No, the Internet used to be ad-free. People used to use the Internet to learn things, and to share information with other people. Until the unwashed massed got to it in the mid 90's, the Internet was wonderful: Email, Gopher, WWW, FTP, etc.
It used to be ad-free because the cost of running those services was trivial and handled by educational and research institutions.
Now the number of services has multiplied (by a lot), both to cater to a wider variety of experiences and a larger number of people.
The cost of running those services has multiplied (by a lot) - no longer just a few kilobytes of plain text, they are rich multimedia experiences including, in many cases gigabytes of high definition video.
I too remember the good old days of the "wonderful" 90s Internet of using lynx to look at web pages and figuring out Trumpet so I could get Mosaic going to look at images. It was fun and exciting and great. But when I compare it to what is possible now - in many cases, completely for free if I'm prepared to sacrifice a tiny part of my attention and privacy (both of which I am conscious of and careful to manage) - well, I'm pretty amazed and what is on offer.
Any time you want to put your hand up to be one of those intelligent, compassionate human beings and provide ad-free wonderful services - please let me know because I'll happily sign up to take advantage of them!