From Fantha Tracks:
“November 18th 1998 was the first day the phrase “Star Wars broke the Internet” was uttered. For the first time in over 15 years we were going to see a new episodic Star Wars movie. The Force Awakens came close but arguably it didn’t hit the same peaks as The Phantom Menace teaser trailer.
Fantha Trackers each share their memories of that special day from 20 years ago.
Back in 1998 I was on 33.6kbps dial up connection. It’s actually pretty sad that I remember that and didn’t need to check Google for confirmation. When the trailer was announced previously I, like everyone else I knew, was desperate to watch it. I recall clicking the link to download the trailer, and waited, and waited… as it crawled to 1%, 2%…. After what seemed like half an ice age I gave up and downloaded it on my account at University, ready to take home. But disaster! It was bigger than 1.44MB which was the capacity of floppy disks back then. I had to use a program, axe splitter from memory, to break it into parts and then copy on multiple disks. Reassembling them at home…nothing. I had no media player to play the file and that took another eternity to sort.
I then vividly recalled the tiny screen, probably 4″ square, and the grainy green image warning me the trailer had been approved. Next came the Lucasfilm logo, and I sat back to watch. Who were these creatures coming through the mist? Who is the guy with the red and black face paint? It’s difficult to explain how the Internet was back then especially in an age where we carry far more powerful devices in our pockets with images and video at our fingertips. After several rewatches I jumped onto Jedinet (my go to forum back then) and shared my experience with multiple other fans eager to see more of the new film. I do recall downloading the second trailer the following year, I upgraded to a mighty 56kbps by this point, but then struggling with the new Apple Quicktime player. I never saw the trailer in a movie theatre. For the record, I loved the movie when I saw it on opening night.
In November 1998 the internet was still in its infancy, not least in the Lyth household. Finally, after months of pleading, my parents had connected a modem to their landline and enabled us to take our first steps into the larger world of the web.
Of course one of the first websites I thought to visit was StarWars.com, where the trailer for The Phantom Menace had been posted.
I remember anxiously waiting for the Quicktime video to download, my wait soundtracked by all the beeps and boops that were familiar to late ’90s dial-up internet users.
Eventually the file was downloaded… but catastrophe! Our Windows 95 PC simply refused to play the video it was now carrying inside it’s rusty innards. However after a while I discovered that by going into the file’s properties a ‘video preview’ appeared, and enabled me to watch the trailer (albeit a postage-stamp sized version).
So I sat, my nose millimetres away from the cathode ray tube monitor, and took in the trailer in all it’s 100px x 75px glory. And what a trailer… my heart was thumping with anticipation as the now-familiar yet then-mysterious foggy landscape came into view, followed by the words “every generation has a legend”. I’d watch this tiny version of the trailer again and again, getting goosebumps each time Liam Neeson introduced Anakin to Obi-Wan, bursting with excitement about the journey that Mr Lucas was about to take us on. […]”