One thing I was not expecting to find as I leafed through a 1982 Australian Business Computer magazine was a perfectly preserved insert for a managed internet-like service.

The life of a trade magazine insert can be hard.

I've worked in more than a few places where the recipients of said magazines unsheath them from their plastic bags before holding them over the bin, shaking out anything remotely unstapled.

Only then would they thumb through the magazine - so the fact this insert held its own for 33+ years is a miracle in and of itself.

Which brings us to the miracle managed information service it touts: The Australian Beginning.

On first glance this thing is a bit like buying a chumby but forgoing the advantages of form factor or cost.

Rather than paying a couple of hundred dollars for a hand-sized terminal that could sit near your bedside, the Australian Beginning offered a snazzy "visual display terminal" and on-demand information services on a five-year fixed term plan that cost $20 a month - or $2495 outright.

If you needed to print anything, factor in another $749 - and of course you needed a telephone connection.

The service could be used for two hours a day without incurring extra charges of $8 an hour in business hours or $3.60 an hour outside them. "Incredible value", the brochure posits.

The hardware came with a comprehensive warranty - "90 days parts and labour" - and "access to a round-the-clock telephone 'Help' service, which is - let's face it - a pretty good deal.

Farmers, fisherman, entrepreneurs, kitchen superstars all saw the potential.

There was the access to "information services - news, weather, share prices, airline schedules and the like - and the ability to participate in "electronic shopping" 24x7x365.

Users could also pull down software for business, education or gaming, and communicate with other users on-net or via telex.

"In the home or in the office, just run your fingers over the keyboard," the brochure states.

"For only a few dollars a day, you can be linked into a late, powerful computerised storehouse of information with nationwide communication."