I'm reading the Bruce Sterling book -- cutting-edge when published barely 20 years ago, it now reads as quaintly as penny-farthing bicycles, tailfins on cars, snap-brim hats and teenagers saying "keen!"
...Is there anything quite as dead as dial-up BBSes? I can still use a 1920s dial telephone; but a 300 baud modem (heck, even a superfast 2400-baud) isn't even a good doorstop. No, I'm being unfair: the landline telegraph guys use them (plus a custom interface) to telegraph one another, via a nifty hub and The TelCo, in a very clever mash-up of time-spanning technologies. (But time doth march on: Internet Morse is the coming thing!)
The Hacker Crackdown is a fascinating period piece, with the Internet looming in the background like a luxury liner headed into port but not quite yet docked and a whole slew of smaller precursors busily festering away, up close and personal. ...I remember hitting local boards with a battered Kaypro II* and a direct-connect modem (and thank you, Irv Hoff, for MDM730!), but I was (by then) a serious sort and avoided the warez d00dz and their ilk. Sterling provides a guided tour, to the extent such a thing is possible, and it's strangely like going though the Winchester mansion or the tombs of the Pharaohs.
So recent. So far away.
* Still one of the best machine/software packages for writing, ever; the bundled word processor was a composing engine superior to anything that came after. Q10 is as close as I can get and it's pretty good -- but the formatting options in PerfectWriter were better.
6 months ago