Journal: News & Comment

Monday, January 08, 2001
# 1:17:00 PM:

Permalinks to this entry: individual page or in monthly context. For more material from my journal, visit my home page or the archive.

The impersistence of memory

Okay, so my little "ten years on the Internet" post managed to be both correct in many of its facts and completely out to lunch on the timeline. (In fact, the tenth anniversary had long since passed when I posted it.) I'll let Steve -- the protagonist, who is now a Senior Systems Administrator at Simon Fraser University -- clarify:

Well, the timelines are a bit off. From my (fading) memory, it goes like this:

TZ was started on an Apple ][ in April of 1983 (I believe). It quickly expanded to use to 640k drives (big at the time). Sometime in 1984, I found an HP750 drive in the Buy & Sell for $30. It was off an HP3000 minicomputer. Since I didn't have a channel interface on my Apple (:)), I had to build an interface. That took most of my grade 12 year to perfect, so it was the summer of '85 by the time it was working. I ended up having to use a second Apple2 to control the interface and communicate with the drive. It in turn spoke to my Apple2 running TZ over a 9600bps serial line. That didn't matter much, because my modem speed was only 300bps. I set up an AE (Ascii Express) board that you got to from a menu option in TZ. The AE line managed the software that was uploaded and downloaded to/from the giant drive. I ended having to lock down the hours of the AE line to midnight-8am, since otherwise it monopolized the use of the BBS. As a result, every night at midnight, the drive spun up, and then stayed on until about 8:15am (it had a timeout that would shut down the drive after some period of inactivity).

In 1986, a lamp fell over and shorted the ground of the drive to 120v. I was never able to really revive the drive after that.

In '87, I built an IBM PC out of parts that Richard had given to me that he pulled from his clients' upgraded machines. I had a basic 4.77 Mhz PC w/ 10mb hard drive. On this, I built 'TZ 2', written entirely in assembler and using raw tracks/sectors to store messages. The board was only open to my friends - I think it gradually grew to a total of about 100 members (compared to the old one, which had some 1500). I gradually converted its storage to file-based storage and in '89, I believe, I added a freeware BBS (I can't remember it's name - begins with a 'W') that supported UUCP for e-mail and NetNews. I set it up to work with Curt Sampson's server, who in turn connected to Wimsey. Curt Sampson is still around today. I saw him again at an EnglishBay LISA meet a couple of years ago. I can't remember which ISP in Vancouver he owns.

In about '91, when I moved over to Network Operations at SFU, I stopped using Curt's server and set up a server at SFU called "". It received all mail and usenet for our 'TZ' and I would walk the data home on a floppy each night (primitive, I know).

I toyed with the wireless gear when we moved to an apartment in New West that had line-of-sight to SFU - that was the summer of '92 - but no go.

By then, of course, the Internet was well established and there were lots of avenues to get on. When we moved from New West, the server was relocated to Bob's house, but its use gradually died out as people moved fully over to the Internet (and the World Wide Web really took off)

But Derek, considering you were remembering someone else's life, more or less, you were pretty darned accurate!

Hard to believe it was so many years ago.

I now have a 3mbps link to my house, a computer that's 1000 times faster than TZ's with 1000 times more storage & 1000 times more RAM and I manage a terabyte of storage at work.

Also, another participant from the time, Richard Campbell, reports that:

I believe the drive was an HP 750, and it was originally only 20Mb, Steve did some sort of software improvement to it that got it up to 50Mb.

There you have it. I was only wrong about the hard drive by about five years! Pretty soon (in 2003), it will be the 20th anniversary of the Twilight Zone BBS -- and of the purchase of my first 300 bps modem.

Okay, enough already.


Journal Archive »

Template BBEdited on 29-Apr-2010

Site problems? Gripes? Angst? - e-mail
Site contents © 1997–2007 by Derek K. Miller

You may use content from this site non-commercially if you give me credit, under the terms of my Creative Commons license.

eXTReMe Tracker