Back in August 1996, I stood outside an electrical retailers shop on Ealing Broadway.
I knew that I needed to buy a PC because I was setting up business on my own account having been made redundant but did not have a clue as to what I needed, what specification I needed and whether or not I would be taken for a ride by the sales person. My personal acquaintance with PCs or indeed computers of any type were strictly limited although I had been on courses to learn how to 'do' excel and word. The little card by the PC I was looking at helped my decision; full technical and other support package available for £12 per month. A price worth paying I thought and so I entered the shop, decision made.
The salesman went through his patter even though he didn't need to. The last few sentences caught my attention. Something about AOL and CompuServe already being pre-loaded and so the PC was internet ready. I asked him which he though was best. He used AOL and said it was simple for an internet novice to get to grips with.
A few weeks later I signed into AOL for the first time. Those pings on the dial up became oh so familiar. I 'met' the man who would become father to my daughter and my partner for nine years not so long afterwards in a chat room called The Pub. I also met many other people there and thought nothing of meeting up with those people I had only knew online. Many real life friendships were formed in those innocent days of the internet when the dangers that now lurk for the unwary are ever present.
My life really did change by that decision to enter the shop