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On a memory of web past

So the year is 1996. I was staying with my aunt in Aurora, Colorado and we were both going to try our luck working in Aspen a week later (I ended up getting a job as a ski-lift attendant). I had an old (even at the time, it was from ca. 1988) Tandy laptop with an 8088 running DOS 6.22. This laptop had an integrated 9600bps modem. Using a terminal program I dialed into the Denver Freenet. I located a www chat room site via altavista, surfing via lynx. The young people in that chatroom were enjoying the fact that it handled HTML, and were putting humerous messages as tooltips (title="").

I asked them where they were seeing the joke. "Just hover over the last post, you'll see it."

"I don't have a mouse connected."

"What? Which version of Windows are you on?"

"I'm running DOS, PPP'd into a Unix box..."

"What kinda weird old shit is that?"

"The good kind."


Before this trip, I had a 386 runing Windows 95 on a CGA monitor. Doing so utilized the "hi-res" mode of CGA -- 640x200, 2 colors. Internet Explorer version 3.0 would run in this mode. I used the PPP connection to the Rio Grande Freenet to surf on that PC. Previous to this experiment, in 1993 on a Mac LCII I had a consumer internet account with a local ISP using an external 2400bps modem. I remember clearly it took one hour for every MB of download. The 386 was a better experience due to the faster ISA modem (I forget now the speed). The Mac was my first exposure to gopher (using TurboGopher), but it did not make a big impression on me at the time.

I mailed in my dollar bill to SDF sometime around 1999 or 2000. I worked in IT as a programmer at the time. It was a fun thing to play with but I never used it to full potential. At the time I had a corporate paid for full ISDN line to my apartment to telecommute. I had a block of 8 static IP addresses and ran multiple Red Hat Linux boxes and a Windows NT 4 server. It was then I fell in love with the one true editor: vim, and contributed the vim windows ico document icon still on the community website.

The Rio Grande Freenet in El Paso has shut down, and there are very few public access Unix systems around. I am glad SDF has survived. Rejoining as an arpa member this year brought the nostalgia, and rediscovering gopher has been a big part of what I will associate with 2017.


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