THE internet first arrived at Furness House circa 1995 at a time when everyone called it ‘the Net, the ‘World Wide Web’ or the ‘information super highway,’ which all sounds very Buck Rogers in the 21st century.

Back then, The Mail did not immediately develop its own news website as the focus was entirely on print editions which romantically rolled off the presses in Emlyn Street.

Hosting a website did not immediately enter the thinking, because the internet did not have the mass usage or availability that we see today where many are connected wherever they are.

Unlike now, where every reporter has multiple online access via desktops, laptops and mobile phones, back then the editorial floor had just a single desktop computer with ‘the internet on it’.

Such was its mystique, it was even housed in its own small private office with a desk and chair. If you wanted a ‘go’ on it, and very few did in those early days, you had to ask permission from IT.

It never worked quickly enough when you were on deadline. It was also noisy in those early days – hence a little office of its own.

The primitive ‘dial-up’ modem went through a harsh beeping and whirring as you ‘connected’ online, which often took quite a while and was prone to dropping out.

In those pre fibre-optic broadband days, websites were notoriously slow to load and would take ages to fully display.

They were very generic and text-dominated because using photographs was still a rarity as it increased the time the page took to appear and photographs were taken with film rather than disc cards.

Many was the time that you waited for the site to load and just as it finally appeared, the connection would drop out.

Before the internet, reporters wanting to find out information quickly either telephoned someone or sometimes several people several times until they called back - often at home or their workplace.

After all, no-one had mobiles. Ahead of its time, the company did possess a very large ‘portable’ phone but it was the size of two house bricks and just as heavy.

It was a primitive ‘satellite’ version with a very thick aerial and resembled something from NASA.

Very expensive, it came complete with a heavy duty protective suitcase to lug it around in, which was enough to discourage any reporter on the move from ever using it.

Reporters often complained of its patchy and inaudible connection, and I seem to remember it took hours to charge up and also lost battery very quickly.

You have to remember that, like many other newspapers around the country, Mail reporters were still using typewriters as late as 1992.

That was when ‘new technology’ was introduced to the paper - computers, to you and me. It was not until much, much later, that these came with individual email or internet access.

Unlike today where you can hop onto Google and search up any organisation you want, back then there was no place to go.

Instead, the news editor maintained a huge, fraying contacts book which he ferociously guarded. Many a young trainee had their head bitten off for disappearing with Mike Rushton’s contacts book.

Phone numbers were also stored in a massive card index system on the news editor’s desk. These drawers contained hundreds of contact details for organisations and people, supposedly stored in alphabetical order.

The Mail’s archive – containing newspaper clippings dating back decades and a photo library holding thousands of photos was dutifully kept in order by the librarian Heather Horner, and Sheila Atkinson.

If you weren’t able to find a number or details about an organisation, you called 192 directory enquiries for a number, but often needed the exact address so the company possessed telephone directories for large parts of the country.

Just a single email address existed back in the mid-1990s but it was rarely used as the rest of the world had not caught on and continued to send things via post or fax.

Every morning, the News Editor’s desk was buried with a pile of post to open containing dozens of press releases, letters from readers, invitations to events and submitted photographs and film.

It has been 20 years since the Mail’s website launched, yet it is incredible how far it has come and how widely supported it is by readers and advertisers alike.