Discussion Topic of the Week: What ISP did you use to first connect to the Internet?
Internet Archive's Historical Software Collection is the Best Thing That Has Ever Happened to Software PreservationNovember 26th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
The collection puts dozens of vintage computer games and applications at your fingertips by allowing you to run them, emulated, from a browser window. It's a huge step forward for preserving the heritage of our software culture. Here, ease-of-access is key.
I've been horribly remiss by not mentioning this earlier — but better late than never for something this important.
In my early BBS days, I started using a 2400 bps external modem hooked to the serial port of a PC clone. A few years later, I switched to an external Intel 14,400 bps modem. Then I believe I got a Creative Labs Modem Blaster kit with an internal 28,800 bps modem on an ISA card. After that I moved up to 33,600 with some generic Winmodem, then 56,000 bps.
In 2000, I signed up for my first cable modem service…and the rest is history.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What speed was your first modem?
Back in the mid-late 1990s, an Internet-based BBS platform called Hotline sprung up and quickly spread throughout the Macintosh community. It was basically a client/server BBS software suite that allowed for multi-user chat, file transfers, and message boards.
By the early 2000s, though, Hotline had mostly died out. Today, only a handful of servers remain. But guess what? You can still connect to them — on Windows or a Mac. A new article I wrote for Macworld, "Hotline Revisted," tells you how.
Have fun. Remember to be kind to the Hotline veterans when you visit.
In 2006, I wrote about a version of the classic Prodigy game MadMaze that had been adapted for the web by Russell D. Brown, an electronics engineer based in Rome, New York.
Just today, a commenter on that original post (thanks Joshua) let me know that Russell Brown passed away last year on July 1st. That means his implementation of MadMaze-II is now offline.
(Please note that the original author of MadMaze, Greg Costikyan, is still alive and kicking as far as I know.)
Luckily for all of us, I asked Russel Brown back in 2011 to share his MadMaze-II code with me in case his version of the game ever went down. He complied, and I have just now set up a fresh copy of his adaptation on this web server at the following address: http://www.vintagecomputing.com/madmaze/.
The game still requires Internet Explorer 5 or up, and it seems to work in IE 9 for me. Brown programmed the game in such a way that obfuscated its function to prevent cheating (he even incorporated a copy protection scheme), so at the moment I have no idea how to successfully modify it if players find any bugs. But if you encounter any problems, please feel free to let me know, and I'll have a look.
Have fun in the maze. And may Russell Brown rest in peace.
Long ago, scanners were rare and expensive. Consumer digital cameras were mostly non-existent — and those that did exist were impractical to use or expensive.
At the same time, many users possessed computers with (relatively speaking) high-resolution bitmapped displays that craved content. In time, those machines gained color capability and could display dazzlingly beautiful works of digital art.
Ten years ago today, I opened an experimental music website called Request-A-Song.com. On the site, my brother Jeremy and I solicited song titles (just titles, not lyrics), which site visitors would submit via a web form. We'd pick the ones we found most inspiring and write songs based on them, then publish them on the site in MP3 format. The project lasted until December 2005.
As you might expect, a lot of very interesting and unusual songs came out of the process. You can tell just by reading the titles of our most popular songs — names like "Butter Ghost," "Violent House Panda," "Poke 'Em In The Neck," and "I Flipped My Biscuit" — that we preferred ideas on the bizarre end of the spectrum.
In honor of our 10th anniversary, I've uploaded all 134 of our songs to The Internet Archive with the hope that it will preserve our effort for posterity.
You can still download those songs from the original Request-A-Song.com website (which also provides information on who requested what and when, lyrics, and dates of release), but it's actually easier to explore our catalog with the IA's handy online streaming MP3 app.
(If you want to know which songs to listen to first, here is a list of our 25 most popular songs.)
Over the next month, I plan on uploading more RAS information to the Internet Archive, including news archives, press clippings, song metadata, images, and more.
Up now on PCWorld.com is a slideshow (created by yours truly) to celebrate these anniversaries by examining the world of computerized social networking in the pre-Web era. It covers the usual suspects like Usenet, CompuServe, and BBSes, plus some surprising early services of which you may not have heard. I hope you enjoy it.
As a side note, I'd like to add that this will be my last slideshow edited by Ed Albro, my long-time PC World editor whom I have worked with since 2008. It's been a pleasure working with Ed, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
I don't know if anybody out there knows this, but some years ago, I created a music site called Request-A-Song.com (RAS). My brother Jeremy and I wrote original songs based on visitor suggestions, recorded them, and put them up on the site in MP3 format. We usually treated serious requests humorously, and humorous requests seriously, which thoroughly confused everybody (Hence RAS's amazing success, and why you've no doubt heard of it many times). Sadly, our heyday was before the Digg, YouTube, MySpace, and ubiquitous blog explosion, which would have undoubtedly helped us promote our music and unique concept.
I'm only mentioning this now because it deals with something at least slightly on-topic for VC&G — computer history. Mike (aka Dr. Macenstein), over at the Macenstein blog, recently put together a video for my tongue-in-cheek song, "Ellen Feiss Makes Me Hot," which I released back in 2003 (yes, almost five years ago). It's about the famous Mac switcher who appeared in an Apple advertisement around the time. Essentially, people thought the commercial was funny because Ms. Feiss looked like she was stoned while filming.