I woke up early. Far earlier than I necessary to get ready for school. I popped the slot cover, plugged in the cartridge, turned on the 835, and then flipped the switch to the Atari 400.
A couple of seconds (not minutes, this is when computers were so slow they booted up nearly instantaneously) later the modem was making that wonderful noise as it made a connection to a BBS across town, negotiating that 300 baud link.
I was connected. Maybe it was the Par-Troy Party Line or CompuCon (both run on TRS-80s), or the Dew Drop Inn located in Clifton, or maybe it was another Atari BBS. It didn't matter. I was online, leaving messages for other people to read and react to. Or maybe I was playing a rudimentary on-line game.
Why was I up so early? Because this was back in the days when it was hard to afford one modem, one phone line. Most places were single line and single user. To call at another time meant getting a busy signal.
Do you remember those? That sound the phone made when someone was already talking on the phone, before calls automatically went to voice mail.
So, that's what I was doing before I "got the Internet at home." I was beating you all to the punch, suckers.