I write about growing up through the PC and Internet revolution in rural America here: https://changelog.complete.org/archives/10417-the-pc-internet-revolution-in-rural-america I talk about the difficulties of everything being long distance, #BBS, #UUCP, #PPP, escaping #Microsoft, #DOS, #Linux, #OS2, and Theo de Raadt. Thank you @kensanata and @szczezuja for prompting me to do this. I realize I may have written, uh, SLIGHTLY more than you were looking for 🙂
@kensanata @szczezuja 2/ One of the things I want to highlight is how Theo de Raadt -- or, to be more precise, his attitude -- was a factor in driving me to Debian. I think #FLOSS communities are just now having an awakening to how bad poisonous people are and how harmful they are to their efforts. 16-year-old me could have told you that in 1996. Any number of people could tell you that now. I am grateful that this corner of Mastodon is such a positive space.
@kensanata @szczezuja @eludom And finally, don't be like Theo. You never know who is on the other end of your flame. Maybe it's a 14- or 16-yr-old kid like I was when Theo flamed me. These days it could be a 10-yr-old. Or it could be an adult dipping their toes in the water for the first time. Who knows. Show #kindness. /end
@jgoerzen @kensanata @szczezuja "Theo" as in OpenBSD Theo? I caught some time with him at a restaurant at a USENIX conference once (90s?) ... at the time I was toying with my own /bin/ed implementation (in, I think, MS-DOS). Theo launched into an exposition on the merits and demerits of several different /bin/ed implementations in different Unix code bases. His knowledge of the code base was encyclopedic. Amazing.
@jgoerzen This isn't exactly my path, but it's close enough that we would have seen each other through the underbrush, and maybe shared the trail here and there.
I've been meaning to document some of those experiences, as well. Perhaps this will kick me to get started.
@elb I'd enjoy reading it if you write it. Please tag me if you remember to make sure I don't miss it!
@jgoerzen I fired up early-computing.org and blatted an outline into it an hour or so ago. Hopefully I get time to polish off parts of it. I don't know if I have the energy to do an omnibus like you did. :-)
@jgoerzen Oh, sorry, that's ambiguous.
I opened an org-mode file named early-computing.org. It's not a domain. Although now I kind of want it to be, and it's available...
@elb Ahh, org-mode files do mess with my head in that way sometimes too, yes 🙂 But yes, that would be a great domain...
@jgoerzen I kind of feel like I don't have enough expertise on really EARLY computing to do it myself.
@elb Same here. There was a lot before the PCs of the 80s, and I mean I was 5 when RMS was starting on the GNU stuff. On the other hand, 1985 is closer to the beginning of modernish computing in the 1960s than it is to today, and the difference will become even smaller compared to the present as time goes on.
@jgoerzen I've also pointedly walked my way back to the early or mid 70s, although my personal history didn't start until the mid 80s. So maybe.
@elb Similar here. For me, I've sometimes seen Linux as sort of a unification of two trees: the PCs, and the institutional big iron. I never had any exposure to the latter before the unification was already happening, and so I've been interested in the VAXes, PDPs, etc. -- the Unixy big iron of the 70s and 80s. @eludom's Compuserve stories are particularly interesting, as I was a user of that and he worked there - and it ran on the PDP series.
@jgoerzen @elb same with me.. I probably had less money, so never got my own phone line, or ran my own BBS, or called any long distance BBS's, let alone compuserve. Worked in a tobacco field in 4th grade to make money to buy my first computer.
.. but I learned logo in school in 5th grade, and in high school there were a couple of computers with modems. And there was a vibrant local BBS scene with dozens available.
I jumped from using a BBS's email gateway to access file-by-email services (dunno if it was UUCP) and Wired's email bot that let me read some of their articles -- to a dorm room with an ethernet jack. Only then came unix.
I also had my back-to-dialup phase (far too long!). Now starlink hits 200 mbit sometimes.
@joeyh @elb I don't want to make it sound like we had lots of money... my parents scrimped quite a bit, but did what they could to invest in my interests (for which I'm grateful!) Would have loved to have that vibrant local BBS scene!
Ironically, I've been on Starlink's waitlist since they started it and just got an email from them last week saying it'll be another year because they're "at capacity in my area". Strange, they've never offered it in my area.
@jgoerzen This is fantastic, thanks for writing this! It echoes a lot of my experiences. I don't think I had ever internalized how little overlap there was between the DOS/Win3x ecosystem and FLOSS, but you're absolutely right. I never saw the code of any DOS shareware utilities I ran — just the stuff I typed in by hand from Byte, Dr Dobbs, and friends
@jgoerzen I was enjoying during reading. It isn't too much. Add more on the Gopher, please.
There is many interesting facts. Surprisingly there are many common trails of your experiences and early Internet in Poland and my getting into computers. The only different is one decade gap, because here everything was deleyed. So we had c64, separate floopy drive, then PC without hard drive, finally dial-up modem and so on. The only thing that there weren't too much Gopher here. ;-)
@szczezuja I am really enjoying hearing of so many others with parallel experiences - even offset in space and time. Thank you!
I'd be happy to write more about #Gopher; any directions you'd like me to take it? My memories of "original Gophertime" are pretty sparse, unfortunately; that was 25+ years ago. I remember the UMN gopher client and the UMN home gopher server, but I don't remember any other specific gopher sites now. 1/
@szczezuja Of those 6, email and Usenet were available "offline" and via various gateways. FTP was probably the hardest to get to. FTPMail was a way to request FTP files by email. And UMN #gopher had FTP support, and gopher menus could link to FTP sites, so if, as in my case, you had no FTP access but did have Gopher access... you could still get to FTP. Which was nice, because for pure file downloads, there was a lot more on FTP than Gopher. 3/
@szczezuja I have some memories of using early web browsers to access Gopherspace (and sometimes FTP) as well. Once I had the ability to run a graphical Web browser, that was my preferred Gopher client. Gopher had various clients, both text and graphical, from virtually the very start, so this wasn't unusual. It worked better than the text client in a lot of ways, and being able to refer to Gopher resources by URL was a nice Web-era innovation for Gopher. 4/
@szczezuja But by the time I took over maintaining UMN gopher in 2002, I wasn't aware of any Gopher sites that were still being maintained (though some still existed, as I archived in 2007). One of the things I added to PyGopherd was WAP/WML support; this was an early phone-based web that used specially-coded menus and simple documents (sound familiar?) But WAP/WML itself fizzled after the iPhone came out with real Web support. 5/
@szczezuja Hope that helps. Let me know if you have questions, want more on one of those topics, or have other directions you'd like me to explore. Those that are older than me would be better to reflect on original Gopher (Paul Lindner is active on LinkedIn, for instance!) /end
@jgoerzen Thanks for your reply. I am thinking more about Gopher sites and the way how you were using them, rather than technical side of that activities. There are probably full archives of browsers and utilities. But as you’ve written most of content wasn’t archived. I’ve looked at indexes like Gopher Jewels. But it’s still hard to imagine what was the most popular or essential thing in original Gophersphere. For eg. I read that there was MTV site, or IBM internal Gopher system.
@jgoerzen But I don’t know if people were using them? Because the most memories are about some school/university access. What I imagine as for eg. looking for lectures information. So what were using of Gopher like in free time?
@szczezuja Gopher wasn't really the best for downloads. It worked and was used for that sometimes, but it lacked resume or even an indicator of the length of data to come. Also #FTP was dominant for file transfer at the time, though it had its own challenges (passive mode mostly fixed them). Anyhow, #FTP was still dominant for file transfer even though #Gopher was used somewhat. 1/
@szczezuja Again for this you would probably get better information from someone that was older than 12 at the time, but... The reason you mostly see memories of #Gopher from universities is because Internet access wasn't widely available elsewhere in the early 90s. Even dialup Internet didn't start to become available and popular until about 1994-1997 ish. 2/
@szczezuja Some period resources like https://archive.org/details/usinggopher0000john/mode/2up may be useful. Articles like https://www.howtogeek.com/661871/the-web-before-the-web-a-look-back-at-gopher/ and https://thenewstack.io/gopher-ruled-internet/ may also be helpful. 3/
@szczezuja 4/ Check out, for instance, this copy of a preserved gopher site (http link, also accessible via Gopher): http://gopher.quux.org:70/Archives/mirrors/wiretap.area.com Also the Gopher Wayback Machine at gopher://mozz.us would be a great place to spelunk.
@szczezuja 6/ Those all pretty much match my memories of typical #Gopher sites of the area. A lot of universities and libraries, some "how to" text. Of course, documents were almost all text. The occasional government system, using serving up documents. Occasional gateways to things like weather data and #library card catalogs. A lot of links to other Gopher servers and such too.
@szczezuja 7/ The one server that is sadly lost to history is the UMN home gopher server. You can see it in screenshots in some articles I posted; it was the default homepage for many, but was gone by the time I wrote gopherbot.
Does this help? /end
@jgoerzen Thank you for the answer. You are the most asked person in my questionnaire. :-) I know that this question is hard to answer. Because I have the same difficulties with talking about my WWW's experiences in 90's. It was a long time ago.
I will follow trails given by you. Some of them I had explored before, you can see notes from that on my Gopherhole.
Thank you for creating the 2007's #Gopher archive. It's a big thing.
@jgoerzen @szczezuja in the UK, at least, our phone calls were billed per minute - so even if you had dialup internet you wouldn’t want to be running it 24/7. I was fortunate to be at university 1992-1996 with ethernet to my room in college from 1994 onwards and could run what I wanted on my own Linux machine, but inexpensive hosting outside of the academic setting was quite limited.
I still see stuff on the internet that appears to have been lifted from a 1990s web site and had “monetisation” slapped on it. Look at any guitar tab site and tell me it wasn’t originally scraped from Usenet …
@dan The way of counting telephone bills were the same in my country. In the late 90's it was possible to use some discounts after 10 p.m., it was 6 minutes fee instead of 3 minutes. There were many ways of techniques for "saving" time (reinvented ideas like #offpunk browser for #gemini) and I had been connecting to the net always with some purpose then.
@szczezuja Both domains resolve to the same machine, so it's incidental that it works, not intentional. quux.org is the real home. Gopher lacks support for virtual hosts or a way to indicate a canonical host or redirect back to the client, so I can't just redirect.
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