The Post Office's first computer modem in 1965 ran at a maximum speed (or data transfer rate) of 600 bits per second. Today's modems run at 56kbit/s, nearly 100 times faster.
So why does the Internet experience seem so depressingly slow at times?
One reason is file size. Files took less time to cross the system in 1965 simply because they were smaller and were plain text, with no formatting. We pay for rich data in longer file transfer times.
Users also generally share a node (entry point) to the Internet, meaning you may have to wait a while for your turn to come round.
Furthermore, if you're hitting a popular site, you'll be competing with hundreds or thousands of others for the attention of that site's servers.
What can you do? Not a lot. You could try changing the time of day you go online, remembering that America accounts for easily half the traffic on the Web - and they're between five and eight hours behind.