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The Internet in the era of VHS

Technologist Andy Baio has collected and uploaded to YouTube series of documentaries about the Internet on VHS from the 80s and 90s.

Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

Although the internet has been around -- more or less -- since the 1960s, it wasn't until the mid-90s that it rolled out and gained steam among the general population. It was also around this time that the documentaries started arriving -- informative then, but to our retrospective, 2014 eyes, quite funny.

We know this thanks to Waxy's Andy Baio, who has been collecting these documentaries on VHS, digitising them, and uploading them to YouTube. And not just for the giggles (although they're pretty good).

"Lately, I've started collecting old VHS tapes about the Internet from the early- to mid-1990s. While most of these are pretty corny -- think Gabe and Max's Internet Thing -- they also inadvertently captured pieces of the web that don't exist anywhere else," Baio wrote on his blog in 2008 when he started the project.

"The Internet Archive's earliest snapshots were in late 1996, so anything before that is extremely sparse. The videos, silly as they are, still represent valuable documentation of the early web."

This week, Baio uploaded the remainder of and collated his collection, all of which seems to be rare and out-of-print, to YouTube. There are 11 separate videos comprising eight different documentaries about the early days of the internet, ranging from 1984 (an instructional video about software) through to 1995 and 96.

They're fascinating not just for how many predictions come true, but also for a look at just how far the internet has come.

Get started on the playlist embedded below, or hit up Baio's YouTube playlist to browse.