Words of Advice:

"We have it totally under control. It's one person coming from China. It's going to be just fine." -- Donald Trump, 1/22/2020

“We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here..and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama."
-- Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, 2/25/20

"I don't take responsibility for anything." --Donald Trump, 3/13/20

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Annual Shaking of the Idiot Tree

From the introduction of the PS/2 line of PCs through the 1990s, this was the time of the year when many families set up their first home computers. Those computers came with free trial memberships to AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy.

Those three were more than ISPs. They were the largest computer bulletin board services before the rise of the Internest and the Web. All were dial-up services. (AOL, in particular, sent out hundreds of millions of 3.5" floppies (and then CDs) as junk mail, attracting so many users who were clueless that they became collectively known as "Assholes On Line".)

CompuServe charged based on the speed of the connection; 300 baud was $6 per hour, 1200 and 2400 baud was $12/hr and it went up to nearly $60/hr for 9600 baud. There were several programs that allowed one to download the various forums and e-mail, work offline and then send outgoing traffic. Some of the programs cost nearly $100 and they would pay for themselves in a month. You could send e-mail to other systems, but there was an extra charge.

On CompuServe, if you set up a special interest group (a "sig", hence "AvSig"), they gave you 10% of the online fees. To say it was lucrative would be an understatement. Some of the sig owners made over seven figures.

So what would happen each year is that a flock of new users came around the various interest groups. The Shaking of the Idiot Tree began when someone signed into CompuServe and joined one of the Christian groups. The old hands would welcome them and then say something along the lines of "you know, there are a bunch of queers and such over at the XYZ Forum, why doncha go over and tell them the error of their ways?"

Of course, the gay men, lesbians and transgender folk were ready for that. Many had files with their standard answers, so when some newbie came in and began spouting about Leviticus, they got asked if they killed their disobedient children and stuff like that. Some ran off with their computer-tails between their legs, but a few stayed and became friends.

Now, of course, the proprietary networks are mainly defunct and most families already have computers.


Eck! said...

And there is still no shortage of idiots with their new computin machine.

The ones that are most fun are the dopes that have no clue of already worn tracks and get met at the door with it all between the eyes. The ones with no sense at all run Brady blogs.


Anonymous said...

Ah yes BlueWave OLMR etc. In 1992 I set up my own Fidonet and PODS BBS on a 2400 baud modem - single line, and had 300 users (90 day expire). It was a lot of fun :)

J. said...

I used to have a CServe account. Really thought it was innovative at the time, being able to meet and talk to people on specialized topics. Ah, the early days of primative cyberspace.