Advertising: Nerd perfect - the hippy-dippy internet

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The Independent Online

While we're on seminal dates, how about 1969? Came after 1968, of course. Lots of crucial hippy action worldwide. Summer of Love. And didn't the Beatles play the Apple roof in Savile Row?

In California, of course, they had their own version of things, their own kind of sun-ripened beardies. They had surf hippies who thought thoughts as big and empty as the ocean, and - and we know it's important now - they had hippy nerds who loved to play with the new technologies.

One of the great ironies of the internet is that while it was originally a weird cross between academics, hippy-beardy nerds and the Pentagon, by the Nineties it was driving the great dot-com scam of the Western world. (My punk friends always said never trust a hippy.)

And who'd have thought that the product of 1969 California alternativity would, by 2003, be part of a joint venture with what was then the British Empire Post Office? BT and Yahoo! have got together for a broadband initiative - "internet the way it was meant to be" - and the launch commercials pastiche LA 1969. They had to.

BT/Yahoo!'s characters are a pair of period nerds. They're meant to be engagingly hideous and deeply idealistic in a "one day, all men will live like this" way. Their setting is created with that trick people do with the film stock - sort of sun-bleach it - so when we open on an LA campus in 1969, it looks like the beginning of an old Clint Eastwood film. And when we're in the computer lab, full of light and with huge whirring old mainframes, you feel they've got it right.

Our boys have the most terrible grooming and clothes imaginable. There's a Jewish young Groucho Marx one and a square-headed Prince-Valiant one. And they go through that bio-pic routine of imagining how amazing it'd be if computers could talk over the telephone - and mankind could share. "What if we could get the whole world connected?"

Fast forward and the Groucho character is working away on his laptop in his Spielberg-sized beachside spread. "After 34 years," they tell us, "BT and Yahoo! have come together to give you the internet the way it was meant to be." Meaning, presumably, with masses of moral tone, lots of sharing and acres of mellow yellow. Amazing.