Before consumer internet service was available, you needed an academic or business account.
Story Time. Joining the Internet in the mid 90's.
#introductions [words in Italicized text have Definitions later in page]
My first access to the internet was via an academic server, running Irix on a Silicon Graphics machine. They were pretty, with some purple details and very modern design. We low grade users did not have physical access of course, but the Irix command line was quite enjoyable, I learned all the basic operations of the Internet (that was pre-Web days) via command line utilities.
Pine for email. Gopher was cutting edge stuff. FTP to download text and binaries, program files from remote servers. Telnet , to access another Unix system in Colorado were I had a free shell account – the very first one I ever had.