Sunday, April 10, 2022

Tonight we're gonna log on like it's 1979 (Telenet, Dialcom and The Source)

Teletypes may have killed a lot of forests by emitting every line to hard copy instead of a screen, but there's something to be said for the permanence of paper, especially when people hang onto it for some reason. While getting duff units to build a functional Silent 700 Model 765 ASR teletype, which will of course be a future article, one of them was more interesting for what else it came with: a set of teletype transcripts of several users logging onto The Source, one of the earliest online services, and a complete photocopy of the service's user manual. So get out your copy of Pink Floyd's The Wall, start blasting "In The Flesh," and let's head back to 1979 and 1980 when these transcripts were printed. We'll talk a little bit about the service generally and then log on exactly as these people did — because the Silent 700 transcripts indeed show exactly what transpired and how they used them.