A hilarious — and slightly embarrassing — 17-year-old clip of former "Today" show hosts Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel and Elizabeth Vargas trying to figure out the Internet has turned up on, yup, the Internet.
In the 1994 clip, Couric, Gumbel, and Vargas struggle to make sense of the "Today" show's new email address, which, at the time, consisted of an "at" symbol that looked like an "a" enclosed in a circle.
"I wasn't prepared to translate that, as I was doing that little tease — that little mark with the 'a' and then ring around it," says Gumbel.
"At?" asks Vargas.
"See, that's what I said," says Gumbel. "Katie said she thought it was 'about.'"
"Or 'around' or 'about,'" Couric says.
Gumbel adds that he had only seen the mark but never heard it said aloud, and then asks, "What is the Internet, anyway?"
"Internet is that massive computer network," says Couric. "The one that's becoming really big now. A lot of people use it to communicate."
Not completely confident in her attempt at an explanation, Couric asks a producer to help her out, and the trio look frustrated as they try to grasp the concept.
Current "Today" show host Matt Lauer aired the clip this morning and had a good chuckle with colleagues Al Roker and Ann Curry.
"It's easy to laugh now," he said, "but we all felt that way. It was a mystery to all of us."
Lauer then joked, "I talked to Bryant last night about that clip and he has become quite tech savvy — he just bought a Sony Walkman."
That's funny because I was using the internet back in 1984 when my college had Usenet access. Fun times, only smart people were on the networks, the doofus masses didn't find out about the internet until 1991.
Planet Nerd exploded and everyone landed on this page!!!!
Couldn't stand Katie 17 years ago and haven't changed my opinion since.
FORTRAN was required when I studied engineering, and it was outdated in 1991 but still required because older engineers refused to learn anything newer. Very few people had computers, and it was all dial-up from the dorms. I remember the days of the Apple 2, before the 2C or 2E. The first time I heard of a computer with 1 GB memory I had no clue what anyone would ever do with it. When I first used the internet it was usenet boards.
I'm cheating on you. We're breaking up loser.
All of you fortune tellers are hilarious. For many years Today was a more "laid back" type of platform, that wouldn't bother consulting an expert on a topic not thought to be of much significance at the time. I find it laughable all of you keyboard hero's can "predict" the internet after its invention, and knock people for not having knowledge beforehand. Let me guess, you also "predict" two towers falling after planes hit them?...
One of the funniest video clips, that I have seen in a long, long time. Katie.., you are priceless. I married the wrong girl. Mike in Montana
Interesting trip down memory lane. I remember my brother showing me this "internet" thing in about 1995. I started grad school that same year and got my first e-mail account, though I only had about 2 or 3 friends with e-mail accounts at the time.
I wonder if this was a bad day for Katie or if the chemistry between her and Bryant was really that bad. Something tells me it was really that bad. Notice how squirmy she gets towards the end when he's rambling about people being afraid to go to sleep, etc. I think it was partly because at first it was unclear what he was talking about. She looks like she'd soo rather be someplace else...funny.
I first was online in 1987, with Q-Link, which was an online service the Commodore 64 had. It was such an exciting feeling, knowing your computer was connected to another one miles away!
I think a spider started the whole thing.
I sold off the black market when I was 6
I had a Commodore64 when I was 7
I bought a AST 386DX back in 1993 and remember login into Compuserv using bulleting boards then in 94 Aol came on the scene. I still have that AST 386 in the attic.
I knew about the internet before allyall foos
You can sure tell the youngsters in this thread – they don't have anything to contribute from the past, so they slander from afar, the mostly irrelevant subtopics and players in the story they never read.
"...So... what was the use in teaching them history; or anything? They weren't learning by it. They're still creating the same old problems..." ~ Cary Grant 1964
I could have sworn that Dateline was giving out email address at least by 2003 so one would think other NBC employees had familiarity with it.
Either way, there's no harm in not knowing. Part of their job is entertainment and that means talking to the audience at their level. Plus, these hosts are morning TV show hosts not engineers. For those who act as if they should know everything, I'd suggest everybody will be confused about some topics – be it medecine or law or technology. In 1994 this was new to 90% of the population so one could not expect a TV host to be too familiar with it.
As for them saying it was an Internet address instead of an email address, well, the web was almost non-existant then. While the Internet and email was commonplace in business the web was still pretty much a university tool. A website address meant little so calling an email address an "Internet address" was hardly a huge mistake.
Darnit! 1993 not 2003
this was fun to watch.
now if they could only figure out a way to put the interweb and pong on those little mobular telephone thingies.
Bryant Gumble is as cool now as he was then...arrogant?? Most of the newscasters are...you all just don't like an arrogant Black man whom the White women love. Dig?
That old scrubbled up thing he calls his wife?
LOL ok Unky Tom – he can have her.
Shuffle off naw boy.
Makes me want bust out the old 9.6 kbps modem
I had a 2400bps on my Ancient Acer BLACK & White "portable" PC (aka laptop)
That thing would singe off the leg hair of the person sitting next to you. Good thing the battery only lasted about 14 mins.
so is the dude black or white, i really can't tell. looks like a black dude with a slim nose...? lol
Well, I must have known what it was in 1994 because I wrote an article about it for my high school paper, and I graduated in 1994. Of course, we didn't have it at home at the time. I was very anxious for my father to sign up, though. And oh, the wonders of CompuServe!
Those of us who remember CompuServe knew why the AOL/TimeWarner merger would be a huge failure. By the time AOL got around to squeezing CompuServe from the market, the secondary methods for getting internet service were useless because everyone had cable by then and AOL was tauting "virus protection" as the only logic to joining. BTW I also recall dropping my stack of punch cards from a shoe box – if it was a COBOL program the cards had to be kept in precise order and the IBM keypunch did not number the cards, you could number them manually but few did.
Gene, I think AOL's downfall had less to do with cable modems / DSL than it had to do with the World Wide Web. In the early days, AOL not only provided service to the Internet but they provided a lot of content as well. When the web came along AOL's content wasn't necessary. You could find whatever you wanted on a website. Even before cable modems, there were plenty of cheap dial up ISP's as alternatives to AOL.
To be honest, I'm not sure most people today even know what the Internet truly is and how it functions haha.
Why didn't they just invite Al Gore on the show to explain?
he was too busy inventing global warming so that he could flush out man-bear-pig.
didn't you see the south park episode?!?!?
Wow this video is kind of funny, but it's amazing to see how far technology has come.
And, of course, here's a nod of thanks to Al Gore for writing the 1992 legislation that opened the Internet up to the general public. The legislation also led to the development of easy-to-use browsers, such as Netscape.
Someone finally said it correctly.
all you rich white folk with your facny computer. i bet you just think you are somthin. if you had to work for a livin like me yor arms and legz wood fall off.
ha!! i'm sure they 'wood' :p
Hmm, snipped out part of my post for some reason. Must be too old to figure out these interwebs.
interwebs is probably my favorite name for the internets
Americans have gotten much ruder since 1994. It's one bash after another bash, one rude comment after another one It's really sickening to read. What the hell happened?
It's a side effect of the dumbing down of society I suppose. It's also easier to be rude in cyberspace, where you don't have to stand up for yourself.
we got internet.
It sad that the kids of today are so used to the internet they cannot fathom a world without it. I personally love the fact that I can remember a time before the internet. Mainly because I know how to interact with others on a face to face basis which seems to be becoming a lost art to today's youth.
It is not surprising they did not understand the entire concept as it was obviously still new. I can't wait until those who are posting "LOL.U R " get a bit older and are being harassed by the new youth by the next new wave of tech.
It'll happen whether you like it or not.
I bet most people laughing at Gumble didn't know what was the internet in 1994. It is not surprising that a non-techi person didn't know much about the internet in 1994. It does not mean he is dumb.
Nothing has really changed. We have some new technology but people are the same as they ever were.
2011 and Sarah Palin is asking what is the internet?
Can I use it to catch salmon?
1994 and the media had not known about the internet yet? Gosh! I heard of the internet back in the summer of 86, I was in High School.
I'll comment on the internet when they bring back Gumbel & Gumbel
They should have had Al Gore on the show to explain it since he invented the darn thing. LOL
Please Don, a link to a audio or video clip where Gore ever said anything close to that. Another Repub lie repeated over and over...
Gore created the Internet the same way Eisenhower built the Interstate highway system. They understood the concepts, realized the potential the systems would have for economics and communication, and organized the politics necessary to get it done. Neither one of them ever claimed to have invented the technology or physically built the systems themselves.
"We" were not all ignorant of the Internet in 1994, contrary to what Lauer claims. I love how this clip exposes the fact that all too often the highly paid "diva" employees in front of the camera are the dumbest kids in the room, and the real brains are behind the scenes. I could never stand Bryant Dumbell. Everything that came out of his mouth was cringeworthy, arrogant, idiotic. Same with Katie Couric at the start of her carreer. She, at, least, grew into her job.
Wow, goody for you, but the vast majority of the planet had no idea what the internet was.
I'm not going to boast that these TV personalities are intelligent, but to bust on them as the dumbest kids in the room because they didn't know what the internet was in 1994 is silliness.
Hadn't Al Gore given them a private lesson yet? Or was he still trying to get his patent approved?
Seriously, for a national leading news program, that had to be an embarrassment... especially for Gumbel, whose ego hardly fit in the studio.
I remember this very broadcast because it struck me as so incredible, I was laughing and shaking my head at the same time as they were puzzling over "what's an internet". My first experience with the internet was back in 1988, and it was basically Unix command-line, FTP, Archie and Veronica, Gopher, Telnet, green-screen, and almost exclusively universities. A 56kbps link was something between state universities that made the front page of the metropolitan newspaper! Most of us were at 1200 to 2400bps, and mostly on Fido-linked BBS's, Compuserve, GEnie, and Prodigy were there too and talking to people in other cities. That was 20 years ago. (25 years ago I was an a manual 300 baud modem with a 40 x 24 text screen for ten minutes a session.) I'm eager to see what kind of network and equipment we'll have 20 to 25 years from now! :-)
probably whatever they'll have in South Korea in 5 years. Their networks are unbelievably fast already.
This is hilarious!!! It shouldn't be embarassing to them though, because that's the way everyone felt back then– is it weird to be saying "back then" about 17 years ago?? Ha. Thanks for the laugh. Reminded me of the first time I figured out how to use dial-up at my parents house, and signed my dad up for AOL without him knowing.... Oops. Ah well, he still uses it. =)
I remember the no internet days not to long ago, I did alot of model building back then. @ is for emails also, not the internet.
bought my first stock thru the Internet in 1997 and havent used a stockbroker since.
The old "point the video camera at the TV" trick.
Its called a dvi cable, moron.
1994 – was just registered with the Garbage Dump (BB) in New Mexico, some telnet, gopher & usenet then. But Compuserve, Prodigy (loved it), um AOL & MSN were on the horizon.
Never be embarassed to say something that later appears dumb, about something new & exciting.
I remember those "Message Boards" we used to log onto with all the modem speak AT OK etc. There were a bunch of DOS commands that you would use to "chat"
I had Compuserve back in the early nineties and we had a "game" called Phantom (I think) – i was all numeric and was all about sequencing and timing. My "callsign" was ViperSlug :)
And there were teams. I remember thinking how cool is it Im battling some dude from Indy while sitting here in Austin.
wow – I hadnt thought of that in years
Notable that Katie seemed to be the only one who had any idea what it was.
Modulate/Demodulate. Phone cradle modems (I don't remember the name)
Green Sheets & punch cards
Teletype and punched tape access to the mainframe
DOT MATRIX ack
oh c'mon, most of us didn't use the internet at that time. That was PRE-Windows95. How many of you remember using the internet at home before Windows 95? And no, BBS services do not count.
People that had access to the internet back then were much lower than people that had cellphones. Most people were still using pagers back then.
Windows 3.1 was around before Windows95 and yes people were able to use the internet with it. In fact, I remember using programs like "AOL" and "IRC" both windows applications in the early 90s. My friends knew about it as well. I was just in high school and I knew more about this technology than any Morning Show host could dream of.
Prodigy Internet was released PRE windows.
I ran it on an 80088(?) with dual 5-1/4 floppies (and an internal 10mb hard disk). I remember installing the "color card" so that I could see multiple colors of orange. Interwebs were awesome :)
Just shows you how clueless most anchors really are...they are just fed their intelligence.
Yes, they are taught information. Just like everyone else.
I remember standing around the computer with the family opening our very first e-mail on AOL. Hearing that "You've Got Mail" sound for the first time was worth getting it alone. So we opened it up. It was from a 24 yr old cheerleader, named Misty....She attached some photos....(Welcome to the internet).
I had a hairdoo similar to Katie's here ....who cares if they didn't know what the internet was.....we'd soon find out. And for that matter cell phones. Things sure have changed.
Sarah Palin was the governor of Alaska and now makes millions.
You must have been too busy being "way smarter than Sarah Palin" to notice.!
WAS the Governor. Before she quit.
Let John McCain pick me out of obscurity and let me be a walking train wreck and I'll be just as famous.
It doesn't take a smart person to be governor if the people voting for him/her are idiots as well. Making millions doesn't require much smarts either, just take a look at the Kardashians. All it takes is a smart person in the background who is good at publicity and branding.
So many pompus people.
Sheesh. Everything has to begin SOMETIME!
All you smarta$$'s out there, please enlighten the rest of us on the NEXT revolutionary concept.
What's the next big thing? huh?
How is what you said any different than what you heap on others?
I think I got AOL in 1994. As I recall, it sucked, but those chat rooms were great!
In 1994, AOL was maybe on their 3rd ver. the only thing it was good for was the chat rooms
interwebs! tubernets! nettertubes! webbernets!
all so gosh darn complicatered...
CNN hasn't even figured it out by now. That isn't a "web address" it is an e-mail address.
"What's a colonoscopy?"
The video shows it as an internet address, and the article claims it's one (in 2011!), but it seems to be an email address, not an internet address. The difference being, email was very common for years before 1994, especially at universities, while web browsers like Mosaic were just getting started, so something like http://nbc.ge.com might have been confusing, but firstname.lastname@example.org should not have been. They should have known that @ was "at".
In response to myself, I guess I should say that "internet address" could refer to "email address" but nowadays usually means "web address."
Hmmm... I wonder if that email address is still valid?
I am surprised that their cue cards didn't have everything phonetically spelled out for them. "Today@NBC.com" should have been been "Today at en bee sea dot com"
I got tired of reading about everyone trying to prove how old they are...then this actually made me laugh. !!
What do you mean "and slightly embarassing?". It's not embarassing. In 1994 the Internet (the way we know it now) was so new and hard to comprehend. So to ask the question "what is the internet" is not a stupid question for 1994. That would be like someone in the year 1840 saying "what's a car?" and then you posting that same question, and saying it's embarassing that they asked that, in 1920! Get real.
well, it's not so much stupid as it is silly. by 1994 i'd already had internet at my house for a couple years, and some of my friends had it even before i did. so even though it wasn't mainstream yet, the internet was already in use in lots of people's homes way before 1994 (especially in big cities like Atlanta, LA and NYC)...and since it's a news show, these guys probably should have known somehting about that before they talked about it. that doesn't make them stupid, it just makes them slightly unprofessional or they were having a bad day and didn't have time to research before they went on-air.
in any case, a mainstream video about the internet from pre-mainstream-internet days is funny and quaint now so i'm guessing that's why its going viral.
I think this interweb thing will take off soon.
I know its sounds stupid, but there has to be a time when the Internet was new. And this is it. I remember during my HS reunion in 1993, there was a sign in book at the door of the reunion, and there was a space for you to write in your email.
I said "Who's got email!?"
MODEM – it stands for MOdulate DEModulate. 9600 Baud was smoking fast!
I remember dialing into work on a 300 baud modem. All I had was a CRT and the modem . I typed atdt1234567 and hit enter and it dialed and connected to the computer at work.
The internet was still a new concept to a lot of people back in 1994 and many of them probably couldn't visualize the internet as much more than sending e-mails. It seemed there were very few really functional websites until the late '90s. I think 1999 was the first time I was able to pay my credit card bill online. Remember all those 3.5 inch floppy disks that AOL would send in the mail?
Bryant is one of my idols in TV. He's now the face of HBO Sports. He's a real intelligent black man with balls. His white colleagues could not handle his confidence, intelligence and finesse in interviewing people.
and you are a bigoted racist...
Bryant Gmbel is a moron!!
And you can't even spell his last name properly, so what does that make you?
@NoSmarter – I think most of us had the same reaction about the internet when we first heard about it. We didn't get it at my employer (a Fortune 500 company) until 1996, so I am not too sure many people grasped the concept un 1994.
perhaps, but they were a source of news – they should have had an expert explain it instead of acting so stupid.
I agree with Greg, the little bunch of talking heads on Today should not have brought it up without an expert on hand to explain it to the masses, if that's even possible. All they did was confuse people. Unfortunately, that's not hard.
I think they, and alot of other people, thought the whole thing was jsut a fad, something that would die out and never really amount to anything.
Otherwise, they probably would have given it more research, and approached it differently.
what modem really means
if you know these then you're really BI :)
In 1968 there was one computer on campus in Champaign Urbana. If you were is the CS class, you wrote your code and used punch cards, held together with rubber bands and kept in a shoe box. the worst thing that could happen is if you dropped your shoe box and your cards got messed up.
The key board had not been adapted to the computer yet. (BTW, it was the model on which HAL was based)
I still have boxes of these from the Air Force – I also have about 6 dozen unused 8" floppies!
@ Charlie – When's the last time you saw Bryant Gumbel on anything. He's been invisible since he left the Today show, so its not too hard to not watch him. (FYI – I do agree he's an arrogant buffoon)
He's on that Real Sports show on HBO. Obviously nowhere near the audience he had at Today. And he still hasn't managed to get through charm school. I'd call him arrogant but not sure he's a buffoon.
Nice to see that Katie Couric hasn't gotten any smarter since 1994.
Katie is quite intelligent, so do away with the sarcasm!!
BAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Now that is funny!
Still smarter than Sarah Palin– which really isn't saying too much, I guess.
As a computer professional for over 26 years, I remember BI – before the Internet. I remember dial-up and bulletin boards (if you don't know what they were, Google it) I remember the early Internet when it was a black Unix type screen. If you wanted to find a location, you had to know what it was. There were no "browsers" and no GUI interface. At the time it seemed like something that would be of little use. I remember when 1200bps was really fast. I also remember when Google (spelled slightly different) was just the biggest number and Yahoo! meant you were really happy... we've come a long way, baby.
lol so do I. Everything was on the command line of a unix box. ftp? from the command line..remote in? from the command line. rlogin I believe....dial up yep! If a call came in while dialed up boom you were blown away unless you had the savy to put a switch on the phone line. Which we did.
Actually it was the concept and implementation of the WWW i.e. web pages that made the "internets" happen for the great unwashed. A browser is sorta useless without a web page to brower. Yowser to the Browser.
@ Bob Roberts: Yep – Tim Berners-Lee is the most famous person that nobody ever heard of. Wait... What I mean is ... Oh, never mind.
Her's comes the "march of the dinosaurs." I remember pre-DOS CP/M operated computers when Bill Gates thought 640K was more than enough memory
Gary, you are too funny!
For anyone interested, wikipedia has a decent write-up on Sir Timothy Berners-Lee.
Margot, CP/M was heaven! I started out with a Sinclair/Timex ZX-81 (1024 Byte RAM, no Kilo, no Mega) my brother soldered together for me. And an accoustic coupler you had to tape to your headset. And a pulse dial phone with really long numbers (and imense fees). I feel like a WW2 vet right now...
Is 'google' by itself a number? I thought it was googleplex, 10 to the 100th power or soemthing like that. Heard that in grade school like 30yrs ago so I apologize if its not right!
I loved my IBM 8088 with its 14 lb keyboard
My 1GB Packard-Bell – not so much.
Lynx in 8-bit
yay – we connected!
back in my day if you wanted to send an e-mail ya had to drive your horse n buggy 15 miles uphill in the snow to the telegraph office next to the train station and after you sent it, it came out on the other end looking like this...
.– .... .- – / .. ... / .- -. / .. -. – . .-. -. . -
It's actually a googol which is the number 10 to the 100th power. A googolplex is 10 to the googol power (10 to the 10th to the 100th power).
Talk about old, I have a piece of CDC Cyber 6600 core memory on my mantle piece-a great conversation piece. Don't know what core is-then you are not old!
Ok...before personal computers (even the Sinclair), there were TTY devices. In the early days, a 110 or 300 baud modem was used (note: baud ^= bit). Networking has come a long, long way since then.
And yes, it was humorous to see the "without a clue" clip...but both then and now, there's still plenty to go around :-)
You use the ATM machines often I bet.
Only if she can remember her PIN number.
I won't be watching Bryant Gumbel again. He is as stupid as he is arrogant.
SERIOUSLY? This was 17 years ago...don't watch him 'cuz he's an idiot NOT because of this clip...
hey vargas, you still need a phone line but not more the 64k
You don't necessarily need a phone line. Ever heard of a cable modem?
Hey Maggie, no one had cable modems in 1994. The only way to talk to people over a network without a phone line would have been through a LAN, but thats not the same as the internet.
You need a phone line?? Really??
Any chance to see Bryant Gumble exposed as the buffoon that he really is is an enjoyable way to kill a couple of minutes.
In the early 90s most people were still unfamiliar with the Internet and few people actually had a computer in their homes (and most of those who did admitted that it dd nothing but collect dust). The Internet changed that and gave people a reason to actually use their PCs. Hard to believe it was only 17 years ago, but it was still really very new hen. This is not proof of stupidity, but rather of a lack of familiarity.
And just what were in 1994? The same jack...you are today?
Do you realize how much money he makes? I really doubt he gives a rats what you think.
Besides, you were most likely making fudgies in yer Huggies during that time.
she is funny
I agree !! :o)
They gave wrong info. They said you do not need a phone line. Back then, basically AOL was the only game in town and you most DEFINITELY needed a phone line.
Well, at the time most Internet users were doing so either at work or at universities. Both required some sort of landline communication but not plain old telephone services (POTS). So she was partially correct.
Compuserve and Prodigy both predated AOL I believe.
Yep, @David is right. Compuserve and Prodigy were the first national ISPs, and were widely used pre-AOL, which took over the market when its more user-friendly interface caught on. Within a few years, AOL had bought out Compuserve, and Prodigy's reach became less and less.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 7,767 other followers