We lived in rural (I could see the nearest town 7 miles away on the plains) Colorado in 1996. For me, a 25 mile commute to a tech firm for support work. I had all the internet I could eat (then still almost fresh).
For the wife, life on the farm, make the best of what technology we had was the rule. We had party-line telephone access. No personal calls allowed to my work, so she'd dial up my company's server on the old 286 we had, login as me, use shell to run mail, send me a message, then logoff. If a neighbor had to make a phone call... we learned more about NO CARRIER than we cared. On that system it took her a few minutes to send me a message, where today she uses sms on a cell phone to ask the same questions: what time home for dinner? But it's me asking as she's the primary earner now.
The punch line here is that in 1996 the telco was laying fiber to our doorstep. Fiber, and we were listening for a distinctive ring!