Back in the day, before the World Wide Web, people used to go online.
First was the "time share computer" - the invention of the BASIC programming language was parallel to the first time sharing operating system at Dartmouth College in the early 1960s. Schools around the USA would dial in to the computer using acoustic coupler modems.
Us 1980s kids wouldn't dial in to computers for education, of course. We would download software, chat, send emails, take part in discussions, and play multi-player games.
While the World Wide Web certainly made being online easier and more attractive, there was a charm about these old services.
Of course, I am talking about Bulletin Boards. Today, if you hear that phrase at all, people are often meaning discussion boards, but they were way more than just that.
Really, making these things, and making them look good, was an art in itself.
In the old days you used to have to connect via a modem, but today you simply need a terminal program that can telnet. Devices (usually based on the ESP8266) exist for most retro systems, above is a photo of my Atari ST using RETRONet from Back Office Show.
For the curious, you don't need to go through the effort of setting up hardware or software - Particles BBS has a web interface to their BBS!