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Online Services: The Internet Before the Internet 387

jfruh writes "The Slashdot readership is probably split pretty evenly into two groups. There are those for whom full-on Internet access has been available for their entire computer-using lives, and then there are those who wanted to use the Net from home before 1991, and who therefore had to use a BBS or an online service. Here's a tour of some of these services, including Prodigy, Compuserve, and of course AOL. This should be a nostalgic trip for the oldsters among us, and a history lesson for Gen Y readers."
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Online Services: The Internet Before the Internet

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  • by Mickey06 ( 2611575 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @09:53PM (#39593621)
    Back in time my dad didn't give me internet access, so I had to resort to offline things. However, that was all fine because I used to learn a lot from it. I used to do programming for a long time before Internet, and I am actually glad I did. It feels like the current generation is too obscured with useless things and even new programmers copy paste their code from searches performed on Google. It hardly teaches you anything. I used to read programming books and manuals that came with the tools. I actually had to walk to my friends place to download the latest XNA and Visual Studio. Now kids get it too easily. However, I do find my new internet access fascinating. My dad and I had a discussion and he gave me access. It gives a little nostalgic tear on my eye when I first time logged in to the Internet and made Facebook account so that I could chat with my friends. Good times there, folks.
    • by johnb10001 ( 604626 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:12PM (#39593765)
      I started using the internet around 1978 when I was in college. We had super fast 9600 baud terminals back then and about a dozen Universities were connected to the internet at that time. After graduation I had Compuserve which if I remember right it costs ten dollars a month plus additional time while online. It the 90's AOL bought Compuserve and I switched over to Netscape for email. During most of the 80's I used dial up bulletin boards for games and discussion boards.
    • by Georules ( 655379 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:26PM (#39593881)
      The first time you "logged in to the Internet" was to make a Facebook account? Also, I'm not sure how walking to your friend's place to get Visual Studio taught you anything more about programming -- certainly less than experimenting with example code you find on a website, usually provided from other developers attempting to solve similar problems.
    • by tqk ( 413719 )

      I actually had to walk to my friends place to download the latest XNA and Visual Studio.

      Idiot! Sorry, had to be said. I downloaded Linux when it was ca. 40 floppy disks, '93-ish. I was using Telix with BBSs, wondering wtf The Internet was, and wondering why the hell it was taking so long for us to get connected to it. Then I got a job at Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. (AECL), and found out they weren't even connected yet. Holy !@#$!, it felt like it was taking for !@#$ing ever to get going!

      I feel much better now.

      Damn, that was a frustrating time to be alive. "Why wasn't this working ten ye

      • I was luckier. It was in 1996 IIRC and I purchased a CD-ROM from which I had to make a pair boot floppies (CD-ROM boot support was not available).

        I mostly went to or

        • Aawww man I remember both those sites. I got some of my first linux downloads from there.

          Though coming from outside, in 1998 when documentation for newbies were scarce (and not knowing anybody who was remotely interested in anything outside microsoft), I wasted many a download on the wrong stuff before I finally invested in an early "many distribution collection" CD-set I ordered. Hell if I can remember which one now, but I do recall it had an early version of debian and redhat on it (pre 5.0) and included

          • by cusco ( 717999 )
            Worked at AAA Washington's corporate office in 1998. They had just connected some users to the Internet through their 56k frame relay. I had to do something or other on the weekend one time, so since the connection was essentially empty I downloaded whatever Red Hat distro was current at the time. I had read about Samba, and wanted to build a server for my house out of parts of the scrap machines we tossed. I followed the instructions, expecting to have to ask for a lot of help from the Linux community,
  • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @09:58PM (#39593647)

    Third group: Those who had Apple II or C64 or TRS-80 or some such.

    Fourth (my) group: Those who carried boxes of punch cards across campus.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:08PM (#39593725) Homepage Journal

      What about my group? I didn't grow up with computers, Computers grew up with me. []

      I was online in 1983. It was CumpuServe and it really sucked. At 300 baud it was text-only and there was little there.

      BBSes were better. They were 9600 baud and FREE!

      I wasn't on the real internet until 1997. 33k modem, WOW What speed!

      Man, it was primitive...

      • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Friday April 06, 2012 @12:17AM (#39594501)

        Not all BBS'es went to 9600 baud. I only went from 300 to 1200 baud before closing my Wildcat BBS. Wildcat is the BBS software, not the BBS name. Fidonet took most BBSes offline in the wee hours for forwarding mail. This store and forward of email is the roots of the modern email and mail relay. It became much faster with always connected machines with more than one line.

        For nastalgia, I still have my original 300 baud genuine Hayes Smartmodem. They were rock solid.

    • by icebike ( 68054 ) *

      Awww, the inevitable floor sort, and the diagonal marker lines.....

      • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:52PM (#39594047)

        Ahhh, yes.... the floor sort. Diagonal lines, good. And pranking people by collecting all the chad from the keypunches in the student keypunch area and... finding creative places to hide it.

        Speaking of the floor sort, true confession time: I actually had a part time job as an "operator". Mainly feeding the card reader and filing output into pigeon holes. There was a punch card fed typesetting program that understood all the thesis requirements for margin and TOC and bibliography sites and such, and could to math and chemistry typesetting with weird escape sequences (all upper case, mind you). Think TeX, only punch-card oriented. It had one fairly serious design flaw, it pretty much insisted on reading all 80 columns of the card, so you couldn't use columns 73-80 for sequence numbers as was the usual for most programs in those days. We had a card sorter and operations would sort anyone's deck for free while-you-wait. But thesis decks were a no-go for sorting. Anyway, there was this one chemistry PhD student who's thesis deck was about 1 3/4 boxes of cards. I forget, is a box 8000 cards or there about? Anyway, he gave it to me one day. As I was loading the card reader with big fist-fulls of cards, I bumped my elbow on the reader and pretty much scattered to the wind about 1000 cards. As he silently watched I stopped the card reader, gathered all the loose cards and put them back in the box and said "Sorry." He didn't say a word -- amazing self control -- I think he was at the point of exploding. I saw him again about two weeks later -- he very quietly peeked around the door to see if it was my shift, saw me, and left. Never saw him again.

    • There are only two types of people in the world, those who separate the world into two groups, and those who do not.

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      Prodigy, Compuserve and AOL's predecessor and about a dozen others were around during the 8 bitters day

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:02PM (#39593675) Journal

    ...well, my dad did. So, I had the experience of playing the "Star Trek" game on a printing terminal connected via an acoustic coupler. It was the Arpanet back then, and not the Internet, and we wore an onion on our belt, a big yellow one, because that was the style.

    What was I saying? Oh, right, "full on" internet access wasn't so good in the days before BBSing was popular.

  • Internet reminisces about YOU!

  • Ah, BBSs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by black6host ( 469985 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:06PM (#39593707)

    I ran one, great times. Blazing 300 baud modem. By the time I was done we were up to 56K. I could probably still tell you the connection speed based on the squawks during the initial connection session.

    I'm still very nostalgic about those times as I was part of them, and contributed to them. My BBS was free, and wasn't half bad. Of course Fido Net really gave you that sense of being in communication with the rest of the world. Amazing stuff!

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      My BBS was free

      Weren't they all? I never saw a paid for one.

      • Re:Ah, BBSs (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Friday April 06, 2012 @12:18AM (#39594507)

        There were plenty of paid ones.

        Free for 30 minutes, pay for more access. Pay for file access and doors.

        Telephone lines weren't free, and multitasking hardware was expensive too. There were lots which had access to echomail and basic doors access for free.

        When you didn't have money, the trick was to have a giant list of telephone numbers on the wall so that you could program them all in your autodialer, then go read a book or something until one of the lines rang through to a modem. Then you could spend a night on a half dozen different boards.

    • FidoNet was terrific. I made several long term friends on that system. I even had a gateway over which you could send internet email.

      The internet though has pretty much supplanted that.

      • by Minupla ( 62455 )

        Ah yes, I remember reading an EchoMail message from a fellow who watched the Berlin Wall come down.

        1:351/1 was my node if memory serves :)

        It's amazing what we can take for granted when we cease stopping to think about it. Thanks for reminding me.


    • Thinking back, I sometimes wonder if BBSs weren't more fun then than the Internet is now. Now it's too... I don't know, serious. People do work with it. Students can look things up for school. You can shop for stuff. Sure, there are games, and social networking, and so forth, but it's missing something.

      BBSs, though, they were all for fun. Maybe you got some modems and ran one with your friends. If you were keeping pace, you went for the latest software and added "doors" for things like games and s
    • by Nimey ( 114278 )

      I still remember the ...bong...bong... tone from my 56k USR Sportster attempting an x2 connection, which was one of the two competing OEM "standards" for what eventually became v.90 (it lost out to K56flex, but the modem's firmware was upgradeable).

      Hah, for that matter I can just about whistle 14.4k V.42 handshaking tones. Good times on the old QuickBBS-based system in my hometown; alas, it was too far out in the sticks to be on Fidonet.

      This was back in the Bad Old Days when it was possible to get a 14.4 e

      • AT&FC1D2K3...

        You had to trim the buffers for the UART in Windows to avoid some of that. Trumpet Winsock over a SLIP connection would drive you crazy.

  • America Online (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PrimalChrome ( 186162 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:06PM (#39593709)
    I remember when America Online was a BBS run by Rocky Rawlins in Birmingham, AL. He sold the name to some unheard of upstart company who offered him stock instead of cash. He took the $15k in cash. Oops.
    • Quantum Computer Services (aka QuantumLink, which was basically AOL for Commodore 64 users... later they had AppleLink for Apples).

      Other early services I remember:

      The Source (later merged with CompuServe)

      Portal (semi-popular Unix accounts with some Internet access)

      Galaxy BBS ... a large PC-based BBS in New Mexico trying to be CompuServe

      Fidonet and Citadel networked BBSs

      • which was basically AOL for Commodore 64 users

        Actually, it was AOL, they just didn't know it yet.

        Quantum Link (and Quantum Computer Services) changed its name to America Online around '91. If you were on Q-Link at the time, you might even remember the letters to users from Steve Case back when he was a Vice President during the Quantum days. Those notes from Steve Case seemed to start around the time the Quantum Link logo changed from the blue Futura-like text to the "Qlink" logo with the red 'Q' and black script 'link'. Who knew that in 1991 he'd bec

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:07PM (#39593713)

    I remember the daily ritual of signing on to Compuserve to get the daily email from our customers in Europe, as well as telex orders.

    It was pretty much useless as far as I can recall, but it was a boat load cheaper than phone calls for tech support issues.
    When we first started, there was just beginning to be interconnection between Compuserve and a few other providers. Customers would send us Compuserve mails to let us know they were having problems dialing into our BBS system from India, and Britain.

    The internet came along in our part of the hinterlands, and we hopped on that as fast as possible. We were only too happy to be free of these other services. Even if Email did take a day to arrive (I kid you not, it took a day to get an email from India, and it was routed through the most amazing places).

    So, no, not nostalgic. Nightmare perhaps. Trying to type an answer to a tech support question into the glass tty screen with the minute meter clicking in your head, because copy/paste hadn't really been worked out yet. Being charged by the message length!! Arrrggggh.

    No thank you. I'm not taking the tour.

  • by Narrowband ( 2602733 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:07PM (#39593715)
    The Internet was available before 91 on dial-up, at least if you were a college student. There just wasn't as much on it then, and sometimes it was more likely you could reach your friends online on your local BBS. Heck, there wasn't even DNS, you had a phone book of IPs you entered into your hosts table.

    But I bet the real Internet culture shock for Gen X/Y is probably that they don't remember a time before commercial content or business activity was allowed on the Internet. It wasn't just that there wasn't a web and e-commerce hadn't taken off, it was freakin' prohibited.
    • In 87 or 88 I caught wind of a system I could accss through the University of Maine (I lived near Orono at the time).

      It had email, chat rooms, discussion forums, multiplayer/MUD games, flight simulators, and I could write programs on it if I bothered to learn how.

      It was called NovaNET.

      And it's still around.

      We used modems to connect, ran a terminal emulator, and I played a LOT of Avatar, running a Ninja up to about level 550 or so before I pissed off some sysadmins at UICU and had to give it up. I commented

    • Oh boy, yes! The first clumsy ads caused flamewars that raged like the sun. Also remember when AOL poured its sewage into Usenet? Flamewars were had, Netiquette was cited...
      Of course in those days browsers didn't know of tables and forms were not even dreamt of. Interactive web? You've got to be kidding me? What's wrong with my "under construction" sign, my blink-tags and that cool rotating green gif skull? What? Unisys did what?
    • I was in front of a Sun workstation from '91 to '93. One day somebody posted a multi-part UUencoded Beatles song on a USENET group. They were promptly and universally thrashed by the community for violating copyright and jeapordizing the existance of network priveleges at universities.

      You see, people still had respect for eachother. IP fascism such as the Unisys GIF patent and the marching cubes algorithm were seen as the exception, not the rule. **AAs hadn't started suing students into bankruptcy. Hec

  • I used it back in the day, first in DOS on a 2400baud, then eventually in windows on a blazing fast 14.4. Yeah, a lot of it wasn't that great (especially when they charged per message for email - even to for messages to other prodigy members) but it was pretty good in some ways for the time.

    My question though is this - does anyone else remember the games they had on there? I seem to recall a D&D based game on there, but I can't seem to find anything on it any more. I would have thought that someone else would have played it. I thought it was called Neverwinter Knights (which of course is a current name for a D&D game) but I could be wrong on that.
    • If you're talking about a text-based MMO around the 14.4 era, I played a couple on AOL around that time. They might well have been the same games on comparable services. I was particular to a caribbean island spy game from Simutronics called Modus Operandi.

      They also had GemStone IV and DragonRealms on there as I recall, which were much closer to D&D.

  • The posted article has too many false assumptions in it to be anything like reasonable. It's trying to establish a false dichotomy. I've been on the Internet since the early 80s -- essentially, all my computing life -- and certainly never resorted to silly BBS systems or AOL/Prodigy abominations. Bletch!

    Sure, there were times I had to dial into a terminal server, but I still connected directly to a nice friendly BSD Unix system on the real Internet. The firstish of which was what became known as uwvax.cs.

  • Before 1996 and my family's acquisition of dialup internet (at $0.50 an hour!) my parents had access to Compuserve for several years. I remember using it many times on a 14.4K modem, eventually upgrading to a 28.8K as Compuserve began enabling internet access over their dialup connections.

    Their services were replaced rapidly, even AOL with their numerous exclusives couldn't stave off the inevitable dominance (and infinitely greater flexibility) of the internet.

  • The Source? (Score:4, Informative)

    by kallen3 ( 171792 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:17PM (#39593797)

    does anyone remember The Source? Where Ilearned about archie, gopher, telnet,finger,who, ftp and the like. I remember the first time I connected I went exploring on the source and realized that I was connecting to computers all over the world.

  • AppleCat FTW. If you had the special daughterboard AND you were calling another AppleCat owner, you could get 1200 baud!

  • I think I fit in with a lot of 20-something /.ers. Being born in the mid-80s, I remember a time before internet access was widely available, but I was also too young to ever get involved in the BBS scene, and my first internet experience was web access via lynx and a library account (although my first home access was ...AOL [briefly] a few years later).
  • Revisionism. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by queazocotal ( 915608 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:27PM (#39593887)

    There seems to be a general assumption by many that the internet was predestined to win out over these other pre-existing nets.

    It wasn't.
    Things like the much derided Al Gore 'invention of the internet' - he was instrumental in securing some funding for non-educational use.

    If the existing services that were taking off when the internet came along from behind had gotten their acts together - and gotten for example inter-provider mail working, the internet in its present form may not have happened.

    It could so easily have been that if you wanted to make a page to advertise your business, it wasn't a case of simply sign up to one of the many thousands of hosting providers - but three or four large companies dominate.

    • by mybecq ( 131456 )

      There seems to be a general assumption by many that the internet was predestined to win out over these other pre-existing nets.


      If the existing services that were taking off when the internet came along from behind had gotten their acts together - and gotten for example inter-provider mail working, the internet in its present form may not have happened.

      Certainly not predestined, but economic forces at some point would have demanded interoperability. Whether that meant a true "network of networks" (as you say, and as the internet was defined as), at some point a common-denominator protocol,service,etc would be required. The rise of cheaper and faster electronics (and therefore communications) would make any other scenario unlikely (barring dumb government regulation or something).
      It may not have looked been TCP/IP, but it would be an Internet Protocol none

  • Through uunet. I likened Compuserve and the others to the circles of Internet Hell. Compuserve users were fairly well informed and might actually escape to the Real Internet. AOL users were pretty bad but some of their more clueful ones might escape to Compuserve. Prodigy was the realm of the truly damned. I found myself at one point doing online OS/2 support for IBM. They were able to replicate the Compuserve and AOL forums to the internal network and send our posts back to those networks. Prodigy though..
  • I see this very early entry to the public Internet is sadly missing from the article. CFN ( provided message boards, IRC, USENet, MUDs/MOOs, and just about every other service provided by the fledgling Internet was there, including email (with gateways to FIDO, CIS, and a few others), to anybody with a modem, for free. The FreePort software was also published under (I believe) a 4-clause BSD license, giving rise to myriad offspring, some of which might still be arou

  • I had a friend who couldn't stop calling it "computer serve" instead of "Compuserve." But oh well.

    I started personally in 1990 or 1991 with Prodigy- DXTH23B, here. It was on a 286/12 with 1MB RAM and an incredibly big 60MB hard drive. I even had VGA! I installed the modem myself, at 14 years old. I was so nervous because I didn't want to break our computer, that I was shaking! I got the modem in and then learned about IRQ's and COM ports. Those were the days! I remember being so excited when I could message

  • Travel abroad!! I can't tell you how much is sucks to be traveling in a remote place in India right now and read this article. I'm from the States and have great cable ISP at home. For the past month of traveling, I've had to rely upon my awesome Android rooted phone as a mifi with a SIM card for India. I"m lucky to get up to 30kbps, but most of the time hang around 2 or 3 (in between the long 0kbps). Why talk about how slow things are, go experience it again like me!! :) You'll be glad you
  • I used Delphi and ran a BBS

    • by smchris ( 464899 )

      Delphi had their "internet portal." My first taste of the "wider world," in text of course, in '94.

  • by scottbomb ( 1290580 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:48PM (#39594021) Journal

    Most people I knew didn't have any kind of online service in the mid-80s. It wasn't until 1987 that I met a friend who's dad had it and used it sparingly. CompuServe was just getting started and the ads looked cool in Compute! magazine but there was no way I wouldn't have been able to talk my parents into buying a modem after already talking them into the Commodore 64. One has to remember, a Commodore 64 and 1541 disk drive would set you back about $450. Adjusting for inflation, in today's dollars, that's roughly $867! Add to that, the only way one could access it would be through the phone lines - long distance - around 50 cents/min back then.

    So, we bought blank floppies and used Fast Hack'em to copy warez. Hell yeah, those were the days.

    I collect old computer ads. Remember 10 MB hard drives selling for $3400? You could buy a car for that.

  • Until this past Tuesday, that was the speed I was stuck at. Now I'm flying @ 2.5. Yay.
  • by ArcadeNut ( 85398 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @10:59PM (#39594089) Homepage

    I've been on COMPUSERVE and Genie at 300 Baud. I wrote my own BBS software for the C64 (and I still have the Source code and Data files!), then I wrote one for the Atari ST. Somewhere around 1990 I got on the Internet. That was a PITA back then... having to install software in Windows just to connect.

    I miss those days a little, except for the speed. I'll take my 60Mbit Connection over 300 Baud any day :)

    Long Live the Punter Protocol! Transferring 170K in 30 minutes!

  • by conspirator23 ( 207097 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @11:00PM (#39594095)
    The REAL prototype for today's Internet can be found on the single-line, amateur, free Bulletin Board Systems of that era. You won't find anything comparable to the steaming, frothing orgy of human id we have today in the archives of those online services. European software piracy boards? Check. White supremacists? Check. Crappy low-fi porn? Check. Illegal seizures by federal authorities? Check. The hijacking of discussions by socially maladjusted teenage boys? Check? The ham radio loving middle-aged pedos who stalked them? Check.
    • >The ham radio loving middle-aged pedos who stalked them? Check.

      Oh man that reminds me. Until the mid-naughties ADSL was still a rare thing in South Africa with our single government run telecoms provider and their legally protected monopoly.

      Sure there were ISPs but getting online meant making a per-minute phone call to them over a modem (this was the days of 56K dialup accounts).

      Service from telkom being attrocious most ISPs had a line shortage and could only handle a small number of simultaneous users,

  • The first teacher I ever had who used email was my freshman HS algebra teacher. She used Compuserve so her email address was some sort of random number sequence. Prodigy and AOL were far superior because they encouraged you to pick a goofy nickname to use while online - your screen name. Because, hey, who knew this internet thing would become so serious?

    People are still using stupid screen names for primary email. I get to see a lot as a teacher. There are too many female students out there, for exampl
  • purchased for my C-64 in about 1983-84 when I was 12 or 13.

    Except ... living in Canada at the time meant long distance charges for connecting to the servers in the US.

    When my parents got the bill for my "free" service they took away the modem :(

    ... but, thankfully, not the C-64. BASIC and the Zork series kept me occupied enough until they gave it back to me. Except when I got it back my allowance didn't go too far with the long distance charges. Something like 2 or 3 hours a month, as I remember.
  • For us, this was most practical of the various kinds of Internet connectivity available in those days. It "only" did email--but, jesus--what a productivity boost. Our Fedex bill dropped like a stone.

  • This was the main online service I used for 10 years. Dumped it when AOL bought them. First connected with a manual 300 baud modem I built from spare parts. Still have the modem. Fun days.

  • ..... we ran back and forth screaming in binary.
  • I remember interactive porn stories on the local BBS, and how much faster they loaded when I went to 14,400 (from 2400, I think I had 300 for a bit before that). I remember the first porn picture I ever DLed, "Bed post" was it's title, hot blond, big boobs and a properly sized bedpost....

    I remember my friend playing "Empire" [] on the Evergreen State Colleges mainframe, apparently created at TESC. He would log in with 300 baud modem. Really the first MMOG (or MOG anyway). He was known as "Jen the blood thir
  • by Cheech Wizard ( 698728 ) on Friday April 06, 2012 @01:00AM (#39594695) Homepage
    BBC - BBS - The Documentary - Find it. It's really good. 8 episodes. Some of it is on YouTube: []
  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Friday April 06, 2012 @01:37AM (#39594833)

    And they're better left alone. Let's be careful with those rose tinted glasses. In terms of technology things sucked back then. Things are much better now. I'm old enough to remember 8" floppy disks and all I can say is "good riddance". I hated those BBSs. What a pain that was. And downloading files even with zmodem was so painfully slow.

    I will admit however that I have never been able to find a suitable replacement for the cRPG forum on Compuserve or some of the usenet discussion groups. But pretty much everything else sucked. Technology is one of the few things in the world that get better with time.

    One thing that does seem to have changed for the worse however is the discussion level in forums. I remember discussion forums in the 90s as being a lot more polite and deep, with walls and walls of text and no one complaining about it and well thought out, intelligent replies. Nowadays if a message is too long to have fit in a cell phone text message it is considered a lengthy, impossible to read, wall of text.

    Even on slashdot, I remember the discussions being better 10 years ago. There was a time when the majority of slashdotters even used Linux and knew how to write code. Maybe even assembly language (gasp). It used to also have a high percentage of Libertarians, which was interesting. Now Slashdot seems to be dominated by liberals, socialists, and greens. There was a time when any mention of Democrats vs Republicans was responded to with "What's the difference?". There are still replies like that but they are overwhelmed with hundreds of replies from genuine Democrats and Republicans bickering with each other about their petty differences.

  • Today, you probably pay a flat fee for your Internet service and, for the most part, you don't pay anything for the various Web sites you visit or services you use. In the pre-CIX Internet days, it was an entirely different story.

    Unless you were lucky enough to live close to an online service point of presence you had to use a dial-up modem to call up an X.25 packet switched wide area network (WAN). This connection service alone could cost anywhere from an affordable $1 an hour to a wallet busting $30 an hour, which you could then use to connect with an online service. The online service would also typically charge you a monthly fee plus an additional fee of $1 to $6 an hour. And you thought your ISP was expensive!

    That's between $2 and $36 per hour. At the speeds mentioned, you could transfer 135,000 bytes per hour. That's $0.00237 to
    $0.0427 per 160 bytes, which is much less than the $0.20 that we are charged today for text messaging without a plan. Incredible.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday April 06, 2012 @09:46AM (#39596793)
    To Stanford friends from the MIT A.I. lab.
    My 1976 grad school email address is still active. It used telephone based internet uucp (unix-to-unix communications protocol). And it acquired a domain-name appendx in the mid 1980s.
  • by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Friday April 06, 2012 @09:57AM (#39596891)
    Remember when l00t d00ds used AOL? Remember when Computer Shopper was an inch thick? Those were the days. When your porn came at less than 18 bps, when you saw hackers and you longed for hardware that powerful.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger