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Golden Surfers: When older netizens get on the info highway

By Julian Matthews
September 2, 1999

Two years ago, retired school teacher Mohamed Abu Hassan found himself in a classroom full of teenagers - only this time he was a fellow student attending computer training.

"It's never too late to learn," says the 64-year-old, on his first exposure to the PC. He was as eager to get online as his young course-mates, some of whom were a quarter his age.

Three months later, he was cruising the information superhighway from his home in Kampung Jana Sambungan, in Kamunting, north of Perak - the sole person in his village plugged into the Internet.

"Sometimes, I would be at it all day and night," says the spry pensioner. Much to his wife's dismay. "She didn't mind that I spent RM3,000 (US$790) on the PC, but when the phone bills went up, she wasn't happy at all," he guffaws.

Criticism by a visitor to his first homepage got him fired up to pore through source-codes to learn HTML through trial and error. "I used to get headaches from staring at the screen so long and once got so sick that I needed medical treatment," he recalled.

But the "addiction" had its rewards. His improved homepage has since garnered him no less than 35 awards for website design. "I am grateful to a number of cyberpals I met along the way, who helped with pointers and advice," he says, noting that all of them are much younger than he.

A collection of personal beliefs, philosophy and poetry, his homepage sports the banner "oldest Malaysian webmaster" a title bestowed upon him by a fan.

Although he still considers his site amateurish, the compliments from visitors and awards have encouraged him in the pursuit of online fame - even his initially-skeptical wife has been won over.



Julian Matthews is the Malaysian correspondent for CNET Malaysia. Email us your comments.


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