This 1984 video showing how travelers checked their email is like ancient history

Originally published at: This 1984 video showing how travelers checked their email is like ancient history | Boing Boing


I still have a model 100 and retro-brited it, those computers were amazing.

(I used to go on chat systems back around 1990 with it to be weird)


I’m not gonna tell you the account number.
Proceeds to film the finger moving left to right so you can see and work it out anyway


The struggle is real.

For 1984, that would have been pretty amazing. And expensive as all hell. But there you go, email while you’re on the road.


I had email in 1985 through the BBSs. The messages would go out at the end of the day in bulk. I remember when I first got a more normal email address in 1987 at UCSC, and being amazed the messages were sent and received immediately.

Also - in the mid 80s I frequented a chat forum in the San Diego area that I called in to with my 300 baud modem. I think it was called SSI. It was mostly high school kids on this.

Fifteen people could log on at once and talk either privately or publicly. Each person would have a handle and a number. It would look like this “Ptolemy (that was me) has entered through port 12.” Then you’d communicate like this: 12>ALL (message) for public messages or 12>5 (message) for a private message to the person on port 5.

At one point I accidentally figured out the software would crash if you entered a period for the user name. I was free to roam around the computer, and made a copy of the chat software (it was in BASIC). I wrote a bunch of new routines and would run my version - could do stuff like read and send from other ports - I never used this maliciously, just some good old fashion snooping (what can I say, I was 16 years old).

My question - does anyone remember this SSI chat forum in the San Diego / El Cajon / Santee area in 1985?


I remember using the homebrew 6800 computer that my brother and I made in high school for logging into the university timesharing DECsystem-10 in the late seventies using a borrowed 300 baud modem. The display was a whopping 16 lines of 32 characters on a black and white TV set; we were used to using the 24x80 CRT terminals in various offices. This TRS-80 Model 100 has an even smaller screen than that!
At least the text scrolled across the screen slowly enough to read before it vanished.



I was active in the San Diego BBS community back then, but don’t recall that chat system. I lived in North County, and with the cost of “Zone 3” telephone calls in the same area code, that isn’t too surprising.

I used to be on several GBBS, CMS, and ProLine systems back then, as I was a very active Apple //e user for 8+ years! Finally got rid of it when I purchasd a 386 DX 25 w/ Windows 3.1 and came to the dark side.


I like the part where he enters his account number and password and stays he’s not going to tell the audience what they are, but you can easily see the keys he’s pressing.

Pretty sure his personal ID wasn’t 000. :wink:

I grew up with an Apple //e with an internal 1200-baud modem. Occasionally I’d have to connect at 300-baud, boy were those slooow BBSs. amazing times. And it definitely contributed to my high typing rate, which has served me well over the years. :slight_smile:




Now I feel like I’ve been pronouncing it wrong.


Noob. He should have connected to a local X.25 service, from there to a UK X.25, and to his email service.

Hmm. As I recall, someone used his Model 100 from his sailboat in the Bahamas, ship-to-shore to landline to X.25, to Montreal and our Access service around Christmas 1984.

(We thought it was great, and then we wondered “Wait, who gets charged for that international connection? Us? Oh shit!”)


You can just make out that the service he was dialling into was the UK’s early public proto-internet, PRESTEL


You have.

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X.25 was not everywhere in 1984, and a lot of it was only quasi compliant to the standard. I worked for a carrier that did X.25 among other things; at the time network access through telephones was usually accomplished with X.28 PADs which concentrated usually eight or so telephone lines and formatted dumb terminal data into packets for the X.25 network. These PADs usually were protected from dialing out on the telephone lines (which were often receive only anyway) but you could access the configuration software in them easily enough ( “Hey the password for this one is ‘test’ too”) and you might get lucky on the telephone line. One of the guys I worked with compiled a database of open X.28 PADs all over North America. He spent a lot of time dialing up BBS’s that would otherwise have been long distance . Not me though; what a stupid thing to go to prison for :slight_smile: ( he was above me in the org chart so not my problem)


I had a 300 baud modem too. Mine has hooked up through an add on RS232 port to a TI 99 4/a.

The vid reminded me of those days you could read the text faster than it could transmit it!



Steve Roberts pioneered the connected traveler with a TRS Model 100 in the early 1980s; he travelled around on a recumbent bike and his “keyboard” was eight momentary contact pushbuttons, four on each handlebar. He would enter 8-bit ASCII directly (which seems hard :slight_smile: ) He was an amateur radio operator and as I recall used packet radio and AX.25 protocol although this article doesn’t mention that. EDIT apostrophe don’t care