FidoNet [was: History [was Re: strangest systems I've sent email from]]

Tomasz Rola rtomek at
Sat Apr 30 21:23:59 CDT 2016

On Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 10:07:34AM -0700, geneb wrote:
> On Wed, 27 Apr 2016, Sean Conner wrote:
> > Just look into the political machinations of what was known as FidoNet to
> >see how this could end up.
> >
> What IS known as FidoNet (1:138/142 here. :) ) and it's still a
> political shit-show, mostly due to people from Zone 2. *sigh*

Pardon my ignorant question but is there a place on the net where I
could read some more about it? Or maybe it is short enough to explain

And on-topic: I have some memories about reading my email by dialing
up special account on my uni (decades ago) with 14.4k ISA modem under
DOS, without hardware error correction. Hw e. c. was too costly for me
and I naively believed I could get away with cheaper modem. Phone
lines in Poland at that time (mid 1990ies) were rather shitty - apart
from lots of noise the only telecom operator in a country used to put
few end users on same pair of wires (or something like this), which
reduced available bandwith even more. So I dialed up that account,
choose a system to log in and logged in, typed mailx, read quickly
quickly quickly. If I was lucky, I could read what I wanted (short
mail from fellow student about project progress and the like) before
some electric crack sent my modem into stupor. Sometimes it did not
disconnect properly and I had to manually pick up a phone to help it.

I believe I used... control software that came with modem, if memory
serves. It allowed me to actually see a stream coming from the
modem. Ugly, some characters mangled. Was meant to dial BBSes. ATDT
and off we go. Or on.

Later on, my troubles somehow vanished because I learned how to use ppp
from Linux to connect to other dialup number set up by the same
monopolistic operator (who thus became country wide ISP). Much
better. Hangups were very rare even with the same cheap modem, even if
bandwith was shared with few neighbors... I disliked them anyway
because they charged for every two minutes, no night tariffe, no local
tariffe, nothing like this.

Linux was a real blessing at that time [1], a natural upgrade path for
someone who got a lick of multitasking on Amiga and upgraded to
university SunOS workstation (with short episode on VAX, where I used
to grab two neighboring terminals to edit on one and compile on
another). I used to amuse myself about poor folks working at PC
computers, when general Failure prompted them to abort or retry, or if
they dared so, to fail. I have also bought me a better modem, external
Zoom 56K, but even this one could not perform at maximal speed because
of sharing wire, again. Few years later I took revenge on my telecom
and switched to ADSL, 256kbps. It is 30Mbps now, after a series of
upgrades. Or maybe 60Mbps? I somehow do not care so much
anymore... Iso images come down the wire really fast, though.

Now, thanks to double NAT (one in my router, one in theirs and third
one somewhere nearby, if I read traceroute etc correctly) I do not
think about running any services locally. Besides I believe it would
have been great PITA and mostly done for showing up, because I do not
even have a website (or anything justyfing setting one up). I miss
gopher and archie, used them a lot back in days of modem (but not when
dialing up, obviously). I also miss internet without javascript and
with manually written pages optimized to load fast.

A new strange, or normal, way to read stuff is now in terminal
emulator, mutt over ssh. Nothing really strange. It was much stranger
when I could not ssh (for whatever reason) and had to check mail via
webmail. I am a compulsive email reader and use to hoard few thousand
a month (around 10 if that interests anybody) - I do not think my
computer ever heard so much swearing as during those long moments of
waiting for server to show me sorted list of my emails...

[1] However, given how things evolve, I somehow wish I tried BSD. I
became so entrenched into Linux, that migration is a not so trivial

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at             **

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