IRC, BBS, etc

I was actually telling this old story to Jaco the other day. Way way WAY back before Whatsapp and google talk and jabber and even Mxit, there was this thing called IRC (internet relay chat). It was one of those beautiful old protocols that nobody really appreciated (but should have). It could replicate chat rooms over distributed services and was fairly low-bandwidth for what it did.

There was this network called And everyone was on it. They had an admin that was quite strict, let’s put it that way for I do not remember the details anyway, and as result many of the opers of nodes within the larger network weren’t always happy, until the day they decided to split off and do their own thing, and basically 90% of the network left with them, creating

So I’m not quite sure why I thought of that old story. Perhaps because for a while, there was a similar amount of lurking going on on the one end, and a not-looking-back on the other. I myself have literally gone cold-turkey overnight, not even answering the PMs that trickled in afterwards. Why look back? You’re not going that way… :slight_smile:


I didn’t spend a lot of time on IRC back then, but I do remember that you were even able to download songs through a chat. Maybe it was a feature of the client I used, mIRC. People will always find a way to share music. :smile:

AAAaaa IRC. 5FM was on If you copy and paste something that was to long, then you get kicked out. We use to run our Counter Strike chat account via IRC

You can get a lot of stuff done using base64 or xmodem encoding, and the right plugin. Usenet was (ab)used in exactly the same manner :slight_smile:

Wow, that brings back memories of downloading stuff from BBSs over a 2400bps dial-up connection.

1 Like

My first model was a 1200bps model and you had to know the number of at least on BBS to dial up. Then most of the time they would have a list of numbers of more BBS systems that you could dial. Oh boy…


1 Like

I somehow also missed the IRC phase of the internet, but I was a heavy ICQ user at some point… I remember the “uh-oh” sound that it used to make when a message came in.

That being said - about the only people I chatted regularly with were my cousins!

Then later on it was Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, GTalk, Skype - at some point I had too many chat protocols going, so was using Pidgin and later Trillian to combine them all. This was necessary because I had started working and my colleagues were all using different platforms :).

So you literally JUST missed the IRC phase. Though I think it unfair to call it a phase. IRC was the defacto chat protocol of the 90s. We used to run a screen session on the unix server (which ran SunOS, the predecessor to Solaris), and then we ran ircII (irc-2) inside that screen session, so we could literally stay in a chatroom permanently. After the Zanet split I used to hang out on Lagnet for a bit, and eventually ended up on FreeNode until well into the 2010s (mostly for work purposes). Used to hang out with the guys from CLUG (cape linux user group). Then sometime afterwards, on the mailing list (of which I was a member since 1997), I had a bit of a spat with a Xhosa guy (who is now a good friend of mine) and that landed me on the moderation list, which is something that appears to be permanent. So yeah… that was another phase that came to an end due to a stupid online disagreement :slight_smile:

Sounds about right - I wasn’t really online much in the 90s.

And even then, my IM journey was a bit “interrupted” at the time due to dialup. I only really got onto the internet somewhere around '97 or '98 - and that was on a 64kbps ISDN line. My dad’s work had a perk where we could request a dial-back - so the company phoned us back and connected us (thereby saving us a huge phone bill). So I didn’t have to wait for 7pm call-more-time and I could go on a bit longer, but I did get in trouble once for forgetting to disconnect and kept it going for a couple of days :slight_smile:

Took quite the figuring out to share that connection over our primitive 10Mbps LAN (without a router and thus without DHCP and all the “auto-setup” you get these days) so that I could internet on my own machine.

My IM journey only really took off when I managed to get permanently online around 2000 when we got an ADSL line (a 384 kbps one if I recall correctly, but still, what a massive improvement!).

My dad, on the other hand, was a major BBS user, even in Ellisras where we stayed until 1994.

Luxury! My first ADSL line was 128kbit, and we had a 3GB cap. Since that’s all you need to check things in and out of source control (github, subversion), I was always on the lowest possible package for about a decade. Telkom would frequently port us a step upwards at no additional cost (to get rid of the slower lines). At one point they upgraded us to 1Mbps and I didn’t notice because the data account (with another ISP) remained at 384.

But of course the “uphill in the snow both ways” part of my story would be how we dialed up on the farm. This was slightly beyond the party line days (which actually worked perfectly fine with a modem, you just had to tell the exchange you were sending a fax, and you had to be quick about it). The new system used a multiplexed radio signal where the bandwidth was shared between several consumers, so the best speed you could get out of a modem was 9600 baud, or about 2kbyte/sec.

Strange how times have changed.
With dailup and ADSL you always wanted the fastest you could get (but I also only had the slowest lines always).
These days all my LAN devices are limited to 2Mbps speed on the router, or else all my data cap is depleted within days on the top speed you can get on LTE-A. This keeps video streaming services resolution down so Netflix and Youtube don’t go Full HD. :upside_down_face:

1 Like

Are you in the sticks? No fibre conection??

They are busy installing fibre in the area only now. It’s not live yet.
I’m so far from the ADSL exchange max speed here is only 2mbps, but we do have Rain and MTN/Cell-C LTE-A. You just need to manage your data cap and then it is fine.

I also only have fibre for almost a year now actually, before that I used fixed LTE for a good few years, more than 5 probably because way back already, I simply got gatvol of Telkom ADSL problems in our area.

My first ADSL was 384 Kbps might even have been slower, this was in the early 2000’s and over time Telkom also upgraded us for free, first to 512 and later to 1 Mbps, then 4 Mbps. A Few years later I tried to upgrade to 10 Mbps, but because of the terrible cabling in our area I never quite got 10 Mb speeds, so I downgraded to 8 Mbps till the day I said good riddence to Telkom ADSL.

I now have 25 Mbps fibre and that’s more than enough for me, I don’t see the need to upgrade.

I might move to a area with no fibre in future where I’ll probably have to go back to fixed LTE or something, I must say it will be hard to go from uncapped fibre back to capped again. It took a few months to get used to the uncapped, I don’t even look at or care about my usage anymore.

Yeah, I (obviously) moved out of my parents’ place and into a rental - and imagine my dismay when I discovered there were no ADSL lines in the complex. Ended up getting 2 Mbps (Give or take 1Mbps) Neotel CDMA. Weird times. Can’t even remember the cap but I think it was 3GB (everything was 3GB those days).

Then I bought a place and made sure that I asked the estate agent if there were ADSL lines - and she said yes. Turns out there were ADSL lines in the rest of the estate - but the new area where my townhouse was being built had a dispute between the developer and Telkom and the developer ended up pouring concrete into every manhole. :disappointed:

So I then went the WISP route and paid through my neck for a 3GB 4 Mbps service (later 10GB). Eventually got rid of it when LTE started becoming a thing and had to go through great lengths to convince Telkom that I did have reception (in my garage only) and then pulling LAN cables so that I could have the internet in the rest of my house.

Then I joined (actually started) the estate’s fibre committee to convert everything to fibre. After 1.5 years of fighting we finally agreed on which fibre provider to go with (Telkom, since the one director were ex-Telkom :roll_eyes: ), but by then I had sold my place and moved to another suburb.

I distinctly recall the day I loaded the last things in my car and drove out of the estate for the last time, I saw a Telkom Fibre bakkie drive into my complex :cry: .

Nowadays I have 50Mbps fibre (after I downgraded from 100Mbps to 20Mbps and then got re-upgraded a couple of times). And since I got 100Gb++ worth of data, I read waaay less and spend waaaay more time streaming video. :frowning:

Ellisras had those too (in the suburbs) when we moved there - allegedly. Only when you phoned to the city though. I was too young to ever experience “lines crossing” :stuck_out_tongue: