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January 10, 2005 12:23 AM PST

Or, moments of extreme nerdity in Paul's life.

What was your first exposure to TEH INTARWEB ?

In the beginning...

... was my crappy acoustic coupler 300 baud modem for the Commodore 64. You dial a number on a phone (to a BBS), then put the headset on the modem to transfer data via conversion to sound and back. This was circa-1985 or 1986. This was SOOO not fast. But at least the C64 had a disk drive, which was a huge step up from typing games in BASIC into my Timex-Sinclair 2000 and saving to audio cassette.

Next was logging into The University Of Manitoba's mainframe computers to submit my 1st year engineering computer assignments (in FORTRAN). This was 1989. The message "TSO is going down in 5 minutes..." would appear on your screen and panic would ensue. TSO == Time Sharing Option, or something. Basically you edited your FORTRAN code with ed (yes, the one line at a time editor) and submitted a batch job to the TSO/MVS monstrosity and eventually it would run after all the professor and grad student jobs completed... and you'd get all your compile errors back. I might as well have used a teletype for input, just for street cred.

During 1st and 2nd year, I used a variety of DOS PCs and Apple IIs for school, and my C64 to play Ultima. And Trolls and Tribulations.

In the summer of 1990, I took an advanced programming course using this modern language called "Pascal". All the work was done on Mac SE 30s, and in the end I made an awesome graphical game of Battleship. The Mac was way l33t, having syntax highlighting and everything. Just don't try to print and do anything else. Actually, I did use Pascal back in grade 10 ('85-'86) on Commodore SuperPETs, but this is just better left unexplored.

It was the magical fall of 1990 that I got my first UNIX account, and with it, a license to spam USENET! I believe the address was "" or something. Once I started using UNIX (the machines were SunOS, pre-SOLARIS madness), I never looked back. All my friends would debate about whether the PC or Mac was better until I asked them, "You have to reboot your computers? How quaint!".

Oh yes, email lists, browsing the vast wasteland of usenet, ftp, gopher, archie, etc.

Then in the fall of 1994, I started grad school and my friend showed me this thing called the web. It was grey backgrounds, with black text, and some blue text that you could click on and get more grey backgrounds with black and blue text. I think my reaction was, "That'll go far...". A few weeks later I was addicted.

The sad thing is that all the great, cool web sites that I used to visit in 1995 are all gone (, the surreal compliment generator, and others).

I guess we have Hot or Not and shopping. It's just not the same.

You read this far, so I shall reward you with: GREAT MOMENTS IN THE INTERNET'S HISTORY!!! (Actually, it's more like "dubious moments in Usenet's history", but whatever).

Enjoy, losers.

Comments (5)
John, January 10, 2005 02:20 PM:

he he, you said "Timex-Sinclair 2000".

J, January 11, 2005 06:18 PM:

We actually had an AOL account in 1991 and it was actually really cool! I remember gopher and mosaic in college, but those weren't as cool as AOL back then. AOL was actually really visionary with program downloads, forums, graphics and I forget what else. They basically did like everyone else and got lazy on fat subscriber revenues.

I primarily worked on AppleII, GS, Lisa, Plus, SE, si and ci. Didn't mess with PC until work and windows 95. And now look at me - completely converted to AMD and XP.

The thing I think is interesting is the blog revolution vs. the homepage revolution. Everyone used to have a home page, and it was like when desktop publishing came out - all full of blink tags and animated gifs. Then people realize it took too much work to mess with HTML and even frontpage, so they gave up. Now you have basically frontpage online where you can pick some templates and do a web page - called a blog. It's a different mind-shift for sure, and I doubt blogs could have come before personal Web pages - even through they're much easier to to do.

Dean, January 22, 2005 07:17 AM:

Gosh. I started time-sharing on a VAX in, oh, something like 1981. Wrote programs in WATFIV. Then got entirely out of it for years, and got back in sometime in 1989. Did the BBS thang, then found a way onto the net back before anyone had heard of it, back when USENET had something like a staggering 1000 newsgroups.

I honed my typing skills on text-based MUDs (the original Rivers of Mud, and ROM II) some of which are still operating.

I remember the web in 94 or whenever, when there were something like two dozen sites available. "This could go somewhere", I thought. Within a few months, there were hundreds, then thousands, and then boom.

Ah, the good ol' days. Things are much better now.

Paul, January 28, 2005 05:29 PM:

Ha! MUDs! I used to play on Frontier MUD at the University of Manitoba back in the day:

> north
You are in a room with 4 doors.

> open door
I don't know what you are talking about.

> open west door
I don't know what you are talking about.

> open door 1
The door opens.
The kobold hits.
The kobold hits.
The kobold hits.
The kobold hits.
The kobold hits.
You have died.
You appear in a room with 4 doors.

> exit

Davie, February 4, 2005 05:25 AM:

Rivers of Mud! I remember that at UTK in 1992.
Thanks for the memory upgrade.

you are hungry.

> eat brain
You eat the rabbit's brain.

And yes, that is where I got my typing skills. HA!

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