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Barry Shein Founded the First Dialup ISP (Video)

Roblimo posted about 5 months ago | from the not-everybody-loved-the-idea-of-putting-the-masses-online dept.

Networking 116

Back in the dawn of prehistory, only universities, government agencies, and a few big corporations could get on the Internet. The rest of us either had computers connected to nothing (except maybe an electric outlet), Compuserve, Prodigy, AOL or another service or possibly to an online bulletin board service (BBS). And then, one day in 1989, Barry Shein hooked a server and some modems to an Internet node he managed for a corporate/academic wholesale Internet provider -- and started selling dialup accounts for $20 per month to individuals, small companies, and just about anyone else who came along. Barry called his ISP The World, which is still out there with a retro home page ("Page last modified April 27, 2006"), still selling shell accounts. We may run a second interview with Barry next week, so please stay tuned. (Alternate Video Link)

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First? (5, Interesting)

shameless (100182) | about 5 months ago | (#47603081)

I want to say "First", but I also want to say that I knew Barry back when he started this whole thing. Congrats on your staying power!

Re:First? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47604477)

BITNET

1984 ?

Re:First? (2)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47604905)

BITNET

1984 ?

BITNET routed IP packets onto the Internet in 1984?

(Remember, unless you Provide a Service that routes packets onto the Internet, you're not an ISP. You may be a UUCP service provider, you may be a BITNET service provider, you may be a BBS service provider, and that all may be very important, but you're not an Internet service provider, as per the "ISP" in the title of this article, unless you let your customers send IP datagrams onto the Internet; relaying mail onto the Internet, while an extremely useful service, is not sufficient to qualify you as an ISP.)

Re:First? (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606385)

If /. allowed caps you'd see a BIFF@BIT.NET post here.

So you won't.

more like 1987 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603113)

recalling meeting someone in 1987 already doing this?

Re:more like 1987 (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | about 5 months ago | (#47604335)

Yeah, not the first. There were multiple public ISPs in Portland in 1989. PDxs, agora, Teleport...

One is still around, nearly 30 years later - Raindrop Laboratories http://www.rdrop.com/ [rdrop.com] still has its "vintage" mid '90s web page, too. (It has been around since 1985.)

Re:more like 1987 (2)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47604899)

Yeah, not the first. There were multiple public ISPs in Portland in 1989. PDxs, agora, Teleport...

One is still around, nearly 30 years later - Raindrop Laboratories http://www.rdrop.com/ [rdrop.com] still has its "vintage" mid '90s web page, too. (It has been around since 1985.)

If you follow the "Alan Batie [batie.org] " link from RainDrop's home page, and then follow his "agora [batie.org] " link from "I work at Peak Internet, a local ISP in Corvallis, Oregon. I also run a small ISP in Portland, Oregon, called RainDrop Laboratories. It started in 1985 as a public access system called Agora, while I was working at Intel.", it speaks of agora's RainNet Internet access starting in 1990 - "Now that our subject had SVR4, with TCP/IP and all, and there being several other hacker sorts around town who'd been eyeing the Internet with envy for sometime, it was time to see if something could be done locally. RAINet was thus born in the fall of 1990, and its first connection was a 2400 bps SLIP link between agora and parsely (another local public access system, owned by Tod Oace at the time)."

(Remember, unless you actually Provide a Service that lets you send IP packets onto the Internet, you're not an Internet Service Provider. Dialup BBSes don't count, UUCP doesn't count, only SLIP/PPP/bridged Ethernet/PPPoEoAoDSL/PPPoAoDSL/DOCSIS/etc. so that you can splat out one of these things [ietf.org] - or one of these things [ietf.org] - onto the Internet counts.)

Re:more like 1987 (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606395)

Lots of guys did - Karl Denninger in Chicago and Greg Laskin LA. But they were UUCP not IP connections.

Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603155)

I think AOL was the first to do this...

Re:Uh... (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | about 5 months ago | (#47603197)

IIRC, AOL didn't offer actual internet access until pretty late in the game.

Re:Uh... (1)

Bo Wells (2968019) | about 5 months ago | (#47603373)

The September that never ended. I think Green Day wrote a song about it.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603461)

Are you referring to "Wake Me Up When September Ends"?

Re:Uh... (1)

bonehead (6382) | about 5 months ago | (#47604603)

IIRC, AOL didn't offer actual internet access until pretty late in the game.

VERY late in the game.

And when it finally happened, that's the day that the Internet transformed from something great into the ghetto of spam, scams, and ads that it is today.

And, yes... GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!

Re:Uh... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47606677)

That's just your aged bias. It was a ghetto of spam, scan and ads before AOL hooked into the internet.

Re:Uh... (1)

OakDragon (885217) | about 5 months ago | (#47606839)

And when it finally happened, that's the day that the Internet transformed from something great into the ghetto of spam, scams, and ads that it is today.

Another great invention for the masses ruined by the masses.

Re:Uh... (1)

Cramer (69040) | about 5 months ago | (#47605101)

Indeed. Somewhere circa 1997(?) -- It was a dark day for the internet: people too stupid to be on the internet were now pooping all over it.

Re:Uh... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 months ago | (#47606895)

Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Is this working?

Re:Uh... (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | about 5 months ago | (#47606599)

IIRC, AOL didn't offer actual internet access until pretty late in the game.

Today's date is Tue Sep 7644 07:32:08 PDT 1993

Re:Uh...try again (4, Interesting)

Maxwell (13985) | about 5 months ago | (#47603219)

Think again. AOL, prodigy, compuserve were all proprietary, isolated systems. They did not provide internet access. It wasn't until 89/90 that there email services could even talk to each other (via the internet).

Source: old enough to have listed compuserve "forums" and AOL "keywords" on my business cards...

Re:Uh...try again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603363)

Don't forget about FidoNet :)

Re:Uh...try again (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 months ago | (#47604029)

Except fidonet nodes could talk to each other. I ran a node for only mail relay in Southern Ontario from 92-96(from the time I was in middle school to the time I was nearly finished high school), because a bunch of BBS's in the area were choking the only provider at the time for mail requests. By the time late '96 had come around most people had moved to ISP's and BBS's around here were dying. Oh BRE, FRE, and LORD how I do miss you at times.

Re:Uh...try again (2)

bonehead (6382) | about 5 months ago | (#47604629)

Don't forget about FidoNet :)

FidoNet was something different.

I'm not saying it's irrelevant to the conversation. Not by any means. It holds a very important place in history. But it was it's own, separate thing. It wasn't the Internet, and it wasn't the commercial online services.

In a way, it was the first "common man's" global network. Sure, the Internet existed, and ARPAnet before that, but for many years they were only available to the privileged few.

Fido Net was a way for a regular guy to use his computer to communicate with people outside of his home town.

Seems like nothing today. Back then it was a HUGE deal.

Re:Uh...try again (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606411)

" It holds a very important place in history"

Only in fido-land. It was a pox to the rest of the net.

Q:How do you know when the Fido boys tried to gateway again?
A: there are 300 posts in alt.aquaria. 280 of them are the same.

Every. Friggin. Time.

And no I don't know why your tank is green.

Re:Uh... (1)

bonehead (6382) | about 5 months ago | (#47604593)

As someone who moved away from BBS's to the Internet before there was such a thing as a "web site", I feel qualified to say that, No, AOL was not the first.

Back then there was no Firefox. We used gopher.
There was no Google. We used archie.
Even Mosaic wasn't around yet.
There was no "click here to download". We used ftp from the command line. And there goddamn sure as fuck weren't any Viagra ads.

You could freely post your email address online for the whole world to see, with no worries of getting on a spam list. It was a beautiful time.

Not only was AOL not the first, I feel comfortable and confident in saying that, by far, the darkest day the Internet has ever seen was the day that AOL unleashed its hordes.

Re:Uh... (1)

The Phantom Mensch (52436) | about 5 months ago | (#47606505)

I remember reading the Mac System 7 announcements on the Mac listserve (Appletalk?, something like that) about a year before it was released, and then downloading it from ftp.apple.com for free when it was released. In floppy disk image files. Reportedly ftp.apple.com was hosted by a Mac SE/30 running A/UX.

Re:Uh... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 months ago | (#47606963)

alt.binaries.pictures.midget.blonde That is all.

Re:Uh... (1)

anagama (611277) | about 5 months ago | (#47607483)

Although certainly not the first ISP, I think Delphi was one of the first commercial online services to offer internet access (maybe late 1992, definitely by 93). Delphi was totally text based, but if I recall, it only cost $20/month for 20 hours while AOL, though snazzier, was something like $3/hr. The one good thing about AOL discs in the very early 90s, was coming bundled with a version of GeoWorks that ran on DOS.

Anyway, I finally got actual internet through a dial-up ISP in late 1994, then DSL in 1999. And now, I toy with the idea of cutting the cord completely from time to time, as I get too tired to cuss at the punks on my lawn.

Flash? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603195)

Flash video, seriously? Slashdot continues its slide into irrelevance...

Re:Flash? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603293)

Android 2.2 bitches!!!

Bad video quality. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603207)

It looks like he is still using dialup.

UUNET in 1987? (2)

hondo77 (324058) | about 5 months ago | (#47603213)

The company I worked for was dialing into UUNET [wikipedia.org] back in 1987/88. Why aren't they considered the first?

Re:UUNET in 1987? (1)

praxis (19962) | about 5 months ago | (#47603325)

Was the company you worked for reselling dialup to anyone who paid them?

Re:UUNET in 1987? (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 5 months ago | (#47603389)

No but we were paying UUNET.

Re:UUNET in 1987? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 months ago | (#47603645)

I think the key world here is "dial-up". Was UUNET offering modems you could dial into over public telephone network at that time?

Re:UUNET in 1987? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 5 months ago | (#47604347)

If I recall correctly UUNET didn't offer IP based access until the early 90s. Prior to that it was just limited access to emails and some file transfer.

Re:UUNET in 1987? (1)

jsm300 (669719) | about 5 months ago | (#47603729)

UUNET was not providing internet connections at that time. They started out as a UUCP service provider, primarily providing email and Usenet feeds via uucp. So sometimes people will say they are the first ISP, just like people will claim Compuserve, Prodigy and AOL were all ISP's back then. But The World was the first true ISP providing access to the Internet, which probably wasn't all that exciting for the general public at that point.

Re:UUNET in 1987? (1)

paiute (550198) | about 5 months ago | (#47604081)

the Internet, which probably wasn't all that exciting for the general public at that point.

Are you kidding? Don't you remember the excitement of going to Yahoo and seeing what new sites had come online the day before? The list had a dozen some days.

I hate Google+ Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603273)

All of these Google+ interviews are nearly unwatchable due to the really poor audio/video quality... Ugh.

My first internet connection (1)

psxotaku (324786) | about 5 months ago | (#47603345)

Just had a good laugh with my wife. We got our first dialup account with The World back in the early 90's. Wrote my first scripts because of that account (and the usenet).

Delphi... WELL... (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 5 months ago | (#47603357)

damn those were heady days. Substantive discussions. Thoughtful comments. My how things have degraded in just about any forum you care to pick.

Re:Delphi... WELL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47605453)

u r just jealos of the uinternet now moran

Heh heh... well played (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 5 months ago | (#47607215)

(as I was going to say of course /. is immune from such pettiness...)

rewriting history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603387)

This is the problem with the internet, the rewriting of history. Mindlink in Burnaby bc had full telnet, fido, archy etc well before 1989.

Re:rewriting history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47606223)

No they didn't. You're misremembering. They just had relay services until the 90's.

Page last modified April 27, 2006 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603479)

Top of page: "New Pricing And Services Effective September 1, 2010"

So, yeah, wouldn't trust the "Page last modified" date.

Ticket to the World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603509)

Barry and "The World" a.k.a Software Tool and Die and Trumpet Winsock were my tickets to the internet world (pardon the pun) back in the day. I had a whole private network running off a dial-up connection! Sometimes I miss those days. Thanks, Barry.

Why isn't (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47603543)

Dialing into a BBS, bouncing into a schools system and then access the net not considered the first dialup isp?
Something I did in '83.

Re:Why isn't (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 5 months ago | (#47604915)

I'm guessing it's because the BBS operator didn't sell that as a reliable service. You knew those machines were there. You knew you could route through the BBS to those machines. You had passwords for those machines.

If your BBS's sysop had known a teacher or something, gotten a password, and then re-sold that service... TROUBLE.

FWIW, I was a bit taken aback by TFA because I was under the impression that there was no commercial dial-up Internet until some kind of law was passed in the early 90s, and that AOL and/or CompuServe had something to do with lobbying for it.

Re:Why isn't (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606469)

No.

Anybody could connect to the uucp network, it was ad-hoc and came with unix all out of bell labs and written by private industry.

The TCP/IP network otoh, was paid for by USG research dollars which the USG thinks gives them statutory authority over it, hence the dns and ip regime in place now which is effectively government control, not the private industry control that exists over the network itself.

At the time the NSF regulated IP transit with the AUP; Steve Wolff, who Barry mentioned, was in charge of this and felt the network would grow more quickly if the NSF wasn't "in the loop" and withdrew the AUP thus handing over the network to private control.

I asked Wolff years later why he didn't liberate the DNS as well as the network, it remained under the auspices of the NSF which got us to where we are not. He said in retrospect he should have; he didn't think it was important back then but if he knew then what he knows now he would have done it.

You have to keep in mine too there was nothing ON the TCP/IP network. Both UUCP and TCP/IP had email (although the ip side lagged badly, mail was really invented at Bell, IP made very crude versions of this ad took forever to do it) but News had come out of UUCP and there wasn't much else on the network. You really only needed IP if you needed to telnet or ftp and in 90 not many people were being paid to do this. So dial up uucp sites were not uncommon even then - every city had them, and from there you could real mail and news. That's all the network was back then.

Re:Why isn't (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47606719)

Had DNS been let out to the wolves, the internet we know now would not exist. It would be a segmented series of corporate owned conflicting networks.

Re:Why isn't (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47606753)

"I'm guessing it's because the BBS operator didn't sell that as a reliable service"
Actually, he did.

"If your BBS's sysop had known a teacher or something, gotten a password, and then re-sold that service... TROUBLE."
Trouble, on the internet? say it ain't so!

The 90's was about business being able to use the internet more then ir was about the common citizen accessing it.

Is my memory failing or ... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 5 months ago | (#47603559)

Before I got a Sysop account at Compuserve, I paid $9.95 if memory serves.
All the companies were there to download updates from, you could download libraries, utilities, examples, FAQs and Howtos, talk with the programmers, whine to the quality assurance people, you could buy books, jeans and coffee an some other stuff, play multiplayer games (all text) send email to the world, read usenet newsgroups, get email newsletters (tweets with no limit, for the young whippersnappers amongst you) and later also use the web.

Why would people pay the double for what exactly?
Do I have to RTFA for that? :-)

Re:Is my memory failing or ... (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47604995)

Before I got a Sysop account at Compuserve, I paid $9.95 if memory serves. All the companies were there to download updates from, you could download libraries, utilities, examples, FAQs and Howtos, talk with the programmers, whine to the quality assurance people, you could buy books, jeans and coffee an some other stuff, play multiplayer games (all text) send email to the world, read usenet newsgroups, get email newsletters (tweets with no limit, for the young whippersnappers amongst you) and later also use the web.

Why would people pay the double for what exactly?

The ability to connect to an arbitrary Internet-based service with a client program that connects using TCP?

Perhaps what you describe was adequate for the vast majority of users, but somebody who wanted direct access to the Internet, including, for example, the ability to (perhaps slooooowly) FTP to an available Internet FTP site would welcome it.

Re:Is my memory failing or ... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 5 months ago | (#47605485)

"Perhaps what you describe was adequate for the vast majority of users, but somebody who wanted direct access to the Internet, including, for example, the ability to (perhaps slooooowly) FTP to an available Internet FTP site would welcome it."

CIS had an FTP client as well.

Re:Is my memory failing or ... (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606481)

That's nice. It's still compu$serve.

If you knew what you were doing you didn't pay for net, that's the advantage to store and forward uucp over always-on IP.

Im'a let you finish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603589)

But Al Gore invented the first dialup folks.

Great Emulation (1)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 5 months ago | (#47603683)

It even took 30 seconds for the TheWorld.com web page to load, just like a real dialup line!

Re:Great Emulation (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#47604673)

Comcast makes everything seem like the 80's

This guys ego (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47603685)

is out of whack.
GO read his site.
"Yes, keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out of your head.
(although I've heard it since from other sources and attributed to Ann Landers, Carl Sagan and others I'm pretty sure this one was original when I said it and others have attributed the quote to me. "

It was Walter Kotschnig, who Carl was quoting in DHW. That Statement with lightly different verbiage goes back 150 years, and probably older.

TECO is basically perl? Please. Perl doesn't stand for anything, and TECO is closer to freaking COBOL then perl.

As a reminder you're not the only one that's been working with computers for 40+ years.
Narcissistic ass.

Re:This guys ego (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606503)

The problem with the Internet is the unusual personalities of the people that built and use.*

Barry literally wrote the book on tcp/ip, and as he says, the net was small back then and we all knew each other.

who the fuck are you?

*This is probably true of Slashdot, too.

Re:This guys ego (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47606777)

"Barry literally wrote the book on tcp/ip"

Applemen, not Shein. Since the conversation is ABOUT a guy named Barry, you should clarify when talking about a different Barry.

Re:This guys ego (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47607257)

The real problem with Slashdot is arrogant, know-it-all dinosaurs like you, who are unfortunately about the only participants left on this decrepit website. Article "discussion" is mostly just one long ego fest for jackasses like you to make a show at how elite you were back in the day. Well maybe back in the stone age you were somebody important and connected(and that is doubtful), but it's now 2014, billions of people use the Internet, and you're just another obnoxious jackass running his mouth on a completely irrelevant website. You're not really that important dude(and probably never were), no matter how much name dropping you do. And no, an obnoxious jackass is not an "unusual personality."

Many of you nerds really need a serious ego deflation.

Certainly not the first (1)

Shrubber (552857) | about 5 months ago | (#47603813)

I don't know who really can make that claim but Intelecom Data Systems in Rhode Island was offering dialup Internet access to the public in 1987, including SLIP (and later PPP.)

Re:Certainly not the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47604301)

Yup. On a VAX stolen from Brown & Sharpe.

Re:Certainly not the first (2)

bmo (77928) | about 5 months ago | (#47604407)

>Yup. On a VAX stolen from Brown & Sharpe.

I saw that Microvax in Andy's basement. "Hey Andy, where'd ya get the Vax?" "We don't talk about that."

"...Ok..." >proceed to turn up Pink Floyd's DSOTM.

After he returned it, he got an ancient 780 and I believe 2 (or 3?) washing machine sized disks.

slightly related tangent -

Ferguson Perforating got rid of their Microvax II one day and I found out that it went to the landfill, because the guy they gave it to couldn't operate the damn thing "and it was old." I was catatonic with disappointment. "DO YOU THROW AWAY A MICROMETER BECAUSE IT'S NOT ELECTRONIC?!" I yelled.

It was 1993/4. Still the heyday of the BBS networks. I could have created a beast of a multiline setup bigger than Andy's. *grumble grumble*

--
BMO

Re:Certainly not the first (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606515)

All of the internet ran on stolen equipment and stolen phone lines back then. You made it work by whatever means possible.

Jesus Christ, Sun and Cisco were both formed on the commission of a federal crime - they stole the machines from Stanford.

Re:Certainly not the first (1)

bmo (77928) | about 5 months ago | (#47604459)

I don't think he had Internet access in 1987. That came a bit later, I believe. Certainly not on the Microvax. Andy didn't charge for access to the machine when it was a BBS which probably saved his butt.

Lots of time spent in Vax Multi-User Moria and VMS Phone.

I believe Daver was 12 or something when he wrote the full-screen editor for the BBS.

--
BMO

I'm sure he's a nice guy, but... (1, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | about 5 months ago | (#47604183)

Add $5.00/month for unlimited* dial-up.
 
* Unlimited does not mean 24 by 7 connectivity. It means unmetered, interactive usage. Sessions inactive for more than 20 minutes are subject to disconnection. Attempts to defeat inactivity detection may result in additional charges or termination of service.

IF IT'S FUCKING LIMITED, DON'T FUCKING CALL IT UNLIMITED!

How hard is it to just say "Add $5.00/month for unmetered, interactive usage" without an asterisk and a bunch of bullshit between "Add $5" and the description of what you actually get for your five bucks?

Re:I'm sure he's a nice guy, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47604693)

Sure, then they can replace the asterisk note with a FAQ that answers "What is unmetered, interactive usage?". It's either 6 of one, or half a dozen of the other.

Re:I'm sure he's a nice guy, but... (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606557)

You weren't there. Clearly.

You're used to dialing with ISDN or DSL and have it connect?

That's adorable.

Know what you got 90% of the time when you dialed up with a modem back then? A busy signal.

That's cause for every modem that existed, 5 guys wanted to use it. This went on until cable and dsl, late 90s or so.

So it was considered rude to dial up, then go away and leave it connected when you weren't using it and people were waiting.

Free ISP's (there were many, Barry was just the first pay-for one) would jut disconnect you and fuck you that's why. And most didn't charge so they could do this. But if you were paying, yupi might not expect that o had to be aware of the rules, like don't spam and don't tie up the modem pool.

You don't like it? Open your own isp and you can do what you like and waste your very expensive phone lines on people that forgot to hang up when they went out.

Re:I'm sure he's a nice guy, but... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47606819)

It's cute that you get angry, but everyone know what it meant because you know what limited meant? metered.
You have no clue of the context of the time, so stifle your outrage, newb.

Re:I'm sure he's a nice guy, but... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 months ago | (#47607031)

I find it cute when children come out and decide to speak on the issues of man. They are of course wrong, but we should encourage them so they can learn.

Definitely not the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47604293)

I don't know who was first but I was on Wetware Diversions, a dial-up ISP in San Francisco connected to the Internet in as early as 1987 and it was up before then. I paid a certain amount of money (I don't remember the amount) to dial in to their servers with my Supra 2400bps modem via telnet I recall, and I read Usenet there.

DNS wasn't even in use at the time I recall as e-mail addresses still needed to use bangs ("!") for routing, which made it difficult for me to send e-mail because I didn't know the names of various routers so I could route my e-mail through them to reach its destination. (I'm not exactly sure of the technical side of things; please forgive me.) In other words, we didn't use @schoolname.edu to send e-mail. We had to do something like routerone!routertwo!routerfive!schoolname etc. to address our e-mails. You can see examples of this in the link below.

I did a quick search for "Wetware Diversions" and came up with this long list of ISPs going back as far as 1988:

http://www.phrack.org/issues/29/4.html

(Posting as AC because I don't have a /. account yet.)

Re:Definitely not the first (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47604969)

I don't know who was first but I was on Wetware Diversions, a dial-up ISP in San Francisco connected to the Internet in as early as 1987 and it was up before then ...

DNS wasn't even in use at the time

RFC 882 [ietf.org] and RFC 883 [ietf.org] were published as early as 1983, so I really doubt that DNS wasn't at use at all in 1987.

I recall as e-mail addresses still needed to use bangs ("!") for routing

That's a UUCP convention, not used on the real Internet. Perhaps the service that you used required bang paths and didn't use DNS, but DNS was most definitely in use by people connected to the Internet (as opposed to people connected to a dialup service that gatewayed email onto the Internet).

I did a quick search for "Wetware Diversions" and came up with this long list of ISPs going back as far as 1988:

http://www.phrack.org/issues/29/4.html

That says

07/89 415-753-5265^ wet San Francisco CA 3/12/24 24
386 SYS V.3. Wetware Diversions. $15 registration, $0.01/minute.
Public Access UNIX System: uucp, PicoSpan bbs, full Usenet News,
multiple lines, shell access. Newusers get initial credit!
contact:{ucsfcca|claris|hoptoad}!wet!cc (Christopher Cilley)

I see nothing about "Internet" there. I see "uucp", "bbs", "Usenet", and "shell access", all of which can be provided as dialup services, and none of which necessarily imply that they support something such as SLIP or PPP over dialup lines and route packets between the host on the other end of the dialup line and the Internet, that being what being an Internet Service Provider indicates that you do.

UUCP (including UUCP mail and USENET), BBS access, and dialup shell access were certainly very useful services at the time, but they aren't sufficient to make you an ISP.

If you're going to quibble that Barry wasn't the first dialup ISP - not the first provider of dialup UUCP or the first provider of dialup BBS access or the first provider of dialup shell services - then talk about earlier ISPs, not earlier providers of dialup UUCP or dialup BBS access or dialup shell services.

Re:Definitely not the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47605783)

Thank you very much for your explanation and clarification! Makes sense. Like I said "I'm not exactly sure of the technical side of things; please forgive me." :-) I should have been less certain of my claim.

Re:Definitely not the first (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606593)

"but they aren't sufficient to make you an ISP."

Of course they were. What does the I in ISP mean? "Internet".

If what you offer can interoperate with the network, you're an ISP. What do you think the ip network looked like before the web? Hint: nobody really used Gopher (other than .ca whois) and 99% of all activity was mail and news. Which came from uucp and was ported to IP. But until the web came along there was simply no reason for a pain in the ass SLIP or PPP connection cause you could do anything important with a uucp connection.

ftp wasn't the only way to move files around. And as a user of the network you couldn't tell if those other people were on uucp or the ip network, it was all transparent to you - Interoperability.

Re:Definitely not the first (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 months ago | (#47607075)

I used Gopher.

Fuck. How I would love a Gopher like interface to most of the content on the web now. Blazing through using arrow keys. It was fast and got me info.

Re:Definitely not the first (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47607383)

"but they aren't sufficient to make you an ISP."

Of course they were. What does the I in ISP mean? "Internet".

If what you offer can interoperate with the network, you're an ISP.

If you can route packets from clients to the Internet, you're an ISP.

If you can only route mail messages and Usenet mail postings to the Internet, with your clients using UUCP to send them and receive them, and perhaps provide the ability to download and upload files using UUCP and maybe other uux-based services, you're a UUCP service provider, not an ISP.

Re:Definitely not the first (1)

The Phantom Mensch (52436) | about 5 months ago | (#47606727)

I had internet access at work starting in 1986 but since it was work related I stuck to fairly sensible net usage. My first home ISP was through a small startup in rural northern NJ, starting in 1992 or so The local phone service at that time under NJ Bell was pretty terrible. Local calls only serviced half the county, and not even the county seat where AOL and Compuserve's dial-up phone banks were established, so AOL use was a toll call. Recognizing this, two guys set up a dial-up phone bank in an area that serviced this little gap in dial-up access and ran with it for about 5 years. This was a full fledged ISP right from the start with IP addresses, ftp access, mail servers, Usenet, etc. And for the first year or two tech support meant talking to the sysadmin himself. Planet.net was the name of it and as far as I can tell the domain name is up for grabs.

My contribution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47604331)

Ok, this guy in my post here is not Barry Shein. Posting anonymously just in case someone can figure out who it is...

Anyway I was a sysadmin on some Unix and VMS machines at one work site. At one point I hooked into Usenet via another department within the company, but was always a bit nervous about it as this was a large defense contractor that was paranoid about any outside network connections. I only wanted the technical newsgroups and some access to external email but I did allow a few choice non-tech sites through (local for-sale stuff and the like).

One of the users would ask me, jokingly, if I would add alt.sex.bondage. I would refuse of course, laughing. I had limited disk space and limited dialup bandwidth, and very low seniority. I'd say I would do it if I got a memo from the president of the company, which I knew would never happen. But every month or so John Doe would ask again, could he get alt.sex.bondage. I'd give the same excuses and roll my eyes. After awhile I was not sure if he was just keeping a long running joke going or if he wasn't really joking after all. But I left the company after awhile.

A few years later one of my friends mentioned that John Doe started his own company. It was one of the larger ISPs around at the time for people who wanted dialup access to their school or company's mainframes, access to Usenet, a shell account, and so forth. This was in 1988 or 1989, with actual dialup. Later when the web started taking off they provided early access and get very large. So this really was a big pioneer of "the internet" you might say.

So in hindsight one of the things I've been wondering ever since, is whether or not my refusal to supply alt.sex.bondage was a key motivator to kicking off the internet revolution. Me and Al Gore, we should be buddies.

Re:My contribution... (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606643)

"(local for-sale stuff and the like)"

ie., porn.

This fueled a lot of the early net. I knew an deign engineer that wanted the engineering groups. They wouldn't spring for a uunet feed from DC to Irvine so buddy got smart and gve his boss a floppy of porn from home. He said you get one of these every week if I get a full feed, Capish? He got a full feed and friday afternoons had to download and pay the porn tax. You did what you to, that connection in Irvine was at the time strategically important to the growth of the network. Now we had LA, San diego and orange county online.

Not the first, just the most egotistical. (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | about 5 months ago | (#47604359)

Portland had "agora" in 1985. PDxs and Teleport joined in 1987.

Re:Not the first, just the most egotistical. (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47605045)

Portland had "agora" in 1985. PDxs and Teleport joined in 1987.

With all three of them routing packets between a host on the other end of a dialup SLIP connection (not PPP, the first RFCs for that came out in 1989 [ietf.org] ) and the Internet? If not, they weren't ISPs, they were providers of other dialup services.

Re:Not the first, just the most egotistical. (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606661)

Why? The IP network was tiny back then and the uucp network was enormous ans had all the apps. There were no people passing packet back then because nobody wanted to - they didn't need to. You could get everything the network had to offer via uucp.

Except telnet. But there was nowhere to telnet to. Back then if you needed to telnet you had a line in your house. What else would your boss say "ok, we need you to telnet it. I hear a third ISP opened in the US, so use that."

Re:Not the first, just the most egotistical. (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 months ago | (#47607109)

So the first manufacturer of cars was a stable guy in North Africa. Because there were no roads and not many other cars so you could get everywhere by horse. Right?

Re:Not the first, just the most egotistical. (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47607351)

Why? The IP network was tiny back then and the uucp network was enormous ans had all the apps. There were no people passing packet back then because nobody wanted to - they didn't need to. You could get everything the network had to offer via uucp.

OK, so there wasn't much of a market for ISPs back then, and most organizations offering dialup services weren't ISPs, they provided UUCP access or UNIX shell access or a BBS or....

So, if neither agora nor PDxs nor Teleport offered your machine the ability to directly transmit IP packets to and receive IP packets from hosts on the Internet, they may have offered very useful services, but they weren't ISPs, and thus do not count as evidence that The World wasn't the first dialup ISP.

If you want to prove that The World wasn't the first dialup ISP - not "the first dialup service provider", Barry's smart enough not to claim that The World was that - you're going to have to find an organization providing dialup direct Internet access before they did.

Freenets? (1)

Sandman1971 (516283) | about 5 months ago | (#47604509)

I was dialing up to Freenets back in 1988, paying for 'privileged' access (though they were non-profit) and was using email, archie, gopher, IRC, etc... Wouldn't this be considered an ISP?

Re:Freenets? (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47604933)

I was dialing up to Freenets back in 1988, paying for 'privileged' access (though they were non-profit) and was using email, archie, gopher, IRC, etc... Wouldn't this be considered an ISP?

Only if you could send IP packets directly onto the Internet and receive IP packets directly from the Internet, which would seem to imply that they were Freenets in a sense other than this sense of Freenet [freenetproject.org] ("Freenet is a self-contained network, while Tor allows accessing the web anonymously, as well as using "hidden services" (anonymous web servers). Freenet is not a proxy: You cannot connect to services like Google or Facebook using Freenet." And, no, "Google and Facebook didn't exist at the time" is not a counterargument; replace them with whatever Internet services existed at the time, and if the resulting "You cannot connect to service such as ... using Freenet." remains true, it wasn't an ISP.).

Re:Freenets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47605349)

Yes, before my time, but Freenet has/had another meaning besides freenetproject.org (perhaps inspired their name though?)

Re:Freenets? (1)

Sandman1971 (516283) | about 5 months ago | (#47605853)

As I stated, I used Archie [wikipedia.org] , Gopher [wikipedia.org] and IRC.. and as I just remembered EW-Too chat prgrams and MUDs/MUSHes/Etc... and was connecting to them directly from a shell account.... so by your definition that falls under ISP.

Re:Freenets? (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47607439)

As I stated, I used Archie [wikipedia.org] , Gopher [wikipedia.org] and IRC.. and as I just remembered EW-Too chat prgrams and MUDs/MUSHes/Etc... and was connecting to them directly from a shell account.... so by your definition that falls under ISP.

OK, I guess I didn't make it clear enough.

If you can send IP packets over your dialup connection and have them routed onto the Internet, and have IP packets from the Internet routed to your machine over the dialup connection, you're dialed into an ISP.

If you have to dial up a host and log in to getty over that dialup connection, then you're dialed up to a UNIX shell service provider, not an ISP, even if the UNIX host you've logged into happens to be connected to the Internet.

If a UUCP program on your machine has to dial up a host and log into a UUCP account over that dialup connection, then you're dialed up to a UUCP service provider, not an ISP, even if the host you're connecting to via UUCP can route emails to the Internet.

So unless you were using Archie and Gopher and IRC clients running on your machine at home, with those clients sending IP packets out over a SLIP connection and receiving IP packets from that SLIP connection, you were not dialing into an ISP.

Re:Freenets? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47606867)

No.
UUCP was the 'internet' until TCP/IP became more popular. The first personal computers used UUCP to connect to the internet.
By internet, I mean the hardware and lines. TCP/IP is not the internet. It's an internet protocol. A way to tonnect to communicate vie 'the internet'.

Here, let me help you out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Freenets? (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#47607295)

No. UUCP was the 'internet' until TCP/IP became more popular. The first personal computers used UUCP to connect to the internet. By internet, I mean the hardware and lines. TCP/IP is not the internet. It's an internet protocol. A way to tonnect to communicate vie 'the internet'.

The Internet, with a capital "I", as in "Internet Service Provider", uses the Internet protocol suite (IP, UDP, TCP, etc.), not UUCP, although UUCP can run over TCP. I don't care what you mean by "internet", with a lower-case "i"; as we're talking about who was the first Internet-with-a-capital-I service provider, what you mean by "internet" is completely irrelevant.

Here, let me help you out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

Here, let me help you out [wikipedia.org] . You may recognize a name that appears several times on that page; why giving me the URL of a page that I have edited several times doesn't "help me out", if by that you mean "informing me of something I didn't know". I'm quite familiar with UUCP, having used it in the 1980's and early 1990's, and having managed it at some of the companies at which I worked.

Water invented in 1974, the cup in 1989? (1)

Jeff Nelson (3775163) | about 5 months ago | (#47604863)

I had raw IP dialup in 1989 in Tucson, Arizona. It's so long ago, that I don't recall the name of the company, but they were not new in 1989. And, there were other options.

Re:Water invented in 1974, the cup in 1989? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47605415)

I had dial up internet in 1987. TLG. The Little Garden. we first used terminals to access uucp and mail, then we got gopher,
and finally www in 1992, with Cello. Absolute crap, and we had a great party the night that NCSA/Mosic was released.

Good old Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47605735)

Back in '89 I was a member of the Boston Computer Society's Commodore Users Group. I remember when The World started up and I signed up for an account. It was a thrill to log in on my Commodore 128 with a 2400 baud modem and telnet, ftp, or gopher around the world. Remember Fidonet and when ISPs gave you a free subscription to newsgroups? I'm sorry to say that the thrill is gone since the Internet became a corporate environment.

Web hosting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47606253)

Is it possible anyone is naive enough to still be paying Barry $50/month for their 50MB storage / 2GB of transfer web hosting?

Re:Web hosting (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 months ago | (#47606669)

Who else are then supposed to pay now that Karl Denninger packed it in?

"hello, world" (1)

rich_salz (612602) | about 5 months ago | (#47606527)

I remember their daily message (msgs) had "Hello, world -- dmr" for the longest time. Also that Barry had very long discussions with NSFNet folks (Steven Wolffe?) about AUP, as the first commercial ISP.
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