If the dulcet tones of a modem dialing up get you in the mood, the video above might be a welcome return to how things used to be. Stumbled upon at the Found Footage Festival, this introduction to cybersex on the Internet was released in 1997 on, naturally, VHS. If the inexplicable pond backdrop and the host's appropriately chunky Cosby sweater don't hook you immediately, her stilted invitation to cybersex with an anonymous male over instant message definitely will. (If not, you might be one of those chat-room bots our mothers always warned us about.)
This video feels centuries rather than decades away from today's Wi-Fi and Tinder and 3D-printed sex toys. It's hard to imagine, let alone remember, when the fact that you were using the Internet to have sex was more of an event than the sex itself. The computer in this video looks clunky and slow now, but it was about as sleek and fast as you could get at that time — as far as instruments for clandestine dirty-talk go.
We all know what's happened since then: Porn, free porn, chat rooms, webcams, Craigslist panties, and more than we'd care to list here became Internet fixtures for people looking to get off. As time went on, cybersex fell by the wayside — as a term and as an activity — and regular, IRL sex started being sought online instead. IMing a stranger over RealTime.Net from the comfort of your mom jeans and sweater lost its thrill when you suddenly had the option to meet up with your hookup.
Cybersex devotees, don't despair just yet; there are still some innovators out there who are very interested in keeping the hardware part of the experience.