Interesting experiences with early “interwebs”! My first experience was just pre-Internet in late 1986. I was hired as a Research Officer [background in medicine & psychology, not programming] by a department at Flinders Medical Centre to set up a computer database of information on a specific research topic.

The db would have to be accessible between offices at FMC and at the Repat Hospital in Daw Park. I’d previously had a bit of experience logging into the UniSA computer system at Magill via modem to do statistics crunching, plus I’d been programming and using the early Apple computers like the IIe etc, with the cassette memory!

Then my partner, who became a systems analyst at Adelaide Uni library, brought home a VT220 so he could be on call 24 hours a day at weekends. With the help of Mike Wiseman at Flinders Uni, I was able to submit jobs to a Flinders processor and to send and receive files via TCP/IP using Vi and Emacs- I used the anonymous file server that was always the great fallback for sending large files around.

Between Flinders Medical and Repat, we had Telecom put in a dedicated dataline at Repat to separate the wires from the busy switchboard there and Flinders agreed to a modem line through their switchboard, although we started with a direct line which our research money paid for installation at FMC!

It was a complicated business, as we had Mac desktop computers, but the database system was only available for 286/386 (do you remember “Status” [text-searching and concatenation], another product of CERN and British Atomic Energy Commission?) Anyway, I managed to figure out how to configure all this stuff and we had a program that Mike Wiseman hadn’t tried out yet given to us to link the 2 hospitals- can’t remember its name now.

Meanwhile, I had heard about AARNET and tunneled my way through the wires of Adelaide so I could talk to some random others who had similar quirky access! I was able to get onto early Usenets and BBSs via universities all over the globe, obviously mostly via satellite and very unpredictable! Then the early versions of Mozilla and the like came out and more connectivity allowed the REAL Internet to arrive, with modems becoming faster by the week!

It seems hard to imagine that time now, but it certainly makes me marvel at how everyone these days takes the Internet, email and cable/satellite TV so much for granted! Who needs an oscilloscope to find out how fast a line is any more?? I was very glad of my 1st year physics!

Murfomurf. 2011-07-03 08:07 UTC.

Fantastic story Murfomurf Thank you for sharing it here. The VT220 brings back memories.. We had a few VT100’s and various other terminals I’d picked up. Brings back memories of wandering thru the termcap file. lol Cheers..

lazerzap. 2011-07-03 13:58 UTC.


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