WARNING: I am sure there are typos in this story. Also, I was somewhat tired when I wrote this, so if you can't make sense of something I wrote, just skip it and don't worry about it. I got started with computers in 1992. The computer I used back then, was a 8088 with 640k of RAM. It wasn't really my computer, it was for the whole family. Anyway, it had a menu system on it, so I never even saw the DOS prompt. It did have a mouse with it, but only a few programs could make use of it. About a year later, the "stone virus" got on it from a borrowed diskette(the 5.25 inch kind). Both my brother and I tried fixing it, but since we only had the computer for a year, we didn't know what we were doing. My dad gave it away to someone who knew a lot more than we did and we went without a computer for another year. The next computer we got was a Packard Bell 386(25Mhz) with 4MB of ram, and a 2400 baud internal modem. It had Windows 3.1 on it along with DOS 6.22. Now skip ahead 3 years to 1996, and I could write batch files and had most of the DOS commands memorized. I had gotten a copy of AOL 1.1 on a floppy disk that my dad brought home from work. I hadn't used the internet before, but I heard of it at school. I found a phone cord to plug into the modem and then plugged the other end to the wall. After messing with some settings in Windows, I got the modem working and started AOL. It dialed the 1-800 number and connected. After finding out that there was a monthly fee of (if I remember)$19.95, I decided that it would be too expensive. I told my dad how much it costs and he agreed that it was too expensive, but he told my that one of his friends was running a BBS. After getting the phone number for this BBS, I quickly opened up the Terminal program and dialed it. It was called "The Hamshack BBS"(mostly HAM radio stuff). There was only one phone line for it and so there was a time limit of 30 minutes. I would always go there to play the games every day. It was neat because you would get points for playing the games and you would compete against other users to win 15 more minutes of time. After a while, I found the FILES section, and started downloading all kinds of games and programs. When my download ratio limit had been reached, I kept trying to download stuff and it wouldn't work. Then I saw at the bottom of the screen "Please wait! SysOp coming on for chat." This was the first time I ever "chatted" to anyone on a computer. The SysOp told me that I needed to upload something before I could download more stuff. I also started using e-mail on "The Hamshack BBS". Although it wasn't e-mail as we know it today, it was still the same idea: messages could be typed and sent to other users. the "e-mail addresses" consisted of only the username. "The Hamshack BBS" was also a FIDOnet node. I never used it, but I still remember the node was 1:280/19. I now had a faster computer, it was a Pentium 120mhz with 16MB ram and a 1 gig SCSI drive. I don't remember when it was, but I got a copy of the "Computer User" newspaper. I noticed that they had a whole page of BBS phone numbers! I stayed up until about 2AM on a Friday night calling just about every BBS on the page. I remember "The Game Room BBS" was fun and I started going there. There were a few other good BBSs that I started going to regularly. There was also an ISP listed with the BBSs, but the description didn't say anything about it being an ISP. I remember it said that they had over 60 gigs for download. I called it and that's when I found out it was an ISP. They were giving out 2 week accounts(ppp connection) for free with no obligation. I got one and when my two weeks were up, I used the Terminal program to dial back and I noticed that it said on the screen to "type help as the user name if you need help". So I typed help and noticed that at the bottom of the screen it said to type "?" for advanced help. When I did that, I was able to get on the internet with the Lynx browser!! And it was FREE!!! And later I discovered how to exit Lynx and use telnet. After a year, the ISP found out what I was doing and changed the system so I couldn't get on the web for free anymore. -------------- this stuff is more recent... Sometime around 1999, "The Hamshack BBS" went down(the computer crashed). The SysOp and still e-mail each other, usually about programming, or web pages. I now have a network of 5 computer running and I have a cable modem. I still have an old 56k winmodem in my Linux ip masquerading box, and if I ever find time to load the modules for it, I'll get out the now diminished list of BBS numbers in the "Computer User" newspaper and use minicom to call some of them.
AAAAH! MY EYES! Click here if you prefer a black and white color scheme.