For people who have grown up in a hyper-connected always-online world, it's hard to explain the pure joy of hearing the sound of your computer picking up the phone and sending those tones . Because it meant going from isolated, disconnected and unitary to being part of a wider world.
Suddenly, everything was at your fingertips and it was intoxicating to me as a teenager. Fire up Trumpet Winsock and dial into the local mom and pop ISP. Suddenly you're surfing the early web using Netscape. Or open up WinVN and read some newsgroups. Or spend way, way too many hours playing MUDs (seriously, I think I spent almost every night MUDding during my teenage years).
Or learning cool HTML tricks by looking at the source of a page (back when pages were simple and you could tell things by looking at the source). Some of my earliest exposure to "programming" was because I wanted to make cool web things on my 1mb of ISP provided web space.
So yes, thank you Trumpet Winsock. Without you my formative years would have been very different and I likely wouldn't be in the career I'm in now.
It's my ring tone. I love the weird looks on people's faces when I'm in a meeting and my phone rings -- especially the "older" crowd (some of the "youngsters" don't recognize the sound).
Of course, required reading is HN favorite Oona Räisänen's excellent analysis of a modem handshake.
It definitely causes double takes on the rare occasions my phone isn't on silent and I receive and actual phone call.
I've also been fruitlessly searching for line noise examples ~~~~~}}~00 etc. Remote Access had a line noise simulator; someone has to have details…
He loaded up AltaVista and explained what a search engine was, in terms that I could understand, by relating it to a library catalog. I'd only used those DOS catalogs to that point, and they were picky. I carefully typed on the Power Mac's keyboard, "Davis, Jim".
As the results crawled down the screen, I knew immediately that this was a world apart from reading old Garfield books at the library, that it was something totally new (and daunting). I really didn't know what to make of it.
A few days later I snuck into the office and printed out the career statistics of "Moon, Warren".
/CTCP #channel PING +++ATH0
I installed https://github.com/SecUpwN/Android-IMSI-Catcher-Detector the other day and found a menu entry called "AT command interface", which I shall carefully leave alone.
The DCC SEND bug is still pretty common too.
At first, though, dial-up Internet access was a long-distance phone call so mostly I'd use a free Juno account (e-mail only with free dial-up numbers) and do as much as I could via e-mail (including abusing the FTP-by-email gateways).
Before Juno, I paid a local BBS for e-mail access (they would dial up their gateway once a day, between 0400-0500 and do a UUCP transfer -- FidoNet transfers happened during the same "maintenance period"). I would dial in, upload the e-mail I had composed offline, download my new mail, and disconnect before reading it. Blue Wave 2.12 QWK offline mail reader. I'll never forget it.
Many of the MUDs I played on are sadly long gone, but a few are still around. I still connect every so often and chat with folks, maybe do a little light RP. Some of those same friends I've been playing with, on and off, for since the early to mid 90s. Even though we're scattered all over the world, it feels like we grew up together. I suppose, we kinda did.
It always struck me odd that MUD playership kinda died off, seeing as how there are many many more people using the Internet now than there were in the 90s. Even accounting for cultural changes and technology moving on, I would have guessed that be enough new people interested in the old ways to keep the population at least level, but alas that doesn't seem to be the case.
I'm glad I got to be a part of that era.
I'm glad I got to be a part of that culture. I learned a lot dealing with the everyday disasters of Bad Old C and ended up with responsibility and management long before I ever would have in the real world. Plus, they were a hell of a lot of fun when you found a neat spot that maybe nobody had seen since it was built.
I played one called Major Mud back in the day. When World of Warcraft came out, I thought, it's about time!
EDIT: Check out this MUD, which won MUD of the Month on the subreddit above: http://www.luminarimud.com/FMud/FMud.html
The only bad thing about it was how you had to let your character grind away for days and days on end. Most people would only come back to check on their grinds for an hour then let the script go back to its work.
Also in my implementation rather than play as the original races / classes you play as Angels or Demons which can possess and play as monsters/npcs to experience different play styles without having to create new characters.
The Angel class is the default for new players and has a mechanism by which experience points are redistributed periodically from players with more to players with less which helps newer / less active players catch up / stay relevant. Veteran / active players who get tired of carrying the team can go dark side and become demons.
Same here. I still recall the first time I ever went online. My mind was blown and it changed everything.
I try to think about what a younger generation who was born into an "always connected" world will experience during their time as a truly transformative moment like that.
In 1993 I was already using Linux, with an actual TCP/IP stack, not some bolted-on thing. In 1994 I was doing contract work on Linux already. One of the jobs was for these guys, still chugging along:
They employed a group of full-time people who continuously gathered new information about mining prospecting going on around the world, stuffing it into a database. This was turned into periodically refreshed web pages, for which subscribers could "click to pay". I hacked the CERN httpd to lock the click-to-pay data, and whipped up a billing system for invoicing customers. (Spat out TeX -> dvi -> laserjet: most beautiful invoices anyone ever got for anything.) I made a nice visual control menu for the whole system using a C program and ncurses, and even Yacc was used on the project for something.
One of the genius programmers on the database side claimed that "OMG, Linux causes data loss", because when the hundreds of megs of generated HTML was copied over to the servers (Linux ext2 FS), the disk usage was way lower than on the FAT. Haha!
In 1995 I got an Asus motherboard with two Pentium 100 processors, and ran Linux 1.3.x with early SMP support (big kernel lock heavily used). make -j 3 was only 27% faster than make.
I still think it's great that Trumpet Winsock was around though. The more people on the internet, the merrier. Who knows if the internet would be everywhere today if the Windows users had been left out.
I can answer that for you: yes, it would be. The value proposition is among the greatest that has existed in all of human history. The hardware was ready, the price was low enough, nothing was going to stop it; lack of a layperson standard mass-consumer OS would have just slowed it down briefly until one was inevitably created.
By the time I started University, I had a 667Mhz P3 that used the BeOS boot loader to quad boot Win98, 2000, Linux and BeOS.
In the 1970s Tasmania was the best equipped Australian state for computer based subjects. A lot of the schools had terminals to a central computer. Buses, I/O devices and assembler topics were covered as early as year 9 levels.
I feel like I don't fully appreciate the gradual transition from dial-up and Trumpet to LTE and a supercomputer in my pocket :) I wonder what people born today will experience that has as great of an impact.
I was grounded for a month.
We wanted to play trade wars and the pit. Super fun.
I also used to call up 411 (information, where you would call 411 and say "do you have a number for John Smith in lake tahoe ca?") -- and I would chat up the 411 operators for as long as possible - the contest being to see how long we could keep the op on the phone.
Then I tried to make blue boxes.
Now I just play survival games and hoard items. I have no fear that I won't be able to find something I saw on the Web. It's harder to lose things forever. Such a different world and one I could not have imagined.
It took several hours to download. The total bill for that was like $50 or something. I had no idea it was going to be that much. I got in so much trouble for that.
That was pre-internet, at least where I lived, and we all used Fidonet. Cant recall my node, it's been too long.
I can't remember who I started out with, but I switched to FreeServe after they launched. They provided subscription free access to a local rate number (which confusingly doesn't have to be geographically local), and made money by getting a cut of the call rates. I don't think they were the first to do this, but they had a partnership with one of the main computer retailers. They were so successful an investigation was launched by the regulator .
And most [Well at that time really just BT or Cable/Wireless] telcos gave you free local calls. You just had to make sure you wasn't connected for more than an hour. I remember a program would disconnect and connect your modem every X minutes.
I remember back then [and to this day] my mind being blown that I was chatting to someone and there is a physical connection between us - there was a signal I was sending that had to use a physical wire connection all the way to their computer, so we could discuss topics we had only just discovered. Yes we felt special.
For me the 'magic' of the internet is now lost on people. It may not be a bad thing; I don't know, but it's accepted now we are always connected.
Back then, when you connected to the real internet [not AOL etc] it was like walking into the biggest library you had ever known and if you chose to be alone to take in that knowledge - you could. If you also wanted to engage with other people in the library - you would be polite and there was a mutual respect for you and your opinions. You could then leave the library and return when/if you wanted.
Rose tinted glasses maybe - but it's a very different Internet now.
I did the telnet thing to mail servers while I was in high school to good effect ;). I would almost certainly cringe if I could see those mails today.
Showing the school IT department what could be done with a semicolon in a URL on their servers would have gotten me suspended if it weren't for some understanding teachers. Thank god I only put a fork bomb (cringe of 2016 me is real) in there.
It's doubly nostalgic to see it here again, 5 years later.
Edit: and there's still room on that donors page for any companies wanting to chip in something substantial.
Edit 2: 5 years, not 4.
On a normal day the site gets about 10 visits. In the last 9 hours it's had about 17k.
That is to say, I was a tech support lackey, answering the phones and talking to dozens of dialup ISP users daily.
It was a small company, and of the three techs there, none of us were Windows users - two Linux, one Mac. Someone had helpfully printed screenshots of Winsock's various dialog boxes and taped them up around our cubicle. It was enough.
Yeah, this whole thread brought back how TCP/IP and dialup stacks used to be commercial. Huge win for the BSD license if you ask me.
Hint: from scratch, reading RFCs, in Turbo Pascal, as a part of his internet newsreader project!
Also, http://petertattam.com is down currently, but
I think it competed with Trumpet Winsock. He had clients who used Trumpet Winsock but had problems configuring it so we helped them out.
It was later on with Windows 95 OSR2 that IE was bundled with it and it had a Winsock Dial Up Network stack that Internet in a Box and Winsock lost a lot of sales. I think they sold MSN subscriptions with it.
AOL and Compuserve competed with sending out free floppy disks and later on CD-ROMs. Then there was that $500 Internet rebate that made a PC basically free but had a $35/month dial up ISP bill to pay for it for five years.
But I remember people registering Trumpet Winsock for $25 and then choosing a mom and pop ISP. Trumpet Winsock was downloaded from a BBS, and was shareware and some ISPS gave out copies of it on a floppy disk when people signed up for service.
It would dial up a few times a day to exchange email using Demon's inbound SMTP (tenner-a-month account!), or one could laboriously route through it if one really needed something specific.
In summer 1995 they replaced it with an ISDN line.
This was in our pre-T1 days. Everyone was getting phone lines. I was using dual modems in my Windows NT machine. He was getting hooked up to a small ISP. The ISP's tech came in to configure his modem. It was taking awhile, so, as he struggled, I gave them both a hard time about how connecting my Windows NT machine to my ISP -- even with both modems -- took 15 minutes. He told me how Unix was "awesome" and that there were over 2000 options to configure. After 4 hours, he gave up and went back to the ISP to try from that end.
A week later, the engineer with the RS still had no internet connection. After another week, his ISP got him online... and immediately crashed his machine. They discovered a firmware bug in the SGI that caused the kernel to panic every time the modem connected. They got a patch, and he FINALLY got online to get his email.
And then we got a T1. But since this connection was SO hard-won, he kept his modem and his private domain. And then, soon after everyone started getting connected to ethernet and the T1, no one could get ANYWHERE. Lo and behold, the ISP tech had configured the engineer's modem connection to advertise itself as a route, and, since that hop was closer than getting 3 buildings away, every computer in my office started using it. It took several days to sort out.
I noted, for the record, that this option for a modem connection was a prominent and easy-to-avoid checkbox on NT.
It wasn't long before this other engineer left, and we were all glad for it. He was the biggest, narcissistic, pompous douchebag I've ever met, even to this day. And I soon began to prefer Linux to NT wherever I could get away with it. I don't know where I was going with all of this, but SGI and early internet days made me remember this anecdote.
FWIW, you should not use Paypal donations. Use payments instead. Otherwise that account will probably get locked again.
FTFY. Someone should really hook this guy up with a Bitcoin address...
Looks like he still has that up at http://www.crynwr.com/drivers/
I remember thinking "this is pointless" but went on to build my first web pages only a few years later (4th or 5th grade).
: There's actually one slightly older (28 Apr 1997), but it's an image (.gif), not a .html file.
Here's a short video  Shopify released last month about the transaction, where I reference how hard it was at the time to get online.
ftp.cdrom.com, metalab.unc.edu, sunsite.something, ...
You also reminded me of "The Usenet Oracle" (later, "The Internet Oracle" ) which also lived at IU.
Thanks for the free work,here are some stock options!
You're the lowly programmerz, I'm the IDEA GUY!