Back in my day . . . Maybe some of you remember quantum link which turned into compuserve and aol I believe eventually. This was back before DNS when you had to type in the number of the server you wanted to access (no domain names etc). When I was a kid I remember being amazed we could read someones message on a TV!
I'm sure there are some of you out there that used it. I happen to know a guy who is an admin of the old Compuserve systems (they still exist! for at least a few more years) and they still have the old membership number system in place.
Anyways, I found a video of the demo of how it worked in case anyone was interested in the early start to the web. There was no sound or anything, and you paid per byte for your downloads (I think it was 300 baud at the time).