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Telehack Re-Creates the Internet of 25 Years Ago 204

Posted by timothy
from the and-corn-dogs-cost-3-cents dept.
saccade.com writes "Telehack.com has meticulously re-created the Internet as it appeared to a command line user over a quarter century ago. Drawing on material from Jason Scott's TextFiles.com, the text-only world of the 1980s appears right in your browser. If you want to show somebody what the Arpanet looked like (you didn't call it the "Internet" until the late '80s) this is it. Using the 'finger' command and seeing familiar names from decades ago (some, sadly, ghosts now) sends a chill down your spine."
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Telehack Re-Creates the Internet of 25 Years Ago

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  • ... that I felt right at home.

    • that I am no longer of the "current technological generation" but am in fact a couple generations back.

      Yes, I remember updating my office location, hours, and plan for finger-ers and actually miss that—somehow it all felt so much more personal to me than Facebook does today. That is, I suppose, how you know that time has passed you buy.

      • Never used finger, either.

      • Nothing wrong with being nostalgic or enjoying an experience for the memories of good times it brings, this is why there is a market for classic cars, among other things. These days you have pretty much the same sorts of people doing pretty much the same sorts of things, just using a different interface, same as it ever was. I wouldn't say time has passed you by.

    • by Lanteran (1883836)
      "You can slice the whole sort of general mish mash any way you like and you will generally come up with something that someone will call home."- Mostly Harmless (Last hitchhiker's book).
    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Me too... but it was the most fun I've had all day!

  • Yeah, it's cool. Yeah, it is reminiscent of my first years on "the net." But it isn't terribly impressive, I had a similar faux OS matrix-login coded in Telegard/Renegade menu files.

    While it is geeky and kinda cool the appeal is limited. Anyone who isn't already familiar with this will not understand what is going on at all. Anyone who is already familiar won't be impressed.

    I hate to piss on parades as I appreciate and encourage anything like this...maybe I'm just getting old.
    • by Iskender (1040286)

      While it is geeky and kinda cool the appeal is limited. Anyone who isn't already familiar with this will not understand what is going on at all. Anyone who is already familiar won't be impressed.

      I think you shouldn't be so quick to assume that others will be equally disinterested. I was born around the time things might have looked like this and I found it plenty interesting. It was interesting to see how much basic familiarity with the Ubuntu command line helped despite it being "bad Unix".

      • by Daneurysm (732825)
        Then you are in that narrow band of between and/or overlapping "famliliar" and "unfamiliar" that can really be intrigued by this....but again, maybe I'm just getting old. These days pessimism is my first sign that I am both alive and awake every day...
  • operator: Slashdotted..367 users, holy shit

    And just like that, the Internet is dead

  • Very nice reproduction, it's scary that I could actually get around on it. I just had to see if I could still write an old-fashioned BASIC program. Worked like a charm.

    In those days, it was just us nerds who used computers. We just HAD to show everybody our little secret, didn't we! Now EVERYBODY's on the Internet!

    • Re:Nicely done! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @05:28AM (#36125550)

      It's pretty much the sad story I love to tell, and since you asked for it (or at least I'll pretend you did), so you now get to hear it.

      'twas the age when life was good for geeks. Universities built us a huge, world spanning network and we loved what we saw. We went and built ourselves a cute garden, where we made our claims and planted wonderful flowers and trees to enjoy, no need for fences or barbed wire because, hey, we WANTED to invite each other over to have a look at what we did with our little turf on the 'net. Come in, and if you enjoy my creation, here's a sapling for you to plant in your garden, no worries, it's free. Sure, there was that occasional bully, but in general we were pretty nifty and knowledgeable gardeners and knew how to beat them with our shovels and rakes. And the occasional gopher didn't bother us too much. Actually, it was a cute little critter! And of course, in some corners of our garden, we planted our special herbs and spices, complete with a camo net. Sure, everyone knew what's growing there but hey, nobody really cared. And if you needed some to relax, just go and take some, there's plenty.

      We looked at what we built and said that it's beautiful, too beautiful to be just for us, we wanted the world to participate and enjoy that beauty too! We decided it would be unfair to keep the others, who are no gardeners, out of it. After all, you don't need to be a gardener to enjoy the sight, sound and smell of our creations, these people, too, should enjoy our roses and relax in the shadows of our trees. We went and built paths through our garden, we cut bushes and made it pleasurable and non-intimidating even to those that were kinda wary of this "jungle". We created safe roads for them so they don't have to climb over bushes but so they could see all there is for them to see. We probably shouldn't have shown them the field with the camo net, but hey, they too wanted some weed, and it just wouldn't have been fair to keep it away from them. Yeah, they just took and didn't plant, but hey, there was plenty to go about. And those that were too stupid to stay on the path or too eager to be troublemakers were even easier to deal with than those gardeners that did the same, since these people were even more clueless.

      The whole mess started to fall down on us when two things happened. Once, some of those idiots had to brag about our camo patches and how they got some really good dope for free in here. That's when the real world started to muscle in and tell us that we can't do that. Ok, we rebuilt it, made the herb fields smaller and less obvious, but sadly we also made the mistake to tell everyone how to still get there. Talk about learning from a mistake, but that's the geek, if he builds something nice, he thinks that everyone should benefit from it. Sadly, that's not the way most people think.

      Especially not corporations, who first wondered where all their consumer sheeple went and, realizing that they went to our garden, decided that this cannot be. There is a place where sheeple flock to, run by technically and not legally inclined people? Their appetite for our nice little garden awoke. They came with big building machines, evicted some of us on the pretense that they now own our turf and build some amusement park on it, fenced off and only accepting those that paid their fee. We looked at it with contempt, since it violated everything we wanted from our garden. You couldn't even go there and take a sapling from their trees, they'd rather uproot and destroy it rather than giving it to you, anathema to the geek ideals. Worse, they took your saplings, grew them and then called the park cops, claiming that you stole your tree from them, not the other way 'round.

      More and more of them came, and less and less we could build our gardens the way we wanted to. Worse, often enough, we couldn't even build our gardens at all anymore. We were swindled out of our turfs, and better not even dream about building a camo patch, the park rangers are sniffing them out faster than you could grow them.

      I think it's time to move on and build a new garden. And this time, we should maybe not let anyone in but people we know.

      • I agree the stupid sheeple, drones and plankton have invaded our sacred space, anything from internet to Unix (Ubuntu) became infected with their stink.
        Just yesterday I was musing about the need to create new application protocol, possibly with a Lisp based text interface, with no Flash, JS, ads, ecommerce, sort of like hypertext vector Fidonet.
      • by Grismar (840501)

        I think it's time to move on and build a new garden. And this time, we should maybe not let anyone in but people we know.

        Please do, I get the feeling this will be your typical win-win situation. I for one will make sure I'll stay off your lawn.

      • Universities built us a huge, world spanning network and we loved what we saw. We went and built ourselves a cute garden, where we made our claims and planted wonderful flowers and trees to enjoy, no need for fences or barbed wire because, hey, we WANTED to invite each other over to have a look at what we did with our little turf on the 'net.

        And that's where your fantasy diverges from reality - and you don't even realize it. They built that network for *their* purposes, not yours. You forgot that the grou

    • Very nice reproduction, it's scary that I could actually get around on it. I just had to see if I could still write an old-fashioned BASIC program. Worked like a charm.

      I was recently looking for a basic interpreter for Linux, they are not as easy to find as I had hoped. I found basic256 but that is more similar to VB than BASIC. Happily, this reproduction run BASIC very similar to what I had on the old Commodore.

      • by qubezz (520511)

        FreeBASIC [freebasic.net]. It's a compiler though, not an interpreter, which is much better because you can distribute binaries. I've used it to whip up little internet applications that as an .exe are a lot easier for end users than a .pl or .php. If you want an IDE, try fbedit [cherrytree.at], which is of course written in FreeBASIC.

    • Ya, and its ruined. ( no, that wasn't sarcasm )

      PS, real men coded in 8bit assembler, but ill give you a pass on it since your heart is in the right place at least.

  • It seems to be getting Slashdotted, the site isn't consistently responding for me. Oh, and while paging through the finger results on my first connect I got this (for realsies):

    "operator: Slashdotted..367 users, holy shit"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:27PM (#36124464)

    If I could only get a message through to my past self....

    I think it would be:

    "Forget the Amiga and Commodore! Buy all Apple stock you can! Hold through the lows! Sell just before the Mayan calendar ends!"

  • by taxman_10m (41083) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:31PM (#36124482)

    Please, someone recreate the golden days.

    • by bitMonster (189384) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:27AM (#36124736) Homepage
      Me, too. God, these web forums are awful. Including this one.
    • by joh (27088)

      The Usenet is still there, nothing has changed. Just a lack of users, so get an account somewhere (news.eternal-september.org maybe) and help to get it back up...

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Usenet is still there, but it's less decent-quality articles and more binaries and spam these days.

      You can still get the classic text-mode clients too, like slrn or tin or trn. I'm a slrn user myself, came to Usenet relatively late in the game in the late '90s. Initially used lynx on Usenet, which worked fairly well with a couple major limitations: no threading and the built-in editor didn't do line-wrapping.

    • I used to say that google's caching of Usenet was a great service to all of mankind.

      Now I really wish they hadn't. The ability to dig through the archives (from a historical standpoint) is amazing, but what "google groups" has been doing to Usenet in the present is... sad.

  • Simpler (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bragr (1612015) * on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:32PM (#36124490)

    I like the days of yore better. Computers were simpler then. The software, the hardware, the protocols, all of it.

    Back then it was possible to understand everything that was going on in your system, and there is something very beautiful about that. You could know how every command worked and how it did it, down the the binary data it was sending down the serial port if you wanted. Now, even though I know what seems like an encyclopedic amount of information about computers, there are large gaps in my knowledge where I either know nothing or I have only a general idea of whats going on.

    Then again I can now play Angry Birds on Chrome so that kinda sooths the nostalgia.

    • Re:Simpler (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:05AM (#36124646)

      And a bit farther back it was possible to fix a computer yourself (*really* fix it, not just swap out a CPU or motherboard) - I remember helping to troubleshoot an old DEC PDP-10 [wikipedia.org] (still alive way after its time) with a voltmeter - much of the logic was on wirewrapped cards. You could see the bug fixes because they were in different colored wires. I even had to enter the bootloader on the front panel register switches (just enough to get it to read the rest of the code from the paper tape reader).

    • by thebra (707939)

      I like the days of yore better. Computers were simpler then. The software, the hardware, the protocols, all of it.

      Back then it was possible to understand everything that was going on in your system, and there is something very beautiful about that. You could know how every command worked and how it did it, down the the binary data it was sending down the serial port if you wanted. Now, even though I know what seems like an encyclopedic amount of information about computers, there are large gaps in my knowledge where I either know nothing or I have only a general idea of whats going on.

      Then again I can now play Angry Birds on Chrome so that kinda sooths the nostalgia.

      Excuse me, just passing through, didn't mean to step on your lawn.

  • type starwars and see ASCII movie..... lmao
  • I got "session closed", what did you get? ;-p

    Man, the Internet of 25 years ago ... I think I got my first modem ever in early '89 ... So that's 22 years at best ...

    Wow ... vt52, pascal, bangpath, TeX, alt.binaries, uudecode, multitasking, c, Linux, code monkey ... Ahhh, the memories of youth. :)

    Wow, the Internet that came before me ... What a mystical place ... I can't express the glee when I discovered FTP and free stuff.

    Now my mom has a e-reader she's trying to hook up to her wifi. Does anybody else find

  • by XSpud (801834) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:53PM (#36124598) Homepage
    I just got this message when logged in: "operator: direct telnet telehack.com will be faster than the web interface"
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:51AM (#36124834) Homepage

    I'm not sure what 80s system it's supposed to be emulating. It's not a BBS. It's not TOPS-20. It's not VMS. It's not SAIL. It's not ITS. It's not an ARPANET TAC. It's not Multics. It's not UNET on UNIX.

  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff.gmail@com> on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:52AM (#36124838) Homepage Journal

    I had an amber monitor . . .

    • Haha, yeah, our computer classrooms were all equipped with amber VT terminals. Some were actually white, but not one, as far as I can remember, was green phosphorus.

      And we had... hundreds of these terminals, all connected to some powerful (for the time) Sun server. I never had as much fun on the internet, as back then. It was all mesmerizing. And people were genuinely excited and glad to connect across the world. Now we are all so fucking jaded.

  • .joke
    He who loves a one-eyed-girl thinks that one eyed girls
    are beautiful.
  • by inKubus (199753) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @01:02AM (#36124888) Homepage Journal

    I think you had to be there, before the time of Google and instant information, to truely appreciate the challenges and wonderful triumphs that were possible. And of course, being in a community with ONLY the top 1 or 2 million in intelligence was nice also. It was a magical time and now it's just noise. Sure there's some smart kids and I really like the whole "being nice is cool" thing, ala reddit, and etc. but I've seen it a million times: once everyone is doing it, it's not cool anymore. But I think this is a time when the roots of tech, the old timers, really need to step up and make sure this thing lasts in the true spirit of what we intended it to be. It truely is a new form of freedom, but it could easily be the makings of a new form of slavery as well. We need to remember that the net is about communitity, not a group of people or a city but this idea that everyone has something to contribute and that the easier it is to contribute, and the more that is contributed, be it good, bad, valuable or worthless, makes it more valuable. The fact that we are greater than the sum of our parts, really just bits of electricity in the world's largest circuit. Let's make sure that free flow is ALWAYS here.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      You know what was fun? Finger was mentioned, and it was still up in use until about oh 2004 or maybe 2006 with a lot of game dev's who used it as part of the .plan system. And for a lot of people interested in the industry it was a seriously kick ass way to get dev. input and help on your own projects. I dunno I guess while everything has become grand, great, and pretty kick ass. There's a lack of personalization these days on the whole.

      Damn it ... GET OFF MAH LAWN! *wave spike cane of doom menacingly*

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      While the old timers may love it, you suddenly realize that back then, because Internet access was pretty much command line _everything_, you had to be fairly literate in command-line UNIX just to be able to use it. Small wonder why Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, which eventually turned Internet access into one with a real graphical user interface (I still remember accessing the 'Net with Mosaic in early 1994--it was a huge breakthrough in terms of accessing the Internet).

       

  • I don't mean to sound narcissistic, but I was browsing through the newgroups circa 1991, and could not find some of the posts I had made in various groups at the time, although I can easily find them on google groups.
  • Last time I checked, the Subj site & a few related ones STILL offered
    "command-prompt" (a,k,a. shell access) to the Internet, eg for students
    & others (eg, some disabled or on dial-up lines) with need or interest
    in accessing the 'Net in similar ways.

    Still, it was nice to be reminded of earlier times... :-)

  • 25 places it at 1986, which is just slightly before I started using it (1989 for me).

    Text only, kermit transfers, cursing as once again you realised you forgot to put FTP into image mode before you downloaded that shareware from funet.fi...all of it.

    Do wish there was still a way to play MIST [wikipedia.org] though, and the associated Cheeseplant's House [wikipedia.org]. We would hang out in Cheeseplant's House waiting for a slot on MIST. Interesting (well to me at least) that they describe it as the second talker - must admit I thou
  • Vuja De (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @03:55AM (#36125346) Homepage Journal

    My God, it's Craigslist with Night Mode on.

  • Has anyone typed "starwars"? It's ... astounding!
    • This is the evidence we need! As internet dwellers we can claim it is ingrained in our culture to infringe on copyrights!

  • I do not like that Arpanet thingy. It doesn't run on my iPad ...

  • > If you want to show somebody what the Arpanet looked like (you didn't call it the "Internet" until the late '80s)

    In 1985, I had already been calling it the "Internet" for some time.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @10:55AM (#36126782) Homepage Journal

    Considering the minimal resources required to reproduce this, any chance this is running on a VM or something that we could 'take home' as our very own? ( for when this fades into the abyss of time and memory )

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