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Things We Saw Today: Flashback To That Time the Today Show Tried To Explain the Internet

A shot from a 1994 episode of the Today Show featuring three hosts taking on a sofa

Back in 1994, the hosts of the Today Show famously tried to figure out what the Internet was.

The Internet had already existed in various forms for quite some time but this was pre-Instant Messenger, pre-Yahoo, pre-most things. People were starting to bring the Internet into their homes by 1994 but many—or most—didn’t have access to it, didn’t have interest in it, and/or just had no idea what it was.

Every few years, this clip of Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel, and Elizabeth Vargas goes viral and there’s really no better example of just how little we all understood about this thing that now dominates basically every aspect of our lives.

In the video, which was the basis of a BMW Super Bowl commercial years later, the hosts are trying to figure out how to pronounce the @ symbol in an email address, also a new concept to them. Is it at? About? Around? This is all new!

Reading the address for viewers to send tips for stories about violence in America, Gumbel reads “violence at NBC GE com,” getting the “at” right but leaving out the “dots.”

Gumbel then asks the big question: “What is Internet, anyway?” In what is arguably the best moment of the whole video, Couric asks their producer, “Allison, can you explain what Internet is?” (That producer, by the way, did a delightful interview about the clip a few years ago. She can, in fact, explain what Internet is.)

While the hosts’ flailing attempts to describe the “computer billboards” that maybe you “write to like mail” are hilarious, I am also 100% certain this is what most of us would sound like if we were asked to describe cryptocurrency or NFTs or any number of things that I’m sure will be commonplace or hugely outdated in 30 years.

What else did we see out there on Internet today?

  • Helena Mankowska, who served as the face model for Resident Evil Village’s Lady Dimitrescu, cosplayed as her own character! (via
  • There’s a new trailer for Rick & Morty season 5. (via Pajiba)
  • Yessssss! A Black Lady Sketch Show has been renewed.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shares that she started therapy after the “extraordinarily traumatizing” Capitol riot. (via People)
  • It’s been nearly a year since #BlackoutTuesday–the day a bunch of white people and companies and brands thoughts they could somehow show support for Black people by posting a little black square on their social media pages. What have those corporate “allies” been up to since? (via Refinery29)

Happy Monday, everybody! You made it!

(image: screenshot)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.