dial-up experiences (was Re: question aaout ISP's)
wh.sudbrink at verizon.net
Thu Aug 7 22:52:01 CDT 2008
At the risk of boring those who have read it before...
Procedure For Connecting To The 'net Circa 1978
(That's the ARPANET for all you young whipper-snappers.
What we called the internet before they let all of the
Do not begin this procedure before 11PM. This avoids
conflicts over telephone usage with your parents. Net
resources are generally not available to "tourists" before
this time anyway. Resource availability is generally best
on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and holidays.
Keep an ear open for police sirens. Rumor has it that the
FCC will come and arrest you (and/or your parents) if it
detects illegal equipment attached to the telephone system.
Another reason to operate late at night, they probably aren't
1) Move your computer from your bedroom to the kitchen
table (that's where the phone is!). Don't connect power
to the modem yet, it produces a carrier whenever it is
powered and you need to be able to hear the far end of
the telephone connection when you first dial. Also, you
want it to be cool when you initiate the connection.
2) Take the handset off of the hook and replace it with the
piece of broomstick that you fashioned for that purpose.
3) Get a big towel from the linen closet. Fold it into
quarters and put the handset on it. Attach the speaker
and microphone to the handset with wide rubber bands.
Fold the towel over the handset. This will prevent
various ambient sounds (like the sound of typing) from
introducing noise on the line.
4) Being sure that the cassette/modem switch (a DPDT switch
that connects the transmit and receive pins of the USART
to either the cassette interface or the modem) is in the
cassette position, load the terminal program. Run the
program. You are greeted with a blank screen (this is
normal but you can't be 100% sure that it loaded correctly
until you have connected). Switch the cassette/modem switch
to modem. You may see a few garbage characters on the
screen (that's a good sign).
5) Get an ice cube from the freezer, put it in a sandwich bag
and put it on the towel next to the modem.
6) Remove the broom stick from the telephone hook and dial the
NBS (National Bureau of Standards) TIP (Terminal Interface
Processor). Listen for the call to be answered and for the
carrier on the far end. Sometimes the TIP is down and won't
answer, sometimes it is down and will answer but won't give
a carrier. If it's down, wait an hour and try again.
7) If you get a carrier, apply power to the modem. Start
pressing the @ (at) key once a second until it is echoed
on your screen. Listen for the chirp when you press the
key. If you don't hear it, the terminal program isn't running
correctly, hang up, unpower the modem, reset the computer and
go back to step 4.
8) Once the @ character is echoed, press enter. You should get
an error message (I no longer remember the text). Now type
"@O 77<return>". This instructs the TIP to connect you to the
MIT-DM (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dynamic Modeling)
9) Start pressing the return key once a second until you get a
logon prompt (I no longer remember the prompt text). The user
name and password are GUEST.
10) Once logged on, wait for a minute or two, pressing enter every
ten seconds or so. This gives the operator a chance to notice
you and kick you off if the system is busy. If he's in a chatty
mood, you'll get a message like "The system's busy, get lost!".
If not, your connection will just die. If the system is busy,
try again in an hour or so.
11) I no longer remember how to start up Zork or some of the other
programs... anyone feel free to provide details I'm missing.
Keep an ear on the connection. If the carrier starts to change
pitch, wipe any condensation off the ice cube bag on the towel
and then apply to the smaller chip on the right on the modem
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