“THE Internet is a massive collection of computers throughout the world which are linked together on a network, enabling them to communicate with each other using the same language (the world wide web).”

So began our description of what was then an almost completely new technological frontier in a supplement printed in 1998.

The occasion was the launch of This is Wiltshire, the first online venture of the Adver and sister papers the Wiltshire Times and Gazette and Herald.

Only three years earlier, less than one in 50 British people were in any way active online, but by 1998 the figure had crept past one in 10.

That still left a lot of people who might not be aware of what the online world was all about, and our supplement tried to simplify things as much as possible.

We said: “It’s like a huge city with millions of buildings - each one with a different address - web addresses.

“Within each building there are rooms - or pages - which contain words, pictures, video and sound.

“Each room has a door (hypertext) to take you to another part of the building.”

In addition to explaining what the internet was, we revealed that a “staggering” 2,859 sites were offered for perusal by anybody searching for Wiltshire - today the figure is a little over 40.5m.

We listed the services some of these sites had to offer, which included bus timetables, a list of British real ale pubs, the latest news from Wiltshire Health Authority and - perhaps surprising in 1998 for practitioners of an ancient art - information about Morris dancing.

Many of the sites came under the umbrella of ukonline, an early internet service provider which had begun in the mid-1990s and operated until about 2010.

Other articles covered websites for businesspeople, for sports fans, for shoppers and for people seeking courses in a wealth of subjects.

These pieces were interspersed with adverts for the latest in computer technology, including a top-of the range machine with 64MB of RAM and a floppy drive for £1199 plus VAT.

A number of adverts focussed on protecting businesses from the Millennium Bug, which older readers may recall was a problem associated with computers being unable to distinguish 2000 from 1900 once 1999 ended.

Fortunately for those affected - but disappointingly for certain media doom-mongers - the bug proved relatively easy to pre-empt.