I remember my first modem. It was 300 baud. 300 bits per second. It was a "dial up modem" meaning you needed to dial a number to connect to another modem somewhere that put your computer on the network. Today, I have Gigabit fiber from Race Communications, that's providing me a billion bits per second. Not bad in 35 years to have come so far.
That first modem was a Hayes Smartmodem. The lights would glow red. It could auto-answer. You would dial via a modem program that had the "Hayes" command set incorporated. It was "smart" because prior modems needed an acoustical coupler, and a phone to dial, and this one didn't. Today we have the "smartphone" so you can see the idea of "smart" when it came to technology isn't really new..
Next came an upgrade. We hit 1200 baud. Wow. Then came 2400, 9,600 and then 14.4. Speeds were getting faster. Along came 28.8 in 1994 but it wasn't until about 1998 when we hit 56K that the world really became "connected." The net was taking off. Before that it was services like Genie from GE, AOL, Compuserve, The Source, Unison and more for me. But in the six years between 1992 and 1998 the Internet was where the real development was happening.
In 1998 I remember getting an ISDN line in my house. I had 144k and compared to Dial Up it was mind blowing. The only problem was it was dedicated to the office. A few months later along came at @home and speeds of 1.5 megs and then 3-5 megs and I was off and running.
As I look back at the last 15 years or so of Internet broadband speeds I can only smile. We've come a long way, and with each speed jump has come more services. But the biggest irony is how we're living on the cloud more and more, and back in the 80s the hosted service was the way we all worked. Computers, micro-computers, much like our mobile devices of today, were really just terminals, connected by and to large networks that housed the mainframes and mini-computers that did all the heavy lifting.
Today, speed, power and capabilities are all faster, quicker and better, and as we speed off into the future with GigaBit fiber, like I have, the world is only just turning onto what will be the next big thing.