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“You’ve Got Mail!”: Early Memories of Dial-Up Internet at TMH

“You’ve Got Mail!”: Early Memories of Dial-Up Internet at TMH

Screech-Honk-Static = “You’ve Got Mail!”: Early Memories of Dial-Up Internet at TMH

By Michelle A. Krowl, TMH alumnae and board member

July 2022 Library of Congress blog shared answers people gave to the question, “What is your earliest memory of the internet?” Obviously, memories differed depending on when the respondent first accessed the internet and the technology they used to do so. But one response, “AOL & Dial-up noise,” not only resonated with me, but it also took me back to my time at Thompson-Markward Hall. With nice synchronicity, this memory of a now largely-obsolete technology coincided with an upgrade to the TMH Wi-Fi network that will allow residents to be more connected than ever before.

America Online (AOL) dial-up sequence icon,

When I last lived at TMH in the mid-1990s, access to email and the internet were still relatively new for many of us. And America Online (AOL) dominated the market in providing online access at home. The floppy disks and CDs with AOL software to load on home computers were everywhere! But, after loading the software, using AOL still required a landline telephone for the modem to dial up the local number for an actual connection. Thus, the landline telephone in my room at TMH was my lifeline to online connectivity.

(If you have never heard a dial-up modem sound, or it has been a while, you may want to listen to it here for the full experience.)

But the dial-up modem made a terrible racket while calling and connecting to the local AOL number. It screeched, honked, and made loud static noises before finally connecting, and then (hopefully) announcing, “You’ve Got Mail!” The noise was annoying enough during the day, but I distinctly remember times when I had to log on to AOL late at night. So as to not wake up and annoy my neighbors, I had to pile pillows on top of my laptop to try to muffle the sound.

In those days, a basic AOL subscription (yes, you had to pay for internet service!) only allowed users a handful of “free” online hours a month before additional hourly fees started to kick in while checking email and surfing the web. You could compose emails offline and put them in a queue to send automatically when next connected, and could likewise automatically download waiting messages to read offline. Email and internet connectivity in my TMH room was always a game of preplanning to “beat the clock” and avoid extra charges.

Nevertheless, the relatively new world of email and the internet kept me connected with friends in different parts of the country. And it was still a lot cheaper than long-distance calls on the landline phones, given that few people then had mobile phones or phones with unlimited calling plans.

The landline phone on the wall in one of several rooms 
I lived in during my stays at TMH in the 1990s.

How things have changed since the mid-1990s! In most TMH rooms the landline phone now might just be a shadow on the wall where it used to hang. Today, connecting to the internet, email, and social media platforms is usually silent and instantaneous through a variety of electronic devices. No noise-muffling pillows or telephone cords to modems required! Now, we leave our web browsers open all day, without concern of incurring hourly charges.

And thanks to the recent Wi-Fi upgrade at TMH, staying connected has never been easier or more reliable!


Thompson-Markward Hall’s Impact

Thompson-Markward Hall (TMH) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the academic and professional success of young women. Located in the heart of Washington, DC, TMH offers safe, affordable, and convenient housing for women working, attending school, or interning in our nation’s capital. Included in the room and board rates are utilities, free high-speed Wi-Fi, breakfast and dinner, and a diverse, welcoming community.

In addition to offering a wonderful place to call home in DC, we provide useful information to residents and prospective applicants as a resource to help them become familiar with DC and be successful in all of their endeavors. Whether you’re currently looking for a place to stay in DC, planning for a potential future here, or simply looking to learn more about the DC area, TMH is here to help!

Learn more about our accommodations or to submit an application today to start enjoying all of the benefits of living at TMH! You can also make a donation to support the crucial work we do!

Resident Resources

Room and board is due on the first of every month. TMH does not issue payment notices. A $20.00 late fee is charged everyday beginning at 9:00 pm on the 5th day of the month until the room and board payment is received. If you are unable to make your monthly payment for any reason, please speak to management immediately.

Room and board includes the first day of the month until the morning of the last day of the month or until the morning of the day of check-out, whichever day comes first.

In the event that a resident does not stay the entire month, rent will be prorated within the same month. To view the pro-rated fee schedule and a list of other fees—click here: TMH Pro-Rated Fee Schedule 6-1-2022


Each resident is asked to abide by the TMH House Rules and Regulations stipulated here: House Rules and ProceduresRule-packet-Emergency-Procedures-Updated-12-2019. Please read this document to become familiar with TMH policies and procedures such as guest policies, meal times, smoking areas, printer and copier use, Internet and telephone use, damage charges, and much more.

Monday-Friday hours / breakfast 7:00am-9:30am dinner 5:45pm – 8:00pm sat hours / breakfast 8:00 – 11:00am sun hours / brunch 8:00 – 11:00am dinner 5:00pm-7:00pm

Weekly Menu

Commuting: Metro stops within walking distance are Union Station, Capitol South, and Eastern Market. Refillable SMARTRIP cards are available for purchase at all metro stops. For more information on public transportation visit WMATA.

Parking: TMH does not offer parking and street parking is limited. Most areas offer 2 hour parking from 7:00am-8:30pm and unlimited overnight parking without a permit. However, if you do not have a Residential Parking Permit and your car is seen in the area repeatedly within a 30-day period you may be ticketed for not obtaining proper tags.

Union Station is the nearest public parking garage. There is generally a wait list for obtaining a parking space. Click here to visit their website to obtain up-to-date information.

Temporary Parking Permits: DC offers Reciprocity Parking Permits in special situations. Click here to see if you qualify. If you meet the requirements, you can obtain a Proof of Residency form from the front office.

Registering Your Vehicle in DC: If you do not meet the requirements for a temporary parking permit, you may choose to register your vehicle in DC. Click here for specific instructions.

Other Transportation Information:

  • Voting: To become a registered voter in the DC area, visit the Board of Elections & Ethics. Please note that you must unregister from your current voting state in order to register as a voter in DC.
  • DC One Card: DC has a new initiative to incorporate multiple cards into one all-inclusive card. The DCOne Card is a library card, Metro card, and can grant access to Public Parks programs. Click here to register or get more information.
  • DC Plastic Bag Policy: Washington DC’s Skip the Bag, Save the River Initiative requires a $0.05 fee per bag from businesses selling food and alcohol. Be sure to take reusable bags with you to the grocery store to avoid the fee.
  • DC Emergency Alerts: The DC Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Response has an alert system to notify residents of severe weather, police activity, road closures, and school and government closings. Notifications can be received via email or text message and can be specified to neighborhoods or work areas. For text alerts sign up here.
  • DC Metropolitan Police Resources: DC Metro PD offers several resources as well as an anonymous tip line for security concerns. You can find the tip line number as well as other important emergency phone numbers here.