It’s the year 2000, if you are lucky enough to have a dial-up internet connection at home in the UK the names Freeserve, NTL, AOL, Tesco, ICQ, or IC24 might ring a bell. All rocking an incredible speed of up to 56kbytes if you were lucky. Waiting until 6 pm or the weekend when it was considered off-peak for calls and much cheaper to go online. However, only 1 in 4 British homes had access to the internet in 2000. Let’s take a deeper look into, What would the Covid-19 pandemic have been like in 2000 instead of 2020?
Working from home
If you had a home internet connection then you could work from home, however, it would likely have been a lot more painful than it is today. Connecting via dial-up during the day was expensive. Not only that with so many people forced to work from home, the chances were many of the dial-up services would not have been able to cope with the volumes of calls, leaving most getting an engaged tone. For those who were able to connect, the speed would have been turtle-paced.
Video calls or even voice-over-internet calls would not have been a suitable option. Instead, the best way to communicate would have been through instant messaging. Most probably, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, or AOL Messenger. For actual calls, you would have been better of with the old home landline telephone. The only problem though, you couldn’t be on the internet and on the landline phone at the same time! Crazy times. To use the house phone you would have had to disconnect from the internet, have your call and then try and re-connect.
Shared Access To Documents
This wasn’t really a thing in 2000. Instead, you would all have to have a local excel spreadsheet (or lotus) and email it around. Easy to get confused as to what is the latest version.
What about watching videos online? Well, um no. In 2000 the only real online entertainment was very simple games or illegally downloading songs through Napster. But even this was painfully slow. It could sometimes take a week to download a whole album. One song could take several hours to download. You couldn’t even guarantee it was the right one until it had finished downloading. It was far less effort to buy a CD from Woolworths and play it on your PC.
No iTunes or Spotify. But we could skin our very own digital music player. Winamp!
Most homes had 5 TV channels, only those lucky enough to have SKY had a broader selection. DVDs were still relatively new and cost close to £20 each. VHS was the way most people would watch a movie at home. You could rent a movie from Blockbuster Video or Choices Video, but you had to go to the store to fetch them. This wouldn’t have been an option in lockdown.
Not many food shops did online ordering in 2000. Tesco was one of the few, but this was very limited. In early 2000, Tesco’s online food shopping was available in just under 100 stores, all in and around London. Other shops such as Iceland would deliver it for you, but you still had to physically go to the store and shop.
Although even the stores that did online ordering had very limited capabilities and the surge in web traffic could have potentially made them useless.
Online learning was in its very early stages in 2000. Most school lesson plans were still on paper handouts and blackboards. Largely information was delivered by teachers or in school provided textbooks or photocopies of textbooks. This would have meant homeschooling would have been possible but largely from physical textbooks than online. Encarta was largely used for research by school children than the internet.
Homeschooling could have been possible, but a lot harder. It would have been incredibly difficult for teachers to engage with pupils over the internet in 2000. With parents potentially trying to work from home, and most homes only having 1 PC, if any in 2000, it would have been textbooks or nothing. If a similar lockdown occurred in 2000, schools might have resorted to posting out work to pupils.
Mobiles were only beginning to take off in the year 2000. Most people who had one at the start of 2000 would have had a Nokia 3210. The Nokia 3310 was released later in the year. No internet on mobiles, no pictures, no colour. Just text messages, calls, and games such as snake. Not many kids had mobiles, and those who did were largely on pay as you go which was expensive.
To add credit you would need to go to a newsagent and buy a £5 scratch card. You would scratch of the panel providing a top-up number. You would then have to ring your mobile provider, provide the top-up number to add credit to your phone.
You could however send SMS from some websites for free such as Lycos.
Everyone wanted a website
One thing to do online in the year 2000 was to build a website with websites such as Angelfire or Yahoo’s Geocities. These were free and often filled with moving graphics and bright colours.
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