We Connected Businesses With These Wires That Were Just Insanity





Cyger: And what was Internet Interstate back at that time?


Mann: It was a small ISP. So the idea was, AOL already existed and already had a few million subscribers, and it was only 15 miles away from us in the DC area. These guys had a huge hit that was a graphical interface. Right off the bat, I realized this is a closed system. It was closed; it wasn’t an Internet system. They didn’t even have an Internet gateway. They had private email. You couldn’t get to the web; you could only get to their private web. The whole thing made no sense. There was a company in New York that built a graphical user interface called Pipeline, way back. There was a science fiction writer who started the company Pipeline, the first graphical user interface open source web experience, where you were going on the open World Wide Web without having to go through a text browser, without having to go through AOL. I wanted to be a licensee, essentially, of Pipeline, but then the Pipeline actually became obsolete relatively fast because the industry moved so quickly.


So, then we just became a generic open source, whatever you call it, ISP Internet Service Provider. We connected businesses with these wires that were just insanity, just strings of wires everywhere in everybody’s closets because there were all these little tiny modems and they all had a bunch of wires—really, really old school stuff. It was crazy. So, in any case, we just built our way through that, and they invented the graphical web for everybody, so we started building web pages aside from connecting businesses with ISDN lines, T1 lines, 28.8K modems, giving them training, then we were in the web business building websites and web pages.