I first heard about the Internet in 1995 when I was in the design business. We had secured a project to design some exhibition posters for the Asian Aerospace Show. The deadline was looming ahead and our customer was not able to provide enough photos and information for us to work on.
"Do you have an email address? I'll get my UK principal to email you some pictures." He finally said in desperation.
We were sweating. Sure we've vaguely heard of the Internet but hardly anyone had an email address then. "Of course! We have an email address." Needless to say, we promptly contacted the one and only internet service provider to sign up for an account.
Internet was at its infancy, the ISP had no sales or support team. I remember lugging the CPU to their new office at the Science Park for their technical expert to configure. That afternoon, we received our first email from the UK! What a revelation!
Being one of the early adopters had its advantages. Intrigued by the power and potential of the Internet, we sent everyone for HTML training and began building websites for companies. We started speaking in jargon like Unix, Java, CGI, Macromedia and all that jazz.
I remember information on the Internet was still very lacking then. It's hard to believe that just over 10 years ago, I couldn't find a single Asian recipe on the Net! I capitalised on the opportunity to compile 2 Asian e-cookbooks and sold them through our service provider's portal. At that time, the buzzword was 'portal'. Everyone was trying to build one, thinking "If you build it, they will come."
I had grand dreams. I envisioned that if 1% of the Internet population bought my cookbooks at $3.99 each, I could be a millionaire very quickly. Of course, I sold a grand total of 5 e-books in pdf-format which I emailed to customers who paid up. The revenue wasn't enough to pay for my 'shop front' on the portal. I blamed it on the portal's lack of traffic. It didn't bring enough surfers to their site. If only I had the foresight of Jerry Yang....
Of course, now I fully understand how the Internet has evolved. Today, everyone can be a content provider. Who would have imagined that even a 5 year old can create his own blog?
Just for the hell of it, I googled for 'Asian recipes' and saw a search result of 3,310,000. Now I can get any recipe I want for FREE! What was I thinking?