Smart TVs.

New lingo

The early internet adopters quickly figured out that online communication lacked nuance. Their workaround came in the form of "smileys," those early keystroke emoticons that let the recipient know you were just kidding and didn't really mean that about their hair.  

But for the uninitiated, the idea was almost magical, as witnessed in this 1994 clip from CBC's Midday:

It's early days on the information superhighway, and netiquette is here to help everyone figure out the rules of the road. 6:41

These days emojis are programmed into our very phones so if you still can't understand emoji-speak, well,  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

The wrong cyber-crowd

In February, 2000, a series of denial-of-service attacks managed to take down Yahoo, eBay, CNN, Amazon and, some of the biggest websites in the world at the time. The main culprit turned out to be a 15-year-old kid from Montreal with the hacker handle "mafiaboy."

Reported damage ranged from $7.5 million CDN to $1.7 billion, which is both horrific and a surprising achievement for someone who was only 15. The RCMP, however, weren't too impressed with his skills:

Still, mafiaboy's exploits woke the world up to the real vulnerabilities of online security. And to the ongoing menace of the Canadian hacker.

Remember your first time online? Tell us all about it in the comments below!


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