Last month I boosted a post on Mastodon where an early pioneer of networking relayed an amusing story about shutting down part of the ARPANET during a storm. After I did that, I was asked “@danyork Do you have a similar story from your archive?"
As I said in a reply,I have stories, but none quite so dramatic. Born in the late 1960s, I got involved with the Internet in the mid- to late 1980s at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). I was not part of the late 1960s / early 1970s group that was involved with the ARPANET.
But I was at UNH before it became part of the Internet. We used BITNET and there was UUCP and USENET around. It was during my years there (1985-1989) that UNH became part of the Internet. I remember it being a Very Big Deal for those of us in the Computer Science program. Suddenly we would be getting “@unh.edu” email addresses and could connect to everyone else on this growing Internet.
And I was involved with BBSs and early “information services” that pre-dated all of that.
Ari’s point struck me, though. There are many of us who were around in those early days of networking who are walking around with many stories in our heads. Stories of the early days. Stories of how things were before we have the ubiquitous connectivity we have today in many parts of the world (but not all!).
There is value in capturing those stories. In part so that others can perhaps understand how things came to be the way they are. Or to learn how things once were. Or to perhaps spark memories in others. Or for the history fans to just read about what people remember.
There is value in writing or recording these stories NOW… before we forget more of them. Before people get too old to communicate - or before people die. Or, as someone I knew once wrote in the prologue of a memoire of his… “before our memories get so good that we start remembering things that never happened!” 😀
So I think I’ll start this for myself. Here. On this site in a new “History” category. I don’t know that any of my memories are particularly dramatic, and may only be of interest to myself and a few others. But I’ll start capturing them, probably in no particular order.
What about you? If you have stories of the early days of networking, can you share them somewhere?
Image: generated by DALL-E 2 with the prompt "memories of Internet history"
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