Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Good Old Days before the Internet

So, Matt Mikalatos invited his readers to share their memories of The Time Before The Internet for the benefit of the young'uns that might not understand what life was like without it. Since that called up some amusing memories, I'm reproducing - and cleaning up - my response here.

All right, here you go: I remember dialing in to a BBS server on a 2400 Baud Modem - man, that was waaaaaaay faster than the old 1200 Baud models used to be! And once there, you could post messages and read other people's messages - in plain text, no avatars. No graphics at all, in fact: if you wanted graphics, you had to make them out of ascii characters.

Let's see if that still works... No, not in the blogspot editor. So I'll use a jpeg graphic of a text graphic - how's that for irony?

There you go: St Basil's.

Dragging and dropping to move files? Nope. Anything you wanted to do, you did with text commands. Even our video games were text-based.

Oh, and that server that we dialed into? It had a 1 MB hard drive. Yes, you read that right. It was really that big - I mean, absolutely huge, we were never going to be able to fill up that much storage space.

Well, you know, until we did.

We didn't share URLs for sites; there weren't any. We shared phone numbers for BBSs and other servers. Search engines? Ha! No such thing.

Ah, the good old days...


  1. And we'd spend over an hour redialing the same number for our favorite BBS until we finally got through.

  2. And the curses that ensued if the line dropped... I'd forgotten about those.

  3. Hunt groups. If the publicly listed number didn't work, sometimes dialing the next number in sequence did. When I was in grad school, sometimes dialing into the university got somebody else's session.

    Dumb terminals with paper instead of screens.

  4. If you wanted to find a piece of information using a computer, you went to the university library, stood in line at their dedicated search computer, and ran a Boolean search at that computer for information in that library. Or you asked somebody you knew online. Or you RTFFAQ. Search engines? Nope.

    Jenny Islander


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