In which it all starts happening too fast
College happened for me in 1988, when I graduated from three wonderful years at Horace Greeley High
School and got into Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. I moved up there for my freshman year
and never went back; I live in that state to this day. With this move came a dorm room, no home
computer the first semester (my father thought it would be distracting) and, of course, the end of
the Works BBS. I closed it up, and in one of those situations that smacks of utter irony, my father
disposed of the hard drive of the computer, losing that part of my history permanently.
At Emerson, I came to eventually use the occasional bulletin board system, but the day to day living
on them ceased. Instead, I learned about what we now think of as the Internet, that globally connected
set of machines that allow people to be sitting at one computer and connect to many others. But in 1989
it was a very different place. For someone who'd come up through bulletin boards, the discussions of
Usenet, the speed of file transfer, the depth of UNIX, the instantaneous connections, were mind blowing.
BBSes didn't have a chance; I was on the Internet to stay.
As I turned away from BBSes, one or two still stayed in my sights. A chance meeting on a computer
bulletin board put me in touch with one Dave Weinstock, later Dave Ferret, who offered to bring The Works
BBS back from the dead. I gave him my floppy backups of the BBS and he did so, running the BBS for
years and years, bringing it a fame and putting me in the initially uncomfortable position of emeritis
administrator. I watched a new generation live the amazing life I had, but ten years later and
with much better equipment. And a massive multi-line BBS in the Boston area called Argus, with its
dozens of phone lines and conferencing rooms, gave me a local place to hang out with the knowledge
that everyone there was probably in the city as well. For all its miracles, the Internet was never quite
so good at that side of things.
But it was good at so much more, and as the years went by, I watched it stun me further and further
with what so many great minds could produce. I used a protocol named Gopher that allowed you to traverse
computers as easily as a menu, and then watched this upstart called The World Wide Web stumble in years
later and eat Gopher's lunch. I gained accounts on computers all over, posted to message bases, and
watched the Web grow from a stack of grey pages into multi-colored sound and graphic extravaganzas.
Where once a night of calling bulletin boards would yield me a handful of paragraphs, I was heading
through what seemed like endless growing collections at a rate that put my previous years to shame.
By 1998, I'd been on the Internet for about 10 years. I'd used computers of one sort or another
for something like 20. I was, as people sometimes feel at that age, a hardened veteran and world-weary
traveler, wishing he could go back to simpler times when just seeing text moving slowly across the
screen opened a world. I missed the BBS years. I missed my BBS. I decided to go see what this massive
world wide web had to say about that time.
It didn't have much to say at all.
Learn about the website I put up....