Saturday, May 14, 2011 : relive the pre-web net!

Not to yet again brand myself as an ancient, but when I got my first computer (a Tandy Color Computer) the connected world was a much simpler place. I had a 300 baud modem and a CompuServe account which cost me an arm and a leg. This was around 1981. I soon discovered BBS's and saved a bunch of money.

This thing called the internet ran on leased 56K phone lines and one had to be at a research or defense facility or employed by the government or military to gain access to it. The "world wide web" wouldn't appear for another 10 years.

If you knew someone, you might have access to something a bit more connected than just a BBS. Around the time my oldest was born I had a sibling who worked at a local university and he gave me the dial in number for the library computer. With a little judicious poking around all sorts of interesting things could be found. has put together a blast from the past - a javascript based emulator for that yesteryear of computing fun. Using your web-browser, you can log in, create an account and then hack into simulations of computers from by-gone times. Says the initial screen:

Telehack is a simulation of a stylized arpanet/usenet, circa 1985-1990. It is a full multi-user simulation, including 25,000 hosts and BBS's the early net, thousands of files from the era, a collection of adventure and IF games, a working BASIC interpreter with a library of programs to run, simulated historical users, and more.
It's an impressive feat! I wasted more time than I care to admit this morning. Be sure and check out the "wardial" and "porthack" commands, which let you simulate hacking into some of the 25,000 hosts they have recreated.

Note that the accounts you create, both on and the simulated hosts, don't stick around. If you close your browser and log in later you'll need to create the account again and re-hack any systems you had your way with. If you found this interesting, you may enjoy TEXTFILES.COM as well.

For the truly hard core, you can access the Telehack system via telnet as well.

Remember,  real men use the command line.

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