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All of Gopherspace Available For Download 200

An anonymous reader writes "Cory Doctorow tells us that '[i]n 2007, John Goerzen scraped every gopher site he could find (gopher was a menu-driven text-only precursor to the Web; I got my first online gig programming gopher sites). He saved 780,000 documents, totalling 40GB. Today, most of this is offline, so he's making the entire archive available as a .torrent file; the compressed data is only 15GB. Wanna host the entire history of a medium? Here's your chance!' Get yourself a piece of pre-Internet history (torrent)." Update: 04/30 00:16 GMT by T: As several readers have pointed out below, our anonymous friend probably meant to say "pre-Web," rather than "pre-Internet."
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All of Gopherspace Available For Download

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  • Shame on Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:16PM (#32037842) Homepage Journal

    Here's your chance!' Get yourself a piece of pre-Internet history

    I think Jon Postel is rolling in his grave right now.

    • Re:Shame on Slashdot (Score:5, Informative)

      by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:25PM (#32037960) Journal

      Beat me to it. The summary should read "Get yourself a piece of pre-world wide web history," since gopher came AFTER the birth of the internet (1981) but before the widespread usage of the web (circa 1993).

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by suso ( 153703 ) *

        since gopher came AFTER the birth of the internet (1981) but before the widespread usage of the web (circa 1993).

        I hope you don't mean the birth of the Internet was in 1981. Or maybe you typoed 1991 (when Wikipedia says gopher was released)? I thought gopher was actually a bit older than that.

        I just wish people would stop holding onto FTP like they were Charlton Heston.

      • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

        Maybe he just got his words in the wrong order: a piece of Internet prehistory.

      • by Gorobei ( 127755 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @09:33PM (#32039612)

        I have an EE degree. What's a good 2nd degree? CMP ENG or Comp Sci? I want to be eligible to apply for more jobs.

        You are eligible to apply for all jobs now. The trick is actually getting one.

        Second degrees are a net loss in the market. One degree means you are of at least average intelligence and can show up on time when it counts. Two degrees means pretty much the same thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Seriously. The story submitter was anonymous (probably a good thing!) but I'm really shocked that any Slashdot editor could let that line go through without comment. And spare me the "you must be new here" line -- I know perfectly well that /. editing standards can get pretty sloppy, but this is particularly egregious. Calling Gopher "pre-internet" is the kind of crap I'd expect on a mainstream news site, not from "News for Nerds."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mobby_6kl ( 668092 )

        Really? You are shocked that a slashdot editor doesn't check and correct the stories he posts? You must be new here.

    • Someone. Please, please, PLEASE enlighten me on the difference between web and Internet. Yeah, I know they're different and it's a matter of protocols, but I've heard this for years and honestly still don't quite get it.
      • The Internet is a gigantic computer network. E-mail, Gopher, newsgroups, DNS, remote desktop, multiplayer games, and the Web are some applications that use the Internet. The world wide web is all the websites accessible by using an Internet browser. Some of those (Gmail, etc.) provide web-based interfaces to other Internet services.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        This definition is probably looser than most, but here's a quick and dirty view:

        The Web is a huge collection of interlinked documents addressable by URLs and served with HTTP. The Internet is the world-wide TCP/IP network over which the Web and many other services operate.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jeremyp ( 130771 )

          Actually, the Internet is the world-wide IP network. TCP is just one of many protocols that are used to transmit information across it.

      • Someone. Please, please, PLEASE enlighten me on the difference between web and Internet. Yeah, I know they're different and it's a matter of protocols, but I've heard this for years and honestly still don't quite get it.

        I know someone else has just answered, but here goes:

        The Internet is a global network of computers, or more precisely a global collection of interconnected networks that happen to use the Internet Protocol (the "IP" in "X over IP") to talk to each other.

        The Web is a global collection of documents and various media files stored on web servers around the world.

        The Web can also refer to the global collection of web servers which store these documents and media files.

        In other words, the Web is part of the Inter

      • Re:Shame on Slashdot (Score:4, Informative)

        by pizza_milkshake ( 580452 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @09:30PM (#32039586)
        Here's my explanation in graphic form: []
        • by brusk ( 135896 )
          Your picture should also show the internet truck that carries all the information on it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nacturation ( 646836 ) *

        History of the Internet from 1957 to present: []

        Quite educational, even if you think you know all about it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nacturation ( 646836 ) *

          Having just watched it again, it may not fully answer your question. With what you learned from the video in mind, the OSI model [] is the layers the video talked about. There are seven layers altogether, with the lowermost layer being the physical hardware everything runs on, followed by the network connecting the hardware, then how data is passed over the network, and so on until you get to the application layer. You've heard of TCP/IP? That's TCP (layer 4) running on top of an IP (layer 3) network. ICM

      • by tuomoks ( 246421 )

        Haven't read all the replies but Internet isn't just TCP/IP !!!! The many exclamation marks because that's a common error - Internet isn't even an pure IP network, much what happens in there is on Ethernet level or even using other lower level protocols, still! Yes - I know, it's defined in Wiki as a TCP/IP network but, after designing / developing / delivering a lot of systems using "Internet" and sometimes UDP, sometimes other IP based protocols, sometimes working just on Ethernet level / link layer / eve

  • This was just all that was available in 2007. Had he done the same in 1997 it would have been quite a bit different - I'd suspect it would have been quite a bit larger then as well.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Maybe not.
      I think the growth of HD space since 1997 might ahve you thinking that 40GB isn't much. . . today it wouldn't be, in 1997? That was huge.

      I don't have any figures, and wuld welcome actual numbers, but is does seem like a 'raising the bar' issue.

      • I think the growth of HD space since 1997 might have you thinking that they are the only way to store large amounts of data. You could have stored 40GB with a handful of tapes in 1997.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Gopher was already waning pretty heavily by 97, its heyday was probably 93-95 because by late 1995 you had Windows 95 and Navigator making the GUI web very approachable.
  • In a bizarre case of ineptitude, my alma mater (due to financial problems or something) announced they would charge licensing fees for the use of its implementation of the Gopher server [] in February of 1993. This caused people to worry that eventually the standard and protocol itself would also be licensed. It did have other technical flaws but I think a lot of people thought Gopher could have become the internet had Beners-Lee not released a free for public use implementation of the hypertext concept [].

    That move by the U of MN is a great lesson in how licensing can kill innovation. Standards should always be open and guaranteed open.
    • If Gopher might had became the Internets: Imagine all those VT-terminals that wouldn't be in landfills!

      And we'd be working on Gopher-5, the Flash-killer!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by blincoln ( 592401 )

      I prefer to believe that Gopher failed because the world wasn't ready for the awe-inspiring virtual reality experience that was TurboGopher VR.

    • by cgenman ( 325138 )

      As a gopher user in the early 90's, my impression was that the web behaved like gopher, but with a working mouse and actual visuals. Gopher was essentially a way of networking old BBS's together. The web was like that too, but with actual visuals, real page layout, and ugly backgrounds.

      I seriously doubt Gopher would have caught on to the same degree, any more than command-line interfaces being prevented from reaching their full potential by crafty GUI licensing. Gopher just didn't go far enough for the a

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kaszeta ( 322161 )
      Yeah, I was going to make a similar comment, since I was a sysadmin at the University of Minnesota during the later Gopher years (what I call "the pathetic self-pity era".) Highlights included being required to run a Gopher server (since until late '97 all official department content was supposed to made available on Gopher as well as HTTP, we had this bastard of a server called GN that would serve the same content to both), suffering through the "Gopher World Tour", listening to several of the Gopher team
  • by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:22PM (#32037902)

    The web is NOT the internet. (Though sadly it essentially has become so, nowadays.)

    • yes, yes, yes. Pre-www history. Not pre-internet. (Honestly. What do they teach them in these schools?)
    • by dingen ( 958134 )
      Why is that sad?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by brainboyz ( 114458 )

        Because the internet is not restricted to what you can do on a handful of ports with little more than a handful of protocols. That so many technical professionals limit themselves to the "web" tends to restrict creativity.

        • I suppose that's fair enough. Still, when I think about culture and the like, the web is all that really comes to mind. Even things that may happen in other protocols still end up on the web if they are more fleeting than a moment or public than a few people.

          If someone told me to archive the entire internet, I'd consider the www both necessary and sufficient.

          • Interesting claims, given that things like World of Warcraft, instant messenger, voip, doom, and even BitTorrent don't run over "the web" by these semantics. BitTorrent is facilitated by torrent files most frequently downloaded over the web... A lot of people clock a lot of time on the internet in ways that is not "the web."

            Really is shocking to me to see so many people even on a site like slashdot clearly not understand the difference, or try to minimize it. Then again, I guess colloquially the web is tcp/

            • To put some perspective on it for non-nerds / Slashdot editors.

              Port 80 and 443 are the Web ... the other 65534 ports are the Internet, where everything interesting happens.

        • by ls671 ( 1122017 ) *

          There has been a "webalization" process that took place, even encapsulating database connection in HTTP (special type of database driver) and all sorts of other protocols. Further more, a tendency to use port 80 has also prevailed even when not using HTTP. Last time I checked, Skype uses port 80 by default to listen on the local machine.

          One of the logical explanation I see which might have caused this: It all started to occur when corporations started to tighten their security, installing firewalls and star

        • by Twinbee ( 767046 )

          Maybe, but isn't the 'web' basically like a turing machine that can emulate everything else if need be?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The web is NOT the internet. (Though sadly it essentially has become so, nowadays.)

      Hardly. Most traffic is bittorrent and email (mostly spam).

  • Gopher isn't dead. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:22PM (#32037906)

    Includes things like Twitpher (which might not be working right now) Twitter for Gopher.

    Firefox (others?) supports gopher://

    • Sigh...

      This website lets you play with "fortune," an old Linux app

      Fortune goes back much farther than Linux.
      It's not on my Mac OS X machine, Wikipedia's page says:

      A fortune program first appeared in Version 7 Unix. The most common version on modern systems is the BSD fortune, originally written by Ken Arnold.

  • Gopher (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:23PM (#32037920) Homepage

    So does this mean we're getting 6 more weeks of winter or not?

  • I can look around the room and find hundreds of pieces of pre-internet history.

    Is there any other point you can try and sell me on?

  • Pre WWW history sure but GOPHER was a protocol for use on the internet.

  • Yes, rat infested they were. I counted a massive number of 4 gophers in my booksmarks from 1996.

    "gopher://" (a list of cool resources...)

    "gopher://" (I think this is where I got the Blake's 7 scrips from)

    "gopher://" (not sure what this was about)

  • As much as I love the more advanced technology of the modern Internet, there's a soft spot in my heart for Gopher and the Internet circa 1993. Gopher is the way I found the first MUDs I ever played, how I found and was granted access (via telnet) to a Free-net ( which gave me my own email address and access to newsgroups. Then came the Web, and Yahoo still looked a bit like a Gopher site, and I continued to use Gopher through my provider's PPP connection until it became a niche thing.

    • Way back in early '94 or so gopher was a thing, that and ftp, of course. Since then I don't think I've given it a second thought. In fact, I'm having a hell of a time remember anything useful I found via gopher. I once gopher'd a complete list of internet hosts (ips.) I can't remember the list being more than a few thousand lines. That was probably the last time I use gopher.
  • Now you really CAN download an internet, in the loosest definition. :D

    (But it still won't fit on a floppy disk.)

  • ...futureslashdot.future users will be futuretorrenting the history of the www when it gives way to the next iteration.

    Oh and we'll all be plated in gold, because that's what happens in the future.

  • Index anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by avm ( 660 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:48PM (#32038212) Journal

    Is there a plaintext index of URLs this archive includes anywhere? I'm connected via 3G and pulling a 15gig torrent isn't feasible. I'd love to wander thru some of my personal archived bookmark lists and such just to see if any of them wound up being preserved.

  • Since it's all text, I'm surprised that 40GB only compressed down to 15GB. I wonder how small it would be if he used lrzip [] with max settings instead... I didn't see mention of which type of compression was used in the short article.

  • I am a piece of pre-Internet history, you insensitive clod!

  • Gopher lives! (Score:5, Informative)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @07:34PM (#32038610) Homepage

    ...gopher was a menu-driven text-only precursor to the Web...

    What do you mean, "was"? Gopher still works fine. There are dozens of servers out there. See [] or just install your Linux distribution's gopher package and fire it up.

  • Is that there were still gopher sites in 2007! I RTFA expecting the real date to be 1997, but apparently not. How come the sites survived until 2007 but not 2010?

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.