Netflix streaming is so pervasive at this point that it can be difficult to remember a time when it didn’t exist. In reality, the company only started offering streaming video in 2007, after it started moving away from mail-order DVD rentals. But what if Netflix had existed all the way back in the mid-90s, when the internet was a hideous hodgepodge of half-loaded JPEGs and AOL free trial CD-ROMs? Well, it would probably look something like this:

This latest installment of Squirrel Monkey’s “Wonders Of The World Wide Web” series lays out the simple twelve-step process for using Netflix on your Windows ‘95-equipped multimedia home computer. First, you’ll need to sign up for a subscription. A few weeks later, you’ll receive a Netflix-branded “I Stream My Movies” poster, an installation diskette, a CD-ROM filled with available movies, and your own bag of microwavable popcorn. What a time to be alive!


As with any computer program in the ‘90s, installation is only half the fun. From there, you get to browse through the vast library of films, conveniently divided into categories like “Action,” “Crime,” “Karaoke,” and “Boring European.” Once you’ve made your selection, you just have choose whether to stream it (in nearly-unwatchable quality) or “smart stream” it, which only requires eleven hours and thirty minutes of download time.

As with Squirrel Monkey’s previous videos on “Reddit in the 1980s” and “Snapchat in the ‘90s,” this look at a Netflix that never existed makes us thankful for the convenient set-up we have now. But it also makes us weirdly nostalgic for dial-up modems, Norton Antivirus, and warbly VHS tapes.


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