I was a BBS sysop (system administrator) in the late 80's/early 90's, and my system was connected to a global network which allowed people to exchange messages and files... and that network was called FidoNet. But in August 1993, I obtained dialup access to the internet, and got a glimpse of the future. I proceeded to rave about "Internet" in R55_SYSOP, the local FidoNet sysop's conference (newsgroup), as below (I've added the bolding). In the first section, aside from dissing Fido, I note that there can only be one internet, and foreshadow broadband, Everquest/WoW etc, and Skype.
Date: Tue 4 Jan 94 11:01 By: Stuart Udall To: Simon Shaw Re: Internet --------------------------------------------------------------------------- [...] SS> I don't think we can continue on the same track for much longer. SS> Already more people are moving to internet. Mmm. Why do the same thing with lower quality tools, basically. Internet seems to do everything FidoNet does, but it does it better! I guess for the more obscure machines Internet is still not viable, but for the average PC there is no problem. And with the advent of Linux and other cheap unixes... running an "internet bbs", or connecting directly to internet hosts, is easy. [...] FidoNet aspires to internet, but cannot compete, the amateur factor keeps budgets relatively low .. so while internet has no problem moving megs of data a minute, FidoNet bitches everytime someone sends a netmail over 10k... and turnaround is measured in DAYS... Have a look in FidoNews, every editor has provided an Internet address to send to, they have a special Internet/FidoNet help node, and almost every article has an Internet address next to the author's name. How often is it that the shareware you just used says "email to firstname.lastname@example.org" instead of "email to x:y/ z". And what does Fido do for kicks now anyway... suck files direct from binary newsgroups and send them via its file transport system... suck messages directly from newsgroups and gate them into FidoNet conferences. > I'm not saying that BBS's should all close up shop, we'll always have > our place, There is a distinction here, I think BBSs will continue, but they'll just be connected to the internet instead. In the end there can only ever really be one network. I think everyone is realising that Internet is it, even people in the newsgroups talking about the "commercialisation and privatisation" of internet (along with concerns about s/n ratios) mention ["the old"] UseNet, ARPAnet, JANET, AARNet ... but they all defer to the name 'internet' ... when talking about the collective of all these networks. And it really is impressive when you see a new file format, .dl or something and the author is there, you ask him about it and while you're still online the viewer is emailed to you and he says hi from Canada. Who knows what will happen when ISDN replaces the PSTN. Real-time global video-conferencing from your own home? 100,000-player Doom? The mind boggles. Regards, Stuart email@example.com --- * Origin: optimised for style (3:690/196)
January 20, 1994: more about the Internet in R55_SYSOP. Here I note the usefulness of the "search" function (Yahoo and Google were not yet invented, however), and the internet's coming ubiquity, and commence my search for an "internet client" (now known as a "web browser").
Date: Thu 20 Jan 94 4:57 By: Stuart Udall To: Colin Wheat Re: Internet --------------------------------------------------------------------------- > SU>> Internet seems to do everything FidoNet does > Both Stuart's and Simon's comments on this point were from the > 'sysops' perspective, IMV, so that both the user's perspective and > the '(BBS)system operator hobby' functions were ignored. Yep. There's not really room for running your own system, unless you want to either set it up for yourself, or start a rival site. Substantial hardware investment required in this case. [...] When you say from a sysops perspective, I agree in that the tools for doing bbs-like things are all there and it's all pretty reliable. But it's also from a user's perspective.. there is so much more of everything... and it is much more accessible! No more calling the US for files, just get some mail server to do it and you don't even need to log onto the US site directly. Everything is done through email. And you can search a database for files and their location. [...] Internet is "what's after" FidoNet. > Looking from the user's point of view, there's much value in the > traditional 'fidonet technology' BBS function. Most would have little > to no hope of handling the traditional internet interface, let alone > using it for anything worthwhile. Agreed. In terms of usability internet sucks. But it's not really the internet, it's the interface. Like I'm sure most X-clients don't need to worry about the command prompt any more than Windows users do. In a technical sense, internet itself is far superior. > Communications experts in the US have suggested that BBS's may well > form the front line for the developing 'world net' BBS-style perhaps. Unless the systems are linked together, they aren't part of the net, and I can't see Internet losing its role, and lead, in this area. > this light, Fidonet and the worldwide BBS community in general may > well simply adopt the internet Yes, I had wondered about running FidoNet on top of the Internet. There's no reason why it couldn't happen, but one must wonder what is the point. Internet already has everything FidoNet has, except its power heirarchy of course. More software is needed before FidoNet is dead, though. Clean, reliable tools are needed to link dialup BBSs with dialup internet sites. And a BBS-style package that can present the Internet to the end-user in pull-down menus and context-sensitive help and all that stuff. Perhaps a 'client' on the dialup user's system, so the user can use the Internet in Windows. > Granted the Internet > has it's own set of high value services to offer, but there's little > hope of direct novice access Surely you jest, I knew _nothing_ about unix or the Internet when I started. I still know very little. Anyone can get an account on Internet 'nowadays'. > not that that has ever been the intent. The original intent of the Internet is long gone. Now, it just 'is'. [...] > changing conditions. As _the_ major novice access point to global > communications, BBS's and Fidonet have much to look forward to. I don't think BBS systems will die. If I said that earlier, I take it back, I was wrong. They will flourish, but they will be connected to the Internet somehow, and FidoNet will be no more. It will be redundant. Sure some people might continue to run Binkley and exchange messages in their little cliques, but they can do that on the Internet, do it faster, more reliably, do it with other people everywhere, and pay a local call fee. Plus get files from anywhere in 24 hours or less. FidoNet is like a 5.25" diskette: good, once. The tools aren't here now, but the writing is most definitely on the wall. Regards, Stuart. --- * Origin: optimised for style (3:690/196)
February 8, 1994: more about the Internet in R55_SYSOP. Here, I am still searchin' for a "nice GUI-based frontend" (web browser) ... it would be another year before I installed Netscape. And two months after that, I started this website.
Date: Tue 8 Feb 94 3:39 By: Stuart Udall To: Ted Russ Re: the future --------------------------------------------------------------------------- [...] > As I said - sysops need to decide now if they want the > established order to be at the forefront, or if they want a new breed > (which may not be to our liking) of commercial system to push us out Yes. It's going to be interesting to see what Internet does. It has the potential to eliminate FidoNet, BBS's and Sysops altogether. Its power is cloaked in a Unix command prompt, if it becomes easy for an end user to connect to the Internet, ie when a nice GUI-based frontend appears, there may not be a future for us [sysops] at all. [...]