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After FidoNet Tom Jennings has gone on to have a long and fascinating career mixing art and technology, with a good side dose of car hacking and queer activism. His current website is at http://sr-ix.com/

Indeed! It's hard to describe how influential and wide-ranging his career has been, but I'll try:

Besides pioneering FidoNet, Tom Jennings also started another early ISP in 1992 originally running out of John Gilmore's basement in San Francisco called TLG: The Little Garden, named after a Chinese food restaurant in Palo Alto that was popular with techies:


John Gilmore had a T1 line to his house in the Haight, and TLG customers (I mean the ISP, not the restaurant) would pay for their modem and a phone line to be installed, and for their monthly phone bill and share of the T1 line. Tom did all the wiring in the basement, which was a work of art that really impressed the technician from the phone company when he came over to install more lines. John said they charged the minimum amount necessary in order to set a baseline that other ISPs would eventually have to compete with, at a time when nobody else would sell you a cheap fast connection to the internet.




>There's a kind of cheap theatric irony in the fact that Jennings first took control of The Little Garden (TLG), a San Francisco provider of Internet access, when he was on food stamps; yet now that TLG has more success than he and his staff can keep up with, he's looking for an exit play, to sell out. He wants to stop working the entrepreneur's 90-hour weeks and is talking about buying a piece of safe, income-generating commercial real estate.


>The Little Garden (with John Romkey, David Henkel-Wallace, and Steve Crocker)

>A medium-sized Internet Service Provider in the San Francisco Bay Area. now merged into Verio. We mostly sold T1 and 56K Internet connections to businesses. We were distinguished from many other early commercial providers by our common-carrier attitude: "You are free to resell the service that we provide to you, and we will not censor it." This enabled a whole crop of smaller resellers in various locales to buy from us and offer other services to the public (like modem-based Internet connections). These resellers contributed to our volume of Internet traffic, and enabled us to provide higher quality service at lower prices. TLGnet was sold to Best Internet Communications in July, 1996, and my active involvement in it ended. (Best was then bought by Hiway Technologies, which was then bought by Verio.)

You can see more of Tom's elegant technological artwork on his site here:



He co-founded a skateboarder's rights group called Shred of Dignity, which fought against San Francisco city hall and won.


>Tom Jennings: Shred of Dignity started out life as Duke Crestfield and Shawn Ford flyering to get support to stop a city-wide ban of skateboarding in San Francisco.

>Shawn Ford: I found this article about the proposed skateboarding ban. I was probably 17 or 18 and I had never been politically active. I talked to my skate friends, but they were kind of apathetic. Fucking hippies, you know? For me, the skateboard was a necessity.

>Tom Jennings: Duke made up the name, as a triple-entendre/pun, originally to be a gay skateboarders group. No, I won’t explain it.

>Shawn Ford: Duke was in his 20s and had already been politically active, so he set it up and we started collecting signatures. We met all these kids who had never been politically active, and Duke showed everybody what to do. Tom Jennings put down some money for photocopying, and within a week or two, we were taking ramps to the park and having BBQs and meetings, all with the intention of fighting this thing at City Hall.

>Tom Jennings: We overturned the ban with some of Duke’s political/theatrical maneuvers.

Tom Jennings also published a gay queer anarchist skater zine called "Homocore", which spawned a punk subculture offshoot called "Queercore", and led to Riot Grrrl.





I saw a somewhat recent interview with Jennings where he called Silicon Valley a "cult of money" now. This struck me as such a succinct label that captures the essence of the current state of things on so many levels.

Wow, thanks! Earlier FIDO stories never mentioned that Tom's later life was as inventive as Fidonet. WP's bio also notes that he 'built Wired magazine's first internet presence, wrote the portable BIOS that led to Phoenix Technologies BIOS' and is currently on the faculty at Calarts in L.A.

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