The Cellar  

Go Back   The Cellar > Images > Image of the Day

Image of the Day Images that will blow your mind - every day. [Blog] [RSS] [XML]

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 04-12-2005, 01:15 PM   #1
Undertoad
Radical Centrist
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Cottage of Prussia
Posts: 31,423
4/12/2005: A piece of Philadelphia ISP history



The time frame is 1994-95 - ancient history, when it comes to the Internet.

The Cellar was (roughly) the first system in Philadelphia to offer access to email and Usenet newsgroups, but Netaxs became the first system to offer actual IP services, first via the SLIP protocol, then via PPP.

The sudden first wave of demand for these things meant that Netaxs grew quickly from a hobby into a business. And therein lies the problem; somehow this growing beast wound up in the basement of Mark Thomas's rented twin in Wyndmoor. That's Mr. Thomas and his basement in the picture.

As long as phone company Bell was willing to run wires and equipment into that basement, Netaxs could expand and expand. In those days, running an ISP meant connecting voice lines ("plain old telephone service") into banks of modems. The consumer modems were the cheapest, so sometimes a growing internet provider would answer demand by getting Bell to run a bunch more phone lines, and then running to the nearest CompUSA and buying a cartfull of US Robotics modems off the shelves. It seemed reasonable, for a while, to construct wooden shelving for everything. And what's a few more cables here and there?

Around about this time, I visited the Netaxs basement - the Cellar needed a new card that Mr. Thomas graciously sold to me, and he offered to show me the place. Along with the water heater, about 5 feet away from all this was a washer-dryer and utility sink. I became very, very frightened indeed for the 2000 or so subscribers that they had built up by that time. But Mark and Netaxs owner Avi Freedman were good guys, and were shortly to improve the situation, so I never spread the story of how Netaxs was one broken water pipe away from cutting off over half of residential Internet access in Philadelphia.

It took several years for the equipment manufacturers and the phone companies to innovate standards and better ways to accomplish all this.

Today, every company involved in communications in any way is struggling to provide the same thing that this basement started providing back then.
Undertoad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2005, 01:21 PM   #2
wolf
lobber of scimitars
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Phila Burbs
Posts: 20,774
Wow, awesome picture. These kids today, they won't believe this, though, and they won't belive that we walked uphill both ways in the snow to get to a store where you could buy software, either.

I was one of those early netaxs subscribers ... and only dropped my account after they sold out to fast.net and I could no longer access my email.
__________________
wolf eht htiw og

"Conspiracies are the norm, not the exception." --G. Edward Griffin The Creature from Jekyll Island

High Priestess of the Church of the Whale Penis
wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2005, 04:25 PM   #3
capnhowdy
Blatantly Homosapien
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 6,200
Looks like someone shopped a pic of my desk- from behind.
Great image!
__________________
Please type slowly. I can't read very fast............... and no holy water, please.
capnhowdy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2005, 07:02 PM   #4
AstroJetson
Rapscallion
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 5
Blast from the past

I was also a subscriber. I was getting a newsgroup feed from them that I put in to a Waffel BBS system that I ran out of my house for a few of my friends.

Ahh the good old days...
__________________
Quo Vadimus,
Astro
AstroJetson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2005, 07:06 PM   #5
The Mad Hatter
I'm craaazy!
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 11
I, too, used to get my 56k dialup connection from Netaxs. I remember when they still had the blinking text, "The cat is NOT dead," on their web site at the bottom. But when they were bought out by FastNet, the service plummeted quickly and we left. Now I'm happy with my 3Mbps/768kbps DSL.
The Mad Hatter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2005, 08:00 PM   #6
xoxoxoBruce
The future is unwritten
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 71,105
I love to listen to you codgers talk about the questionably good old days.
When you did get hooked up what were the topics? Technical stuff? Politics? President Truman?
__________________
The descent of man ~ Nixon, Friedman, Reagan, Trump.
xoxoxoBruce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2005, 08:21 PM   #7
SteveDallas
Your Bartender
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Philly Burbs, PA
Posts: 7,651
I was never a Netaxs customer (I had my own internet service from work), but I was keeping an eye on them closely, primarily via the occasional second- or third-hand comment from UT and others on The Cellar who had dealings with them. My first internet experience was in 1986, and the concept that any person (who wasn't affiliated with a university, like me, or high-tech company) could just buy intenet service, and that it was being done not by the usual suspects like Compuserve or Delphi, but by (literally!) a couple guys in a basement, was radical in a way that's hard to remember today.
SteveDallas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2005, 12:43 AM   #8
wolf
lobber of scimitars
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Phila Burbs
Posts: 20,774
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstroJetson
I was also a subscriber. I was getting a newsgroup feed from them that I put in to a Waffel BBS system that I ran out of my house for a few of my friends.

Ahh the good old days...
Astro!! Great to see you buddy!!!
__________________
wolf eht htiw og

"Conspiracies are the norm, not the exception." --G. Edward Griffin The Creature from Jekyll Island

High Priestess of the Church of the Whale Penis
wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2005, 08:12 AM   #9
glatt
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 27,717
Since I'm not from the Philly area, I never had anything to do with these guys.

I was first on-line in about 1980 or 1981. My dad was/is a prof in a small college in New England, and the mainframe there was connected to the mainframe at Dartmouth Univeristy. We had a Heathkit terminal at home that my dad built from a kit, and we/I would phone in to the local college computer with a 300 baud modem with the rubber cups that grip the handset of the phone. Talk about slow. You could see the words slowly fill the screen one character at a time at about the same speed that you could follow them with your eye and read them. We had a separate phone line for the computer so we could get calls when someone was online. Once connected to the local college, we could connect to Dartmouth and join the chat room they had. We weren't connected to the rest of the world, just Dartmouth, but you could always chat with someone there. I was a junior high kid who would talk to the college students at Dartmouth and try to act like I was a college student too. I don't think I fooled anyone.

They also had the Adventure word-based computer game, so I would play that sometimes too.
glatt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2005, 09:53 AM   #10
wolf
lobber of scimitars
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Phila Burbs
Posts: 20,774
I played Adventure and Star Trek on a paper terminal when I was in high school, so that would have been 1978 or 79. I considered it important training for college, which, in fact, it turned out to be.
__________________
wolf eht htiw og

"Conspiracies are the norm, not the exception." --G. Edward Griffin The Creature from Jekyll Island

High Priestess of the Church of the Whale Penis
wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2005, 10:02 AM   #11
glatt
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 27,717
Star Trek, I forgot about that one. At the time I thought it was good, but in hindsight...
glatt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2005, 10:05 AM   #12
wolf
lobber of scimitars
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Phila Burbs
Posts: 20,774
Before the Hard Drive Crash of 03 .... I had a copy for windows. I probably still have it on a floppy here somewhere, but with my luck it's a 5-1/4 ...
__________________
wolf eht htiw og

"Conspiracies are the norm, not the exception." --G. Edward Griffin The Creature from Jekyll Island

High Priestess of the Church of the Whale Penis
wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2005, 12:35 PM   #13
York
Operations Operative
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Tienen , Belgium
Posts: 537
Cool pics! To be honest, ive never seen it before! I only remember commodore64 and Atari, but they wer another type i guess
York is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2005, 01:54 PM   #14
And
Conjunction
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Conjunction Junction
Posts: 168
My first machine was a t-1000 (not the terminator. It was from Sinclair, I think.) with a membrane keyboard. Modem? What was that? We had enough trouble just trying to get the cassette tape to download a 50 line chunk of code.
__________________
-And,
Word Wrangler and Keeper of the Cuttlefish.
And is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2005, 05:27 PM   #15
OnyxCougar
Junior Master Dwellar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Kingdom of Atlantia
Posts: 2,979
The first computer I remember having was the Timex Sinclair 2000.
__________________

Impotentes defendere libertatem non possunt.

"Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth."
~Franklin D. Roosevelt
OnyxCougar is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:53 AM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.