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Reader Feedback: Internet Memories

Last week's post on the ultimate demise of Netscape got readers into a nostalgic mood. Since it's a slow-ish news day, let's jump right into your Internet memories:

First off, Mike from Finland writes again, this time to correct RCPU on an extremely important point. RCPU referred to pop legends ABBA as "four singing Swedes" -- when, in fact, one of the ladies in the group was actually Norwegian (and therefore probably should have had a place in another recent entry).

"Completely irrelevant to anything, of course, but Anni-Frid was Norwegian, not Swedish. I worked in Sweden in those long-off days (in my case '75 to '80), and my memories of that song include driving a Volvo (what else?) through Paris with the windows wide open and playing that song [in this case, 'Fernando' -LP] at semi-full power. (I worked three weeks in Paris, three weeks back in Sweden for about 18 months in '78 to '79)."

Semi-full power, Mike? Heck, you should have cranked it! Your editor is an unashamed ABBA fan and actually knew that one of the band members was Norwegian but simply made a careless, sloppy error last week. So, we thank Mike for his diligence in sorting Scandinavian singers. That's what RCPU is all about.

Mitch, presumably not Norwegian, wrote to say that he was on the Internet before he wasn't on it...or something like that:

"In 1984, I was thrown into IT with an assignment to become the administrator of a BSD UNIX system. One of my jobs was to log in to the University of California at Berkeley to get periodic OS patches, updates and, of course, the latest database of jokes for the 'fortune' application. I went through a whole transition of connection methods from ARPAnet, UUCP and NSF connection betas as part of my monthly routines. I recall doing a 'who' statement while logged in to find someone at Berkeley who was online to get support. At that time, between 2 and 4 a.m. CST, there would be less than a screen full (yes, 25 lines) of people active.

"In 1993/1994, I was out of the country on business for an extended period. A gentleman from the local phone company and I struck up a conversation over breakfast and he posed the question, 'How do I get on the Internet?' At the time, I had taken off my IT hat for a new occupation, and I didn't even know what he was talking about! A year later, after returning back to the U.S., it seemed like the term 'Internet' was in everything I read. I was moving back into IT and it seemed the world had passed me by in the two years I was away."

It did explode quickly, didn't it? Peter, RCPU's neighbor here in Greater Boston, said that being an "early adopter" of the Internet got him at least one, uh, perk:

"At a meeting of a hundred or so folks way back in the '80s, the meeting sponsor was looking for a few people to test a beta. This was before beta testing became an event for the masses; back then, you needed to sign your first born away along with a few hundred non-disclosure statements. Anyway, I was chosen for one reason: I was the only person there who had an e-mail address printed on my business card."

Another Mike, probably not from Finland, finishes off our trip down memory lane with some pleasant ramblings that should be followed by a sigh and maybe a sip of a lovely beverage:

"Well, there were many DARPA users (and hackers), and many probably still really hate the fact that it changed. As you know, most were .gov- and .edu-type in those days (UNIX mostly). So, not to take away anything from Andreessen (and Clark), but for those of us who were in the corporate world on protected networks (IBM SNA in my case all the way through the '80s), I think the real introduction to public networking and access to many useful resources and collaboration came through the old bulletin-board systems.

"Xmodem and its derivatives were the downloading tool of choice for binary stuff when PCs became popular in the early '80s. I would venture to say that these same folks populated many of the Inet communities starting in 1990 or thereabouts and heavily influenced the Inet world as we know it today (along with folks like Bob Metcalf of Ethernet fame and his contemporaries). When the corporate nets started converting to IP, the Inet received a lot of business traffic (sometimes disguised as personal use)...anyway, not necessarily the driving force, so to speak, but certainly related and a different perspective.

"I do remember Netscape (and Sun, I guess) and its JavaScript 1.2 implementations, and it is certainly true that for many the Web browser and the Inet were synonymous...and probably still are for many of today's users. 'The king is dead; long live the king.'"

Long indeed, Mike. Thanks to all who shared their memories. If you've got anything to add on this topic or any other you see in RCPU, add it at

Posted by Lee Pender on January 10, 2008 at 11:54 AM