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The Origins of Chatroulette, as Revealed by Pretty in Pink

Yes, I watched Pretty in Pink last night. I’ll pretend it was because my wife hadn’t seen it, but it’s actually because I still dream of working in a record store with a Smiths poster on the wall.

With Chatroulette tearing up the Net, I was struck by this scene which, frankly, I’d forgotten. (Please forgive the awful camerawork; I’m not the responsible party.)

For those of you in high school in 1986 — remember that system? The one that had Internet-style information when the number of Internet-connected computers was, according to Wikipedia’s History of the Internet, hovering around 0?

Luckily, the government prioritized installing Internet-connected computers in high schools in Southern California.

And you probably remember how you could chat with random people, unsolicited, and anonymously.

Then, sans graphical user interface, relying only on a keyboard, you could instantly send a photo to your chat partner – a mere two years after the standardization of the Ethernet protocol! Girls in pink, boys in blue.

So, Chatroulette, don’t think you’re special. Andrew McCarthy had this process nailed 24 years ago — and I bet he encountered very few masturbators.

All of this, of course, is why I should never have watched that movie.

This post first appeared on Mediaite as part of the Wayback Machine series. Its author, Philip Bump, maintains this personal blog.

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