Old Classiccmp archive

Dennis Boone drb at msu.edu
Thu Mar 1 16:49:37 CST 2018

 > Does anyone have an archive of classiccmp that goes back to the 90's?
 > If so, could I ask you to "hunt down" an old message of mine?  I once
 > wrote a "reminiscence" of connecting to the ARPANET when I was a kid
 > that I was rather pleased with.  Unfortunately, I seem to have lost
 > it in a disk crash (actually a couple of disks, primaries and
 > backups).

This one?


That last exchange of messages has me reminiscing so (with a little
tongue in cheek)...

Procedure For Connecting To The 'net Circa 1978

(That's the ARPANET for all you young whipper-snappers.  What we
called the internet before they let all of the riff-raff in.)

Initial notes:

Do not begin this procedure before 11PM.  This avoids conflicts over
telephone usage with your parents.  Net resources are generally not
available to "tourists" before this time anyway.  Resource availability
is generally best on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and holidays.
Keep an ear open for police sirens.  Rumor has it that the FCC
will come and arrest you (and/or your parents) if it detects illegal
equipment attached to the telephone system.  Another reason to operate
late at night, they probably aren't watching.

1) Move your computer from your bedroom to the kitchen table (that's
where the phone is!).  Don't connect power to the modem yet, it
produces a carrier whenever it is powered and you need to be able
to hear the far end of the telephone connection when you first dial.
Also, you want it to be cool when you initiate the connection.

2) Take the handset off of the hook and replace it with the piece of
broomstick that you fashioned for that purpose.

3) Get a big towel from the linen closet.  Fold it into quarters and
put the handset on it.  Attach the speaker and microphone to the
handset with wide rubber bands.  Fold the towel over the handset.
This will prevent various ambient sounds (like the sound of typing)
from introducing noise on the line.

4) Being sure that the cassette/modem switch (a DPDT switch that
connects the transmit and receive pins of the USART to either
the cassette interface or the modem) is in the cassette position,
load the terminal program.  Run the program.  You are greeted with
a blank screen (this is normal but you can't be 100% sure that it
loaded correctly until you have connected).  Switch the cassette/modem
switch to modem.  You may see a few garbage characters on the screen
(that's a good sign).

5) Get an ice cube from the freezer, put it in a sandwich bag and
put it on the towel next to the modem.

6) Remove the broom stick from the telephone hook and dial the NBS
(National Bureau of Standards) TIP (Terminal Interface Processor).
Listen for the call to be answered and for the carrier on the far end.
Sometimes the TIP is down and won't answer, sometimes it is down and
will answer but won't give a carrier.  If it's down, wait an hour
and try again.

7) If you get a carrier, apply power to the modem.  Start pressing
the @ (at) key once a second until it is echoed on your screen.
Listen for the chirp when you press the key.  If you don't hear it,
the terminal program isn't running correctly, hang up, unpower the
modem, reset the computer and go back to step 4.

8) Once the @ character is echoed, press enter.  You should get
an error message (I no longer remember the text).  Now type "@O
77<return>".  This instructs the TIP to connect you to the MIT-DM
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dynamic Modeling) computer.

9) Start pressing the return key once a second until you get a logon
prompt (I no longer remember the prompt text).  The user name and
password are GUEST.

10) Once logged on, wait for a minute or two, pressing enter every
ten seconds or so.  This gives the operator a chance to notice you
and kick you off if the system is busy.  If he's in a chatty mood,
you'll get a message like "The system's busy, get lost!".  If not,
your connection will just die.  If the system is busy, try again in
an hour or so.

11) I no longer remember how to start up Zork or some of the other
programs... anyone feel free to provide details I'm missing.  Keep an
ear on the connection.  If the carrier starts to change pitch, wipe
any condensation off the ice cube bag on the towel and then apply to
the smaller chip on the right on the modem board.

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