What if there was no internet

A thing they seem to be skipping out on is the BBS; which was actually coded up by a couple guys in Chicago when a snowstorm basically shut the city down and they were bored so decided ‘hey let’s hook up the computer club’s phone line up to a computer.’ One of these guys was actually involved in ARPAnet in a very tangential manner and so had some experience in connecting computers together that didn’t nessicarily share operating system standards (CPM being the dominant OS at the time.) It is my personal feeling that the BBS would still happen, as it was a very ‘bottom-up’ affair that sorta grew into its own thing with no real connection to ARPA, NSFnet, or anything the government was doing. BBS’s ended up spawning FIDOnet, which allowed BBBS’s to exchange information between each other and os you could get messages from one en of the country (and eventually the world) to the other with no user NEEDING to pay anything (though often times indavidual region nodes would try raising money for operational costs.)

Your track is of a world where there was no networking outside of the government sector. I would like to see you do an alternate history where the BBS continued to hold sway.

I recommend looking at Jason Scott’s BBS Documentary, it’s free and has a lot of first-hand knowledge.

As for where I would be? probably emotionally dead inside because I’d be in a place I hate with no support structure telling me that ‘ok fine you’re weird compared to everyone around you, but that’s OK! You are not alone.’ Employment rates for disabled people were even worse pre-internet since the internet allows you to get around the whole ‘can’t easily drive from place to place’ issue to an extent. Without that kind of support structure I’d either be a completely different person, or dead, and since even before I knew of the internet I was not really like the people I live around…

tempted to do a blog write-up to see what I can prod my brainmeats and limited research skills into, since unlike most of what Codey discusses I actually sorta kinda know the history on this one and lived in the period in the ‘before this was a common thing’ and ‘after everyone grew dependant on it’ to have distinct memories I can form an opinionated guess of what things might be like.


Where would I be if there was no internet?

I’m not being hyperbolic, I had people call the police when I attempted suicide and put my suicide note online. I wouldn’t have had the support that I had when transitioning either.


I dunno. The Internet spreads as much poison as love. But it pleases me that it’s been good to you!


Usenet, email and UUCP didn’t depend on the Internet, but it did makes things a lot faster.


All my porn would be in print or on recordable media!!


Well, then I’d be able to walk into a brick & mortar Tower Records or Rhino Records store and (as in the past) chat with the clerks there, get interesting listening suggestions, talk music, and happily thumb through the bins and occasionally make pleasant discoveries.


Well, to state what’s likely obvious for many people, I’d have read a LOT more books in the past couple of decades.


Wow! The shit got real very quickly.

As a first response, the only thing which could remotely do it justice is an upvote. I am glad you are here with us to tell the story and gladder that you found support.


Is that an expression of no-porn disappointment… or a failed “O”?


Yes to both


I would have seen only the penises that I asked for and only had death threats from people I could see.


Actually I thank the internet for giving me a greater variety of what books I read. I would find out about books I never heard of from one source or another, seek them out and get them as e-books.


True! I was simply referring to number of books read, but yes, I can certainly thank the internet for leading me to many that I wouldn’t have known of otherwise.


If it was not THIS internet, it would simply be A DIFFERENT internet. After all, it is essentially a matter of networking between networks. There are other systems now which are less prevalent, and no doubt there are people currently inventing replacements, better and worse alike.

+1 The BBS documentary is amazing.

The more bogged down the regular internet gets by lumbering dinosaurs of government and industry, the more nimble and novel the replacements we devise will be. Those who escape the lock-in will find new life, not unlike the CompuServe exodus of days past.


Huh and here I thought Usenet depended on NSFnet before the internet happened. It’d be an interesting scenario. I’d like to think I know a fiar bit, but at the same time I know enough to realize there’s just so flipping much I don’t know even about subjects I enjoy.


I would spend a lot more time at the state archives for work.

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Tempted to do a blog write-up to see what I can prod my brainmeats and limited research skills into, since unlike most of what Codey discusses I actually sorta kinda know the history on this one and lived in the period in the ‘before this was a common thing’ and ‘after everyone grew dependant on it’ to have distinct memories I can form an opinionated guess of what things might be like.

  • What would be ‘The Internet’ as you would think of it? Not the Web, which I consider to be the advent of HTML Linked Documents that lives on the internet (Or Gopher, or any of a dozen other protocols that might or might not exist to serve in a time/space where a ‘network of networks’ isn’t a thing. this is perhaps the most important question because we have to establish what it is exactly that no-longer exists when the timelines diverge, and why this thing we know as ‘The Internet’ does not exist so we can figure out how the rest of the dominos may or may not fall

  • Would University run networks still be a thing? I could see campus-centric ‘Chicago University’ or ‘NYU’ or ‘FSU’ networks that you would be issued an account for if you were a student or staff, but would Usenet develop there without NSFnet to act as a backbone?

  • Would the Intel x86 sill be the standard in computing? Would there be any room for ‘home micro’ machines like the Atari ST line, Amiga, etc? Mildly important but more a curiosity.

  • ‘The Internet’ is way more than just ebay, reddit, youtube, and cat pictures. It’s a backbone service hang off of so you can do remote banking, reservations, business to business transactions, and the like. I could see an ‘internet like’ thing existing, but it never getting into the public hands since it’s seen as a business toy and distinctly separate from DARPAnet and had grown up for similar reasons 'getting machine A to talk to machine B even though the two don’t share common OS or interfacing.

  • Can anyone think of any other questions I should be asking and or pondering that I haven’t touched on? It’s one thing to go ‘I do not know this thing’ but a whole other matter to suddenly realize after the fact just exactly how much you don’t know you never knew, to begin with.

If there was no internet I would be batshit crawl up the walls crazy.

I used to be a voracious speed reader but since I got sick I can’t read more than a chapter before my brain turns to mush. TV is crap, and I will slit my wrists before I watch sitcoms or reality shows.
I can’t make it to the library so having the audiobook collection online is a great sanity saver. Podcasts and access to audio plays also keep me entertained.

The people on BBS give me enough social interaction with interesting people that I don’t feel overly isolated.

The internet to this homebody lets enough of the outside world in to make me feel a part of it, but also lets me turn it off when it gets to be too much.


Having a backbone certainly helped, but a lot of the early links were UUCP phone connections, especially out into the ad hoc leaf nodes, several hops off the backbone.



I might be able to dial into a bbs, but megabit connections would probably be hugely expensive, and gigabit connections unheard of outside of scientific research establishments. Little demand, little supply.

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