The Internet That Was: 1981-82

I recently stumbled across an archive of Usenet posts, mostly from around 1981. They’re archived using the Gopher protocol, so you most likely have to use one of the Mozilla-based browsers like Firefox, Seamonkey, etc. to be able to access them. Many of them are incredibly amusing from a historical standpoint. For instance, in the NET.music archive, there’s the following from April 1982:

I came across a record a few months ago by BOW-WOW-WOW.
After an initial readjustment period I became quite
happy with it.  It's name was something like "See jungle,
go ape crazy" (I taped it and lost the title).  Anyone
else hear this album?  Do they have any other albums?
Any of them worth a listen?  I fear that this is the kind
of group that you could get tired of real fast.

I love the assessment of Bow-Wow-Wow as “the kind of group that you could get tired of real fast,” as well as the simple fact that someone once felt compelled to ask of the band, “Anyone else hear this?” Here’s a history lesson for you, kids: once upon a time (when we had to walk eight miles each way to school through ten foot high snowdrifts every day, even in May) we used to buy music on these 12″ diameter things called “record albums,” and then we would make copies of them on cassette tapes to share with people and listen to in our portable Walkmans and boom boxes. It was like the peer-to-peer file sharing network of its day.

There’s also a review of an Asia concert (!) by a Steve Howe fanboy (who wouldn’t be a “boy” anymore, because he’s now 28 years older than whatever age he was at the show), as well as the prices and information you needed back then to subscribe to the Computer Music Journal (Journals Department, The MIT Press, 28 Carleton Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142 — I dare you to send something there now and see what happens, since the address is different now).

The fact that everything’s archived on a Gopher server makes it even more awesome. I once attempted to explain to my sister, who’s about 10 years younger than me, how during my freshman year of college (1995-96), our whole campus computer network consisted of VAX terminals, and that the Internet as we had it was all text in the form of something called Gopher rather than the World Wide Web as we know it today. She couldn’t fathom how people managed to exist like that.

Random little side note: I still insist on using the Weather Underground website and iCal feed today to get weather forecasts and updates on conditions, mostly because that was what we had available at school through Gopher when I first started using the Internet as a college freshman, and even today getting weather information online through any other venue just doesn’t feel right for some bizarre reason.

Attributive legalese: The Usenet archive stuff linked to and quoted here is from The Usenet Oldnews Archive: Compilation Copyright (C) 1981, 1996 — Bruce Jones, Henry Spenser, David Wiseman

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One Response to “The Internet That Was: 1981-82”

  1. The Internet That Was: 1981-82 (via A Tale Told by an Idiot) « Chicago Mac/PC Support Says:

    […] I recently stumbled across an archive of Usenet posts, mostly from around 1981. They're archived using the Gopher protocol, so you most likely have to use one of the Mozilla-based browsers like Firefox, Seamonkey, etc. to be able to access them. Many of them are incredibly amusing from a historical standpoint. For instance, in the NET.music archive, there's the following from April 1982: I came across a record a few months ago by BOW-WOW-WOW. Aft … Read More […]

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