Internet in Australia 1988

MX Records

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I was reminiscing about the early days of the internet. My first contact with the internet was around 1988. Back then trying to get the internet in Adelaide Australia was very difficult. I remember I had obtained a list of people/organisations that obviously had internet connectivity. Their full contact details were listed in the internet email MX records. But trying to get these people/organisations to provide an internet "feed" to me proved virtually impossible.

I remember working my way through the various businesses, government departments, educational facilities etc on the phone. Begging/Asking anyone/everyone for internet connectivity to my Tandy 16a Xenix computer.

Unfortunately, the Model 16a operated a Version 7 Unix (Xenix) that had been repackaged by SCO and Microsoft. Version 7 Xenix didn't come supplied with a TCP/IP stack. This complicated internet connectivity matters for me considerably.

UUCP to the rescue

However, difficulty is the mother of invention. Being an operator and user of BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) back then. I had encountered another Unix system that was acting as a BBS. The system was called Vortex, it was owned by Mark Gregson and located in Geelong Victoria. One night I found myself in a chat session with the owner (Mark) who informed me that he had obtained an internet feed from a local University.

I asked him if I would be able to “hook up” to his Unix system so that I could grab Usenet News and Email. He agreed to this. We began to UUCP between Adelaide and Geelong via 2400baud modem. At this point a friend (Daryl Tester) compiled some C to sort and toss the data into email. I could then distribute that “Usenet news” to other local enthusiasts Unix computers that were located in and around Adelaide.

I guess you can kinda blame me for a few people in Adelaide having Xenix computers back then. lol. Over time I had upgraded the Xenix hardware and software. Hardware wise, I went from a Tandy 16a to a 16B and then to a Model 6000. Sofware wise, I went from Xenix Version 7 to Xenix System III. I passed on older hardware to my (soon to be) Unix guru friends. lol

Mini Network

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I ended up selling machines that I had collected and rejected to other computer enthusiast friends. In the end we had 4-5 Xenix systems in twice daily modem communications with each other. Each would call my system after I picked up "todays feed". We were a tight knit little community with our mini network of Adelaide based Xenix systems. lol

We operated this way until 1991. At that time I transfered with my work to Sydney. After only a couple of calls to Geelong from Sydney on the Model 6000, with no-one bothering to call Sydney from Adelaide to pickup waiting traffic. I gave up on the old Xenix System III hardware and private/public networking and started concentrating on 80286/80386 based Xenix System V in my workplace.

Eventually, I saw Linux come up from 2 floppy disks (Version 0.97/0.98) to what we have today. (and with a TCP/IP stack too) Luckily, with the improvments of Linux, I have never had to look back at Xenix and UUCP again. I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. Thats how hard it was for me to get internet access in 1988. lol

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