Spending Time Online [This item

Spending Time Online

[This item was prompted by some comments Dave Winer made yesterday amplified by David Reed today.]

It’s interesting to me how my online habits have changed over the last 20 years. Let’s try to think through what’s been happening over that period of time.

Sometime in the early 1980′s I bought an Atari 400 along witn one of Don Stoner’s Microperipheral’s 300 baud modems to go with it. (Don was an amazingly creative guy. He died about three years ago.)

A while later, I got a TRS-80 Model 100 on the first day they went on sale. It also included a 300 baud modem. At the time, I was working for IBM and doing a fair amount of traveling. That Model 100 went with me almost everywhere I went. In many ways, my current Blackberry reminds me of that Model 100 — both were “freedom machines” you could take almost anywhere.

A bit later, I got my first IBM PC — initially with a Hayes SmartModem 300 and, a while later, upgraded to a Hayes SmartModem 1200.

So much for machines and modem speeds. On the other side, I was talking to CompuServe via dial-up into a local node. I also did some local BBS surfing and some late night long-distance BBS surfing. At one point I signed up for Tymnet’s night/weekend dialout service specifically designed for early online addicts like me.

I got involved in the early days of writing RBBS-PC, a bulletin board package for the IBM PC written in BASIC. I never actually ran my own BBS for any period of time — I always wanted to use my computer and phone line for dialing out!

Somewhere along the way, I had a second phone line installed after too many complaints about it being busy and too many instances of me being knocked off the line when someone at home picked up a receiver elsewhere in the house.

Back when I first had just the Atari 400 (with it’s membrane keyboard), I discovered CompuServe. They had a forum called HamNet (started by Don Stoner, W6TNS – now SK) dedicated to amateur radio. I spent a lot of time on HamNet – for some reason it became my online hangout.

I’m sure a lot of the reason HamNet was so pleasurable for me was the other folks who were also online there. We shared a lot about ham radio, our computers, etc. and the quality of the dialogue was just great. I see the AOL ads on TV now where folks talk about how they love to hear “You’ve got mail!” when they log on. I remember similar excitement when I’d logon to HamNet and see “10 messages waiting”!

HamNet is still around (it’s been available on the web for the last several years) — but, curiously, I spend very little time there any more.

[Incomplete...more to come later today..]

[Note to SJL: Think about the new comment feature in Radio Userland. Is there a "You've got Mail!" page for the Radio owner that should be created to easily present new comments that have been posted?]

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