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.
The Source was notable as one of the first online services to be oriented to the general public — billed as an "information utility" — and anticipating later operations like Prodigy, Delphi and QuantumLink by years. (Although CompuServe as a company already existed by this time, the consumer service it became better known for wasn't established until 1979.) The original concept as founded in 1978 was to send E-mail over FM radio subcarriers, but the technology proved unreliable. Pivoting to telephony instead, the company forged a deal with time-sharing provider Dialcom to use their "excess" minicomputer time overnight and weekends for the same concept. Dialcom already provided business-oriented services such as word processing and customer relationship management, and in 1978 developed the world's first commercial E-mail service, which they later offered internationally and controlled virtually the entire market for a time outside the United States. Since the cost of procuring and maintaining the minicomputers was more or less constant regardless of their utilization, the new endeavour gave Dialcom an additional revenue stream while enabling The Source's parent company, by that time christened the Telecomputing Corporation of America (TCA), to offer substantially lower rates during those underused periods. (Off-peak and on-peak rates were ubiquitous among early services for similar reasons, most of which were also minicomputer-based at that time; my parents banned me from QuantumLink, then running on Stratus hardware, when they got the very first bill.)

TCA launched The Source at COMDEX in June 1979. The one-time $100 subscription fee deterred all but the determined, and even off peak it was $2.75 an hour billed to the minute rounded up (in 2022 dollars, that was $391 to start, and $10.75 a pop). Off-peak was defined as 6pm to 7am Eastern time, and all day on weekends and selected holidays. If you were foolish or desperate, or rich, I guess, enough to use it during business hours, that was $15 an hour (about $59 today).

Dialcom used Prime minicomputers, Prime being at one time the 6th largest vendor of such systems. The earliest Prime systems from 1972 were upwardly compatible with the 16-bit Honeywell Series-16 machines, which their developers had originally worked on at NASA, but were 32-bit. Because of this engineering-centric background early Primes were designed to run Fortran and their operating system PRIMOS (or, for a time, "PR1MOS") in those days was mostly written in it. The transcripts here all give the system version as 2.x, so the Dialcom systems in use at the time were Prime 200 machines, which ran that particular version.

Dialcom's servers were located in the Washington, D.C. area, where many of their customers were also located (including a large number of U.S. Representatives); The Source was in nearby McLean, Virginia. Accessing Dialcom from D.C. was merely a matter of dialing a local number, connecting you directly to the server as a terminal.

The Source accounts were simply Dialcom accounts, like any other Dialcom client users', except they all started with the letters TCA (followed by some number of digits, in those days three). To avoid passwords being printed out on teletypes, the passwords were entered as control characters, i.e., with the CONTROL key held down, which didn't echo to the printer. Thus, at the PLEASE LOG IN prompt, a user might log in with ID TCA999 XXX, XXX actually being three CTRL-X characters. Helpfully the original operator of this system scribbled down all of the accounts they had along with their passwords and all of them were just three letters. Given that you had to have the hardware, the account number, a telephone line and a modem to even get this far, password security wasn't really a major consideration. The nearly universal usage of acoustic couplers for telecommunication limited the throughput to 300 baud; only later in the service's lifetime was 1200 baud service an option, and at extra cost.

In a like fashion, since the whole idea was low-cost (or at least lower-cost) access, TCA did not substantially customize the user environment and much of what The Source offered in terms of actual programs was simply what was already there. As they were Dialcom accounts like any other, they had command line access and a place to store files, charged by the "storage block." In July 1979, the manual listed these commands as valid (by no means exhaustive):

The E-mail facility was powered by Dialcom's pioneering E-mail service and made available to The Source subscribers, as was user-to-user chat. However, modern users might be surprised to see a BASIC interpreter on this list, plus a Fortran development environment complete with compiler and debugger (the RUN command ran a compiled Fortran program, demonstrating it was the first-class language on the machine), all part of PRIMOS. The manual warns that "[u]sers writing BASIC programs requiring the use of virtual memory must apply for a special account number and will be charged $15 per hour regardless of the time of day." RPG II, COBOL and statistical packages were also available, making The Source appealing as a low-cost time-shared large computer "for rent" to a certain class of user. The Source even obliquely solicited users to write their own programs and would include particularly useful or high-quality ones in their public offerings under a revenue-sharing agreement.

The majority of subscribers, however, used it for E-mail, chat and bulletin boards, some games, various small applications (personal finance, education, math) and its extensive databases. This was where TCA put most of its effort. Besides allowing users to create their own small databases for calendars and contacts, including automatic E-mailed reminders, The Source offered an impressive amount of partner content including stock and bond prices, travel, reviews, headline news, classifieds and weather. Here were some of them from that time:

We'll see this in action momentarily.

If you didn't live in the D.C. region, or didn't want to run up the long-distance tab from hell, Dialcom systems could be accessed remotely through the Telenet (not Telnet) packet switched network. Telenet was the first such network, established in 1975. Like Dialcom they used Prime minicomputers to manage their network, and their system initially used them for switching as well, but the second generation in use by The Source's genesis had moved to smaller switches powered by our old friend the MOS 6502 CPU. Users dialed up a port on their local Telenet Access Concentrator (TAC) to make outbound connections, which fed into one of the switches and from there out to the larger network.

Telenet offered nationwide local access numbers for TACs in most of the then-existing area codes; this manual had four pages of them in the back. While Telenet had the capability to bill you directly for your usage, The Source's system was set up for "collect calls," effectively rolling the Telenet charges into the $2.75 off-peak/$15 peak rate The Source charged you (in addition to your phone bill). This was a convenience to you for billing, but also to The Source as they didn't have to manage user logins on the Telenet network as well. Telenet had peak and off-peak rates just like everyone else. In those days it too was largely limited to 300 baud, though 1200 baud service was becoming increasingly available on many TAC ports.

While Telenet's routing could be much more complex, to an American customer it appeared divided more or less into familiar North American Numbering Plan telephone area codes, with end nodes hanging off these subnetworks. The Source's machine at Dialcom was on network 301 (this was the area code for Maryland at that time), node 24, so at the @ prompt you told Telenet to connect like so:

The C 301 24 command connected you to Dialcom as if you'd locally dialed it (specifically Dialcom's system 10, where The Source lived). It was possible to use Telenet to connect to other systems, even by trying random node numbers and seeing what you got, as long as they also permitted collect connections. Many did, but for the others there weren't a lot of places you could go without a Telenet ID of your own. If you did have one, however, it was possible to even connect to other packet-switched networks and hop internationally, all from a local telephone call.

Enough introduction: let's now see what a typical session looked like. These transcripts are all transcribed by hand (they'd probably OCR very nicely, but they are long continuous strips of thermal paper without breaks, and my flatbed scanner doesn't like that very much). I have tried to duplicate the spacing exactly and type everything as shown, including any errors by the user or the remote system. That said, any actual mistakes you see are probably mine, and I apologize in advance, except for areas marked [sic] on text that seems odd or was obviously erroneous as written. I have preserved account numbers since they are meaningless today, and I have kept all of the service-generated database data, but I have elided or completely suppressed messages that appear to contain proprietary or private content.

I dithered over how to best represent these wide lines of preformatted text in the Blogger template. Images would be precisely formatted, but wouldn't flow well, and wouldn't be nice to people with screen readers. Eventually I simply decided to break them up into individual HTML <div>s, some of which will horizontally scroll if they are too wide for the column. The nice thing is that the text is reproduced in a fashion you can search for or read, and it doesn't bunch up on the page.

For illustrative purposes I'm going to start slightly out of order, with this transcript from September 27, 1979.

TELENET
303 8A

TERMINAL=

@XY*X

The TAC this user has dialed is in the 303 area code (at that time the state of Colorado), port 8A. Telenet had varying support for many terminal types but most systems used D1, a generic dumb terminal. This is what you'd want for a simple TTY, so the user just pressed RETURN, which apparently is interpreted as a generic dumb terminal too. The XY*X line doesn't look like an actual Telenet command and appears to be line noise either from a disconnect or something else. It is immediately followed by the TAC's banner again.

TELENET
303 8A

TERMINAL=

@301 24
 ?

@C 301 24


301 24 CONNECTED
DIALCOM NETWORK SYSTEM 10

 PLEASE SIGN ON
>ID TCA875
DIALCOM PRIME SHARING 2.9B(10)
ON AT 18:42 09/27/79

After a false start and Telenet's ed-like ? error message, the user successfully connects as TCA875, entering their invisible password. The system version is 2.9B.

Without waiting for the system announcements, the user immediately types a command so that it will start when the announcements finish. This starts a database showing information on The Source's biggest news feed, provided by United Press International, or UPI (at that time the major competitor to the Associated Press; they are still around).

DATA UPI

SEE NEWS FOR PR1MECOM UPDATES

IF YOU LIVE IN BOSTON OR PHILADELPHIA TYPE "DATA ANNOUN."

PLEASE TYPE "HELP" FOR ASSISTANCE, OR "DATA LIBALL" FOR THE SOURCE INDEX....

SEE "DATA ANNOUN" FOR A LIST OF RECENT SYSTEM ANNOUNCEMENTS....

THE SOURCE IS LOOKING FOR MORE PROGRAMMERS; SEE "DATA JOB-OP"....

>

PR1MECOM isn't a typo. That's what it was called. Anybody want a job?

The DATA UPI command the user expectantly entered is immediately processed and displays information about the headline news reader. I'll display these instructions in their entirety, because we're going to use them for the next, longer session.


****************** UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL ******************



1) TO ACCESS THE UPI DATANEWS SYSTEM, SIMPLY TYPE "UPI" AND
PRESS "RETURN".

2) THEN SELECT "NATIONAL", "REGIONAL" OR "STATE" NEWS OR "FEATURES".
"FEATURES" INCLUDES MOST MAJOR NEWS SYNDICATES (NEW YORK TIMES,
UNITED FEATURES, ETC.) AS WELL AS SYNDICATED COLUMNISTS. FOR A
COMPLETE LIST OF FEATURES, INDEXED BY LOGICAL CONTENT, RETURN TO
THE "COMMAND" LEVEL, AND TYPE..............................UPI

3) SELECT FROM THE "GENERAL", "BUSINESS" OR "SPORTS" CATEGORIES;
 THE SYSTEM WILL THEN ASK YOU FOR ONE OR MORE "KEYWORDS".

4) IF YOU DO NOT ENTER A KEYWORD AND JUST PRESS "RETURN", YOU
WILL GET ALL THE STORIES IN THE CATEGORY YOU HAVE SELECTED!!!
IF YOU ENTER A KEYWORD (SUCH AS "CARTER") YOU WILL GET ALL THE
STORIES WITH THE WORD "CARTER" IN THEM.

IF YOU ENTER TWO OR MORE KEYWORDS (SUCH AS "CARTER" "ENERGY" &
"OIL"), YOU WILL GET ALL STORIES CONTAINING ANY ONE OR MORE OF
THE WORDS YOU HAVE SELECTED. (PLEASE PRESS RETURN TO CONTINUE)

The user evidently pressed RETURN.


 IF YOU ENTER TWO OR MORE WORDS JOINED BY THE WORD "AND" (SUCH
AS "CARTER" AND "ENERGY" AND "OIL"), YOU WILL GET ONLY THOSE
STORIES CONTAINING ALL THE WORDS YOU HAVE SELECTED.
(NOTE: ALL DATES ARE ENTERED AS MM/DD/YY, I.E., 6/15/79; THE ENTRY
OF ONLY A SINGLE DATE WILL CAUSE THE SYSTEM TO SEARCH FORWARD TO
THE CURRENT TIME.)

5) TO STOP A STORY PRESS THE "BREAK" KEY (CONTROL P); THE
SYSTEM WILL THEN ASK:

TYPE "B" "R" "N" "S" OR "G" AND A STORY NUMBER

TO MOVE "N" STORIES IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION FROM THAT IN
WHICH YOU WERE READING, TYPE "B" (FOR BACKWARDS), AND THE
NUMBER OF STORIES YOU WISH TO SKIP OVER, I.E. "B 12".

TO REREAD THE SAME STORY, TYPE "R".

TO MOVE "N" STORIES IN THE SAME DIRECTION IN WHICH YOU WERE
READING, TYPE "N" (FOR NEXT), AND THE NUMBER OF STORIES
YOU WISH TO SKIP OVER, I.E. "N 3".
(PLEASE PRESS RETURN TO CONTINUE)

And again.


TYPE "S", THEN "STOP", TO GET BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THE PROGRAM.

OR, TYPE "G" (FOR "GO TO") AND THE NUMBER OF THE STORY YOU WANT.

6) YOU MAY ALSO GO TO THE LATEST STORY IN EITHER THE "GENERAL",
"BUSINESS" OR "SPORTS" CATEGORIES AND, LEAVING THE SYSTEM RUNNING,
YOU WILL GET ALL FUTURE STORIES AS THEY ARE RELEASED (TICKER MODE).


7) "FEATURES" MAY ALSO BE SEARCHED USING KEYWORDS; JUST TYPE AN
AUTHOR'S NAME OR SUBJECT I.E. "ANDERSON" OR "BRIDGE" WHEN THE
SYSTEM ASKS YOU FOR THE "FEATURE NUMBER"....
(NOTE; CERTAIN FEATURES ARE PUBLISHED IRREGULARLY; WE WILL ALWAYS
STORE AT LEAST THE LATEST STORY UPON RECEIPT.....)

GOODLUCK!!! [sic] WE KNOW YOU WILL ENJOY EXPLORING THE WORLD'S FIRST
TRUE "ELECTRONIC NEWSPAPER".
PLEASE FORWARD ANY COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS TO MAILBOX TCA088.

The page was torn off the teletype at that point, no doubt to be saved for future reference. The disconnection is not shown.

WIth that introduction let's look at a longer session. This one is from a few days prior, on September 22, 1979.

TELENET
716 DK1

TERMINAL=

This TAC that the user dialed up is in the 716 area code (at that time around Buffalo-Rochester, NY), because (as the login will show) this is a different user.

@C 301 24


301 24 CONNECTED

DIALCOM NETWORK SYSTEM 10

 PLEASE SIGN ON
>ID TCA874
DIALCOM PRIME SHARING 2.9B(10)
ON AT  8:48 09/22/79


MAIL CALL (1)

SEE NEWS FOR PR1MECOM UPDATES


PLEASE TYPE "HELP" FOR ASSISTANCE, OR "DATA LIBALL" FOR THE SOURCE INDEX....

SEE "DATA ANNOUN" FOR A LIST OF RECENT SYSTEM ANNOUNCEMENTS....

THE SOURCE IS LOOKING FOR MORE PROGRAMMERS; SEE "DATA JOB-OP"....

User TCA874 has logged on and authenticated. The system version is 2.9B. They have new mail waiting, so they start the mail client to see what's there.

>MAIL
SEND, READ OR SCAN:  READ

   FROM:  TCA010            POSTED:  FRI  21-SEP-79  21:02  SYS 10  (14)
SUBJECT:  REPLY TO:  SCIENCE

--MORE--READ
READ?


--MORE--QUIT

Dialcom's mail system supported aliases, which were heavily used by The Source's customer support (these accounts apparently all started with 0). For example, The Source had a support mailbox called MAILBOX that mapped to TCA088. This message came from TCA010, or ORACLE, apparently in reply to a query this user had sent. Mail headers were strictly functional: source box, date, Dialcom system number (for The Source, always 10) and the number of lines in the reply.

To determine if you wanted to waste paper and time on a reply you already knew you didn't want to read (right now or ever), in READ mode the E-mail client immediately went into a pager before even displaying any part of the message. You pressed RETURN by itself (or typed YES) to read it, or QUIT. We'll say more about E-mail when this user reads their message at the end.

Next, they read the newspaper. While The Source advertised access to the New York Times, all of these transcripts connect to UPI. DATA UPI showed information on the service, but UPI by itself actually starts the news reader. Here, the user will access the national database and display business articles back to the 21st relating to newspapers, radio or television. In the below transcripts, I have chosen to display the entirety of the articles as the user would have seen them for veracity and historical interest, but I note for the record that all articles so shown are the copyrighted content of United Press International.

>UPI


...UPI DATANEWS... IS ON-LINE!

TYPE "HELP" OR "QUIT" AT ANY TIME...


NATIONAL (N)  REGIONAL (R)  OR STATE (S) NEWS,  FEATURES (F) OR "STOP"?
N

PICK GENERAL (G), BUSINESS (B) OR SPORTS (S) NEWS,
MISCELLANEOUS (M) OR "STOP".
B

KEY WORDS (PRESS RETURN FOR ALL STORIES):
NEWSPAPERS RADIO OR TELEVISION

ENTER STARTING & ENDING DATE - OR PRESS RETURN FOR TODAY
09/21/79 09/22/79

PICK A STARTING STORY NUMBER - FROM 1 (THE EARLIEST)
TO    2 (THE LATEST).
2

With the search entered, the user chose to look at articles in reverse order for some reason:

READ FORWARD IN TIME (RF), READ BACKWARD (RB),
SCAN FORWARD (SF) OR SCAN BACKWARD (SB)?
RB

   2 09-21 11:38 AED=

WHAT'S NEW IN STOCKS
     FOR THE WEEK SEPT. 17 _ SEPT. 21, 1979
COPYRIGHT 1979
BY UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
INCREASED DIVIDENDS
AIR PRODUCTS & CHEM _ 20C FROM 15C
ANDREA RADIO _ 8C FROM 7C
BANK OF VIRGINIA _ 29C FROM 26C
BANKERS TRUST NY _ 82 {C FROM 75C
BUNKER HILL INC SEC _ 48C FROM 47 {C
CHEMPLAST INC _ 7C FROM 6C
CROUSE HINDS _ 34 {C FROM 31 \C
DYNEER CORP _ 21C FROM 18C
EAC INDUSTRIES _ 9C FROM 6C
ENSEARCH CORP _ 39C FROM 34C
WE ARE ON STORY    2

This first (second) article was stock quotes; AED= appears to be a timezone indicator. The Silent 700 (particularly in all-uppercase mode, as this unit appears to be set to) strictly uses ASCII 1963. However, UPI seems to use a few of these characters for other purposes which the teletype cannot display: _ serves as an em-dash, and { \ probably represent fractions (if we go with the Viewdata extension to ISO 646, { would be ¼, \ would be ½ and } would be ¾).

By pressing BREAK on the terminal (CONTROL-P was also accepted), the article was halted. The Source also responded to XON and XOFF if you just wanted to pause (CTRL-Q and -S). The user flubbed the next command by forgetting a space.

TYPE "B" "R" "N" "S" OR "G" AND A STORY NUMBER
G1

TYPE R  (RESTART THIS STORY)
     S  (STOP THIS QUERY)
     N NNN  (TO GO FORWARD NNN STORIES)
            (JUST "N" TO GO TO THE NEXT ONE)
     B NNN  (TO GO BACK NNN STORIES)
OR   G NNN  TO GO TO A PARTICULAR STORY NUMBER.


WE ARE ON STORY    2
TYPE "B" "R" "N" "S" OR "G" AND A STORY NUMBER
B

PICK A STARTING STORY NUMBER - FROM 1 (THE EARLIEST)
TO    2 (THE LATEST).
1

READ FORWARD IN TIME (RF), READ BACKWARD (RB),
SCAN FORWARD (SF) OR SCAN BACKWARD (SB)?
RF

Now the other article. The user will decide this isn't what they're looking for either. UPI used a typographical convention where quotation marks are set off by an extra space; you'll see this in the other articles too.

   1 09-21 04:17 AED=

ADV FOR FRI OCT 5 OR THEREAFTER
(BIZ-975-PICTURE-MAY END AT 3EM DASH)
BUSINESS PROFILE
JAY VANANDEL _ POWER BROKER FOR BACK-TO-BASICS CAUSES
BY MARCELLA S. KREITER
   ADA, MICH. (UPI) _ AS A BUSINESSMAN, JAY VANANDEL IS AN AMERICAN
SUCCESS STORY.
   NOW, WITH THE NATION SUFFERING FROM A BAD CASE OF THE DOOMS AND
GLOOMS, HE'D LIKE TO PROJECT HIS GUNG-HO, CAN-DO PHILOSOPHY INTO THE
POLITICAL ARENA.
   VANANDEL, SILVER-HAIRED PRESENT OF THE U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE,
DOES NOT LUST FOR ELECTIVE OFFICE. HE SEES HIMSELF IN THE ROLE OF
BEHIND-THE-SCENES POWER BROKER FOR CONSERVATIVE, BACK-TO-BASICS CAUSES.
   TWENTY YEARS AGO, VANANDEL AND HIGH SCHOOL CHUM RICHARD DE VOS
BAGAN A DOOR-TO-DOOR DETERGENT SALES COMPANY IN THE BASEMENTS OF THEIR
SUBURBAN GRAND RAPIDS HOMES.
   TODAY IT IS A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR, WORLDWIDE ENTERPRISE KNOWN AS
AMWAY _ A CONTRACTION OF AMERICAN WAY AND AN EMBODIMENT OF BELIEF IN THE
FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM.
   VANANDEL, 55, LONG HAS BEEN A MOVING FORCE IN MICHIGAN POLITICS. A
MAJOR REPUBLICAN PARTY CONTRIBUTOR, HE IS FINANCE CHAIRMAN OF THE
MICHIGAN GOP AND CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE OFFCERS COMPENSATION COMMISSION,
WHICH SETS SALARIES FOR TOP STATE OFFICIALS.
   AS HEAD OF THE U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, HE HOPES TO MAKE HIS
INFLUENCE FELT ON A NATIONAL SCALE.
   AMONG OTHER THINGS, HE IS PUSHING FOR STRICT LIMITS ON TERMS IN
OFFICE FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS LIMITING FEDERAL
SPENDING AND MANDATING A BALANCED BUDGET, SUNSET LEGISLATION AND
CONGRESSIONAL VETO POWER OVER RULES MADE BY REGULATORY AGENCIES.
    "PROFESSIONAL POLITICANS ARE OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE PEOPLE,
THEY'RE ISOLATED,"  VAN
WE ARE ON STORY    1
TYPE "B" "R" "N" "S" OR "G" AND A STORY NUMBER

They quit and go back in. This time they'll look at general news with the same query parameters.

QUIT

>UPI


...UPI DATANEWS... IS ON-LINE!

TYPE "HELP" OR "QUIT" AT ANY TIME...


NATIONAL (N)  REGIONAL (R)  OR STATE (S) NEWS,  FEATURES (F) OR "STOP"?
N

PICK GENERAL (G), BUSINESS (B) OR SPORTS (S) NEWS,
MISCELLANEOUS (M) OR "STOP".
G

KEY WORDS (PRESS RETURN FOR ALL STORIES):
NEWSPAPERS RADIO OR TELEVISION

ENTER STARTING & ENDING DATE - OR PRESS RETURN FOR TODAY
09/21/79 09/22/79

PICK A STARTING STORY NUMBER - FROM 1 (THE EARLIEST)
TO   34 (THE LATEST).
1

This got them a lot more articles, so this time they're going to SCAN them, which just shows a little text before moving onto the next. I chose not to type all 34 but read the ones I did key in because articles 14 through 17 will be of interest. Some of them have UPI-internal "metadata" tacked on for photographs (obviously not available to The Source users) and subsequent editorial changes.

READ FORWARD IN TIME (RF), READ BACKWARD (RB),
SCAN FORWARD (SF) OR SCAN BACKWARD (SB)?
SF

   1 09-21 05:01 AED=

OBITUARIES
BY UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
   LOS ANGELES (UPI) _ PAUL DUBOV, WHO COLLABORATED WITH HIS WIFE TO
WRITE THE STORY OF THEIR MARRIAGE AS THE NOVEL AND LATER A MOVIE,  "WITH
SIX YOU GET EGGROLL,"  DIED THURSDAY OF CANCER AT ENCINO HOSPITAL.

   2 09-21 05:01 AED

(5GRAFLD: PICKUP7THGRAF: TWO YEARS XXX _ BOKASSA'S OVERTHROW
CONFIRMED)

   3 09-21 05:41 AED=

TELEVISION IN REVIEW:
YOU'D NEVER KNOW  "TRAPPER JOHN"
BY JOAN HANAUER
UPI TELEVISION WRITER
   NEW YORK (UPI) _ IN  "TRAPPER JOHN, M.D.,"  IF PERNELL ROBERTS
DIDN'T CALL OUT TO HAWKEYE IN HIS SLEEP, I WOULD HAVE ASSUMED ANY
CONNECTION WITH THE  "M-A-S-H"  CHARACTER WAS PURELY COINCIDENTAL.

   4 09-21 05:45 AED=

FOR RELEASE AS DESIRED
(475)
A PAPAL JOURNEY :
CARDINALS, BISHOPS, BODYGUARDS BESIDE POPE ON U.S. VISIT

   5 09-21 06:10 AED

(FRENCH SENDING IN TROOPS; MORE DETAILS ON COUP)
BY ROBERT KAYLOR
   PARIS (UPI) _ EMPEROR BOKASSA I OF THE CENTRAL AFRICAN EMPIRE WAS
OVERTHROWN LATE THURSDAY IN A COUP ENGINEERED BY THE COUSIN HE DEPOSED
13 YEARS AGO, ENDING THE SELF-PROCLAIMED EMPEROR'S BLOODY DICTATORSHIP.
BOKASSA REPORTEDLY FLED TO LIBYA.

   6 09-21 06:12 AED

(CORRECTING 2ND GRAF TO ADD FRENCH CONFIRMATION OF COUP)
BY ROBERT KAYLOR
   PARIS (UPI) _ EMPEROR BOKASSA I OF THE CENTRAL AFRICAN EMPIRE WAS
OVERTHROWN LATE THURSDAY IN A COUP ENGINEERED BY THE COUSIN HE DEPOSED
13 YEARS AGO, ENDING THE SELF-PROCLAIMED EMPEROR'S BLOODY DICTATORSHIP.
BOKASSA REPORTEDLY

   7 09-21 06:22 AED=

   EDITORS:
   MANAGING EDITORS:
   FEATURE EDITORS:
   FOLLOWING IS THE UPI LIFESTYLE HORIZONS FEATURE PACKAGE, DESIGNED
FOR MIDWEEK RELEASE.

   8 09-21 06:34 AED=

ADV FOR TUES SEPT. 25 AND THEREAFTER
(850)
(SHORTS)
(TRAVEL)
---
   BANGKOK, THAILAND (UPI) _ SLATED FOR REMOVAL MORE THAN SIX MONTHS
AGO, BANGKOK'S VAST AND VARIED WEEKEND MARKET IS STILL GOING STRONG TO
THE DELIGHT OF TOURISTS AND BARGAIN HUNTERS.

[...]

  14 09-21 12:40 PED=

(FILM DEVELOPED)
   DALLAS (UPI) _ FILM FROM A SLAIN NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER'S CAMERA HAS
BEEN DEVELOPED, NARROWING THE TIME DURING WHICH HE COULD HAVE BEEN SHORT
ON A HOTEL PARKING LOT, A SPOKESMAN FOR THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS SAID
TODAY.

  15  09-21 01:23 PED [sic]

(8GRAFLD-PICKSUP3RDGRAF:  "I AM SHOCKED _ ARRAIGNMENT) [sic]
(COMBINING TAKES)

  16 09-21 01:24 PED=

BY JOHN MOODY
   MOSCOW (UPI) _ SOVIET AUTHORITIES HAVE AGREED TO CONSIDER
EMIGRATION APPLICATIONS FROM SEVEN PENTECOSTALISTS WHO HAVE LIVED 16
MONTHS IN THE U.S. EMBASSY'S BASEMENT AND ALSO NOT TO PROSECUTE THEM, A
U.S. EMBASSY SPOKESMAN SAID FRIDAY.

  17  09-21 02:23 PED

BY BOB GROTEVANT
   HARRISBURG, PA. (UPI) _ HARRISBURG NEWS EXECUTIVES TOLD STATE
LEGISLATORS  FRIDAY THEY TRIED TO QUELL PUBLIC PANIC ABOUT THE THREE
MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR ACCIDENT ALTHOUGH THEY WERE CONFUSED AND UNSURE OF
WHAT WAS HAPPENING.

[...]

  23 09-21 03:48 PED=

   UNITED NATIONS (UPI) _ NEGOTIATIONS WERE REPORTED UNDERWAY FRIDAY
FOR THE BEATLES TO PERFORM A BENEFIT CONCERT FOR INDOCHINESE BOAT PEOPLE
REFUGEES, BUT IT APPEARED DOUBTFUL THE FAMED ROCK FOURSOME WOULD
ACTUALLY GET TOGETHER AGAIN AFTER A DECADE.

  24  09-21 04:41 PED

URGENT
BY ALVIN B. WEBB
   BEIRUT, LEBANON (UPI) _ ISRAELI TANKS AND ARMORED CARS ROLLED
ACROSS THE BORDER INTO LEBANON AT SUNDOWN FRIDAY _ THE START OF THE
JEWISH HIGH HOLY DAYS _ AND CLASHED WITH PALESTINIAN GUERRILLAS AND
LEBANESE LEFTISTS IN HEAVY FIGHTING, THE PALESTINE LIBERATION
ORGANIZATION SAID.

[...]

  29 09-21 06:48 PED=

   MONTGOMERY, ALA. (UPI) _ GOV. FOB JAMES' TELEVISED PLEA FOR
ADDITIONAL FOOD SUPPLIES FOR HURRICANE FREDERIC'S HUNGRY VICTIMS
PROMPTED AN OUTPOURING OF RESPONSE FRIDAY FROM ALABAMIANS, WHO LUGGED
THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF FOODSTUFFS TO NATIONAL GUARD ARMORIES
AROUND THE STATE.

  30 09-21 07:55 PED=

BY MACK SICK
   SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (UPI) _ A COMATOSE WOMAN ARTIFICIALLY TAKEN 165
FEET BELOW SEA LEVEL TO DISSOLVE AN AIR BUBBLE IN HER BRAIN REGAINED
CONSCIOUSNESS AND WAS RECOVERING IN A 1,600 CUBIC FOOT DECOMPRESSION
CHAMBER, AIR FORCE DOCTORS SAID FRIDAY.

  31 09-22 04:26 AED=

   LANSING, ILL. (UPI) _ JACK WALKER, FORMER ILLINOIS HOUSE SPEAKER
AND STATE SENATOR, DIED FRIDAY APPARENTLY OF A HEART ATTACK AT HIS HOME.
HE WAS 69.

  32  09-22 04:55 AED

(4GRAFLD, PICKUP3RDGRAF: WHATEVER REALLY _ STATEMENTS BY PLO AND
ISRAEL)
BY ALVIN B. WEBB
   BEIRUT, LEBANON (UPI) _ PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION OFFICIALS
TODAY SAID IT WAS  "DEFINITELY"  ISRAELI TROOPS THAT CROSSED INTO
LEBANON FRIDAY NIGHT TO ATTACK PLO POSITIONS.

  33  09-22 05:09 AED

(4GRAF INSERT AFTER1STGRAF XXX ON POWER. PICKUP 2NDGRAF: THE EVENTS __
SITUATION IN AND AROUND KABUL)

  34 09-22 07:45 AED

(6GRAFLD-PICKUP5THGRAF: STRONG POLICE _ BOKASSA TRIES TO SAY [sic] IN
FRANCE)
BY GEORGE SIBERA
   PARIS (UPI) _ FRENCH MILITARY OFFICIALS NEGOTIATED WITH FORMER
CENTRAL AFRICAN EMPEROR JEAN BEDEL BOKASSA TODAY IN AN EFFORT TO GET HIM
TO LEAVE, LESS THAN A DAY AFTER HE ARRIVED HOPING FOR ASYLUM AFTER HIS
OVERTHROW.

The user decides to actually READ the articles now, starting with number 14.

PICK A STARTING STORY NUMBER - FROM 1 (THE EARLIEST)
TO   34 (THE LATEST).
14

READ FORWARD IN TIME (RF), READ BACKWARD (RB),
SCAN FORWARD (SF) OR SCAN BACKWARD (SB)?
RF

  14 09-21 12:40 PED=

   DALLAS (UPI) _ FILM FROM A SLAIN NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER'S CAMERA HAS
BEEN DEVELOPED, NARROWING THE TIME DURING WHICH HE COULD HAVE BEEN SHOT
ON A HOTEL PARKING LOT, A SPOKESMAN FOR THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS SAID
TODAY.
   LARRY PROVART, 29, A MORNING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER SINCE 1972, WAS
FOUND ABOUT 1 P.M. THURSDAY WITH A CAMERA AROUND HIS NECK AND TWO BESIDE
HIM ON THE SEAT OF HIS CAR PARKED AT AN OUTER PARKING LOT AT THE LOEWS
ANATOLE HOTEL, SAID POLICE SPOKESMAN BOB SHAW.
   PROVART HAD A SINGLE BULLET WOUND IN THE HEART.
   HE HAD FAILED TO RETURN TO WORK FROM AN ASSIGNMENT TO COVER AN
APPEARENCE [sic] BY AGRICULTURE SECRETARY BOB BERGLAND WEDNESDAY NIGHT.
   POLICE SPOKESMAN ED SPENCER SAID OFFICERS PROVIDING SECURITY FOR
BERGLAND RECALL SEEING PROVART, AND A MORNING NEWS SPOKESMAN SAID THE
FILM IN PROVART'S CAMERA INCLUDED SHOTS OF BERGLAND, WHICH PLACES THE
TIME OF PROVART'S DEATH AFTER THE BERGLAND APPEARENCE. [sic]
   POLICE SAID THEY HAVE FOUND NO MOTIVE FOR THE KILLING.
   AUTHORITIES SAID PROVART WAS FOUND HOLDING THE MICROPHONE TO HIS
TWO-WAY RADIO. POLICE SAID NOTHING APPEARED TO BE MISSING FROM THE
VEHICLE, AND NO WEAPON HAD BEEN FOUND.
   SPENCER SAID TODAY OFFICERS HAD FOUND THE SPENT CASING FROM A
.25-CALIBER AUTOMATIC PISTOL ON THE REAR DECK OF PROVART'S CAR. OFFICERS
SAID THE CAR'S IGNITION HAD BEEN TURNED ON, BUT THE BATTERY WAS DEAD.
   A GRADUATE OF NORTH TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY, PROVART JOINED THE NEWS
IN 1972 AS AN INTERN WITH THE PAPER'S PHOTOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT. HE HAD WON
SEVERAL AWARDS FOR HIS PHOTOGRAPHY SINCE THAT TIME.
   JOSEPH M. DEALY, PRESIDENT OF THE NEWSPAPER, THURSDAY EVENING
ANNOUNCED A $5,000 REWARD WOULD BE PAID TO ANYONE PROVIDING INFORMATION
LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF PROVART'S KILLER.
   PROVART, WHO WAS DIVORCED, IS SURVIVED BY HIS MOTHER AND A SISTER.
SERVICES WERE SCHEDULED FOR 3 P.M. SATURDAY AT THE CHURCH OF THE
EPIPHANY IN RICHARDSON, TEXAS.
   INCLUDES PREVIOUS
_________
UPI 09-21 12:40 PED

  15  09-21 01:23 PED [sic]

(8GRAFLD-PICKSUP3RDGRAF:  "I AM SHOCKED _ ARRAIGNMENT) [sic]
(COMBINING TAKES)
BY ROBERT STRAND
   OAKLAND, CALIF. (UPI) _ STATE JUDGE PAUL N. HALVONIK AND HIS WIFE
WERE ARRAIGNED TODAY ON DRUG CHARGES, BUT HE DELAYED ENTERING A PLEA
UNTIL OCT. 2.
   HIS WIFE, DEBORAH, PLEADED INNOCENT TO CHARGES OF CULTIVATION OF
MARIJUANA, POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA AND POSSESSION OF COCAINE.
   THE COUPLE, WHO WERE ARRESTED AT THEIR HOME IN A POSH OAKLAND HILLS
NEIGHBORHOOD WEDNESDAY NIGHT WHEN POLICE WITH A SEARCH WARRANT FOUND 323
MARIJUANA PLANTS AND A SMALL AMOUNT OF COCAINE, APPEARED IN A GOOD MOOD
AS THEY ENTERED THE COURTROOM OF OAKLAND MUNICIPAL JUDGE RODERIC
DUNCAN.
   THEY STOOD WITH THEIR ATTORNEYS BEFORE THE JUDGE DURING THE BRIEF
PROCEEDING.
   THE CORRIDOR OURSIDE THE THIRD-FLOOR COURTROOM WAS PACKED WITH
REPORTERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS.
   AFTER THE ARRAIGNMENT, HALVONIK, A JUSTICE OF THE STATE DISTRICT
COURT OF APPEAL AND CONFIDANT OF GOV. EDMUND G. BROWN JR., TOLD
REPORTERS HIS ATTORNEY HAD ADVISED HIM NOT TO MAKE A STATEMENT.
   HOWEVER, HE SAID,  "I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT I MAKE A
STATEMENT,"  AND HE SAID HE WOULD MAKE ONE LATER IN THE DAY.
   THE ARREST OF HALVONIK, DESCRIBED AS A  "BRILLIANT MAN," STUNNED
HIS COLLEAGUES.
    "I AM SHOCKED,"  SAID A COLLEAGUE ON THE 1ST DISTRICT COURT BENCH
IN SAN FRANCISCO.  "JUSTICE HALVONIK IS A BRILLIANT MAN. I CAN ONLY HOPE
THIS IS A MISTAKE."
   HALVONIK, 40, A FORMER PROFESSIONAL JAZZ PIANIST WHO STILL PLAYS IN
HIS SPARE TIME, HAD NO IMMEDIATE COMMENT. HE AND HIS WIFE, DEBORAH, A
LAWYER, WERE TO BE ARRAIGNED TODAY IN OAKLAND-PIEDMONT MUNICIPAL COURT
ON CHARGES OF POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA FOR SALE, CULTIVATION OF MARIJUANA
AND SUSPICION OF COCAINE POSSESSION.
   THE HALVONIKS WERE ARRESTED AT THEIR OAKLAND HOME WEDNESDAY NIGHT
WHEN A SQUAD OF EIGHT VICE OFFICERS ARRIVED WITH A SEARCH WARRANT. THEY
WERE RELEASED ON THEIR OWN RECOGNIZANCE IN WHAT WAS BELIEVED TO BE THE
FIRST DRUG CASE INVOLVING A CALIFORNIA JUSTICE.
   IF CONVICTED ON THE FELONY NARCOTICS CHARGES, EACH COULD BE
DISBARRED AND THE JUDGE REMOVED FROM HIS $65,050-A-YEAR POST BY THE
STATE SUPREME COURT.
   HALVONIK, A FORMER LEGAL DIRECTOR OF THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, HAS A LONG RECORD IN
CIVIL LIBERTIES AND LITIGATION. HE JOINED BROWN IN 1975 AS THE
GOVERNOR'S LIAISON WITH THE STATE ASSEMBLY. A YEAR LATER, HE BECAME THE
STATE'S FIRST PUBLIC DEFENDER.
   BEFORE JOINING THE ACLU, HALVONIK WAS A DEPUTY STATE ATTORNEY
GENERAL AND A MEMBER OF PUBLIC ADVOCATES, INC. HIS WIFE, DEBORAH HINKEL
HALVONIK, 37, IS A FORMER ACLU STAFF LAWYER NOW IN PRIVATE PRACTICE.
   THOUGH JUDGES WERE RELUCTANT TO TALK ABOUT THE ARRESTS, ONE
PROMINENT JURIST SAID:  "INCIDENTS LIKE THIS ARE VERY TRAGIC FOR THE
JUDICIARY. I'VE KNOWN HIM FOR A LONG TIME. HE IS A VERY BRIGHT GUY, BUT
HE IS A LOOSE GUY."
   DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF TOM DONOHUE SAID THE ARRESTS FOLLOWED A
THREE-DAY INVESTIGATION BY POLICE AFTER AN OFFICER SPOTTED WHAT LOOKED
LIKE A MARIJUANA PLANT IN THE HALVONIK HOME. POLICE WERE THERE BECAUSE
MRS. HALVONIK REPORTED A BLURGLARY ON MONDAY OF A TELEVISION SET AND SOME
OTHER ITEMS.
   NARCOTICS SERGEANT LARRY RODRIQUE [sic] SAID HE AND OTHER OFFICERS USED
BINOCULARS TO CHECK OUT THE REPORT OF NARIJUANA PLANTS AND SPOTTED THEM
GROWING  "IN PLAIN VIEW"  ON THE SECOND FLOOR BALCONY OF THE HALVONIK
HOME.
   AFTER OBTAINING A WARRANT, OFFICERS WENT INTO THE HOUSE AND
REPORTED FINDING 323 MARIJUANA PLANTS, $100 WORTH OF COCAINE, AND TWO
1-OUNCE BAGS OF HIGH-GRADE PROCESSED MARIJUANA.
   HALVONIK'S APPOINTMENT TO THE BENCH WAS DEBATED FOR FOUR HOURS BY
THE STATE COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS IN 1978 BECAUSE OF AN
ALLEGATION HE POSSESSED A MARIJUANA CIGARETTE FOUR YEARS EARLIER WHILE
WAITING TO SEE A CLIENT IN SAN QUENTIN PRISON.
   ACCORDING TO AUTHORITIES, GUARDS FOUND WHAT APPEARED TO BE A JOINT
IN A PACK OF CIGARETTES WHEN HALVONIK WAS ASKED TO EMPTY HIS POCKETS
BEFORE ENTERING THE PRISON ON JULY 18, 1974.

_________
UPI 09-21 01:23 PED

  16 09-21 01:24 PED=

BY JOHN MOODY
   MOSCOW (UPI) _ SOVIET AUTHORITIES HAVE AGREE
WE ARE ON STORY   16
TYPE "B" "R" "N" "S" OR "G" AND A STORY NUMBER
N

The user skipped article 16 and moved onto article 17.

  17  09-21 02:23 PED

BY BOB GROTEVANT
   HARRISBURG, PA. (UPI) _ HARRISBURG NEWS EXECUTIVES TOLD STATE
LEGISLATORS  FRIDAY THEY TRIED TO QUELL PUBLIC PANIC ABOUT THE THREE
MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR ACCIDENT ALTHOUGH THEY WERE CONFUSED AND UNSURE OF
WHAT WAS HAPPENING.
    "WE TRIED TO KEEP AWAY FROM PANIC,"  SAID SAUL KOHLER, EXECUTIVE
EDITOR OF THE HARRISBURG PATRIOT AND EVENING NEWS.  "I WOULD LIKE TO
THINK WE SUCCEEDED."
   KOHLER TOLD THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON THREE MILE ISLAND THAT HE
FELT IT WAS HISPAPERS' RESPONSIBILITY TO NOT INCITE HYSTERIA DURING AN
EVENT HE TERMED  "UNPARALLELED IN AMERICAN JOURNALISM."
   WHILE KOHLER SAID SOME NEWS ORGANIZATIONS WERE  "LESS THAN
RESPONSIBLE"  IN THEIR REPORTING BUT ALSO SAID REPORTERS WERE GIVEN BAD
INFORMATION. [sic]
    "WE WERE PREVENTED FROM REPORTING FACTUALLY AND FAIRLY BY
METROPOLITAN EDISON, BY GENERAL PUBLIC UTILITIES, THE OPERATORS OF THE
THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR PLANT,"  HE SAID.
   MET-ED AND GPU  "DID EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER, EVERTHING [sic] IN THEIR
SPHERE OF INFLUENCE TO MINIMIZE THIS ACCIDENT, TO MINIMIZE THE POTENTIAL
CONSEQUENCES OF THIS INCIDENT, EITHER PSYCHOLOGICAL OR ACTUAL,"  KOHLER
SAID.
    "PLEASE REMEMBER WE ARE AS GOOD AS OUR SOURCES,"  KOHLER SAID.
 "WE ARE NOT NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS. WE ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS (WHAT) PEOPLE
TELL US AND WHEN WE ARE NOT TOLD THE FACTS WE CANNOT REPORT THE
FACTS."
   JOSEPH HIGGINS, GENERAL MANAGER OF WHP RADIO AND TELEVISION, SAID
HE FELT PLANT OPERATORS  "WERE DOING THE BEST THEY COULD"  TO PROVIDE
ACCURATE INFORMATION  "BUT IT JUST DIDN'T COME OFF."
   HIGGINS SAID, HOWEVER, THAT COMPARED TO LOCAL STORIES OTHERS  "WERE
NOT IN THE SAME WORLD. IT'S TWO DIFFERENT STYLES OF REPORTING."

_________
UPI 09-21 02:23 PED

Q 18 09-21 02:23 PED=
 WE ARE ON STORY   18
TYPE "B" "R" "N" "S" OR "G" AND A STORY NUMBER
QUIT

TYPE R  (RESTART THIS STORY)
     S  (STOP THIS QUERY)
     N NNN  (TO GO FORWARD NNN STORIES)
            (JUST "N" TO GO TO THE NEXT ONE)
     B NNN  (TO GO BACK NNN STORIES)
OR   G NNN  TO GO TO A PARTICULAR STORY NUMBER.


WE ARE ON STORY   18
TYPE "B" "R" "N" "S" OR "G" AND A STORY NUMBER
QUIY QUIT [sic]

Having stopped reading the headlines at story 18, the user quit back to command level to read their waiting message from The Oracle. This mailbox appears to have been monitored by The Source staff and users would get personal replies to various questions (TCA advertised it as "ASK ANY QUESTION ON ANY SUBJECT").

>MAIL
SEND, READ OR SCAN:  READ

   FROM:  TCA010            POSTED:  FRI  21-SEP-79  21:02  SYS 10  (14)
SUBJECT:  REPLY TO:  SCIENCE

--MORE--YES

DEAR TCA874,
EACH SIGNIFICANT STONE AT STONEHENGE ALIGNS WITH
AT LEAST ONE OTHER POINT TO SOME EXTREME POSITION
OF THE SUN OR THE MOON.

THE MYSTERIOUS AUBREY HOLES WERE PROBABLY USED AS
AN ECLIPSE INDICATOR.

STONEHENGE WAS A SOPHISTICATED AND BRILLIANTLY
CONCEIVED ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY, USED BY
THREE DIFFERENT GROUPS OF PEOPLE OVER A 400
YEAR PERIOD BEGINNING AROUND 1900 B.C.

THE ORACLE

Once a message was read, you could then "disposition" it (AGAIN to see it again, or DELETE, REPLY, FORWARD or SAVE, which the manual and I guess early versions of the service called FILE, to create or append to a file in your account). Storage charges applied. The user saves this message for future reference and exits.

DISPOSITION:  FILE STONEHENGE

PLEASE USE SAVE INSTEAD OF FILE

DISPOSITION:  SAVE STONEHENGE
DISPOSITION:  QUIT

Having completed their tasks, they then log off The Source. (It would also have been possible to disconnect from The Source but not from Telenet by pressing RETURN, @ and RETURN, like the old Hayes +++ sequence. This would kick you back to a @ prompt. Since The Source users didn't generally have Telenet IDs, I imagine this was not frequently done.) Before leaving, The Source reminds them they still have a message in their inbox; the action of saving it doesn't seem to have deleted it.

>OFF
OFF AT  9:12 09/22/79
CONNECT MINS = 24
CONNECT SECS = 26/16





 MAIL CALL (1)


301 24 DISCONNECTED  25:06 217 65
@

How much did this 24-minute-and-a-few-seconds call cost our intrepid user? Because they connected during business hours, they got hit with the full $15/hr charge. Assuming a 25 minute billing, that would have been $6.25, or today (2022) about $24.42.

Our next session is from January 25, 1980. PRIMOS had been updated to 2.9E. TCA875 is logging in again but notice that lower case has been enabled (unfortunately the Silent 700 Model 765 still does lower case as "little upper case" letters, but we'll use conventional lowercase here). The TAC banner is area code 305, which would have been most of southern Florida. Given where we've seen them connect from so far and the fact this is another on-peak access, I suspect our friends were quite mobile and I doubt very much they were actually paying the subscriptions themselves (probably a corporate account).

TELENET
305 5E

TERMINAL=

@C 301 24


301 24 CONNECTED
DIALCOM Network System 10

 Please Sign On
>ID TCA875
Dialcom Prime Sharing 2.9E(10)
On At 14:44 01/25/80

Effective Feb. 1, 1980, the new local Washington, D.C. access number
will be 587-4483 instead of 565-3830.

BULLETIN BOARD & CLASSIFIED GUIDELINES
TYPE..........DATA ENTECL, DATA READCL OR DATA BULLETIN

INTRODUCING: WINE OPINIONS
TASTE RATINGS OF WINES...........................DATA OPIN

BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH THE SOURCE WINE MASTER....DATA FONTE

TRAVELLING IN FAMILY-STYLE?
SAVE $$ WITH TRAVEL CLUB ADVICE..................DATA ALERT

APPLE II USERS:
TURN YOUR "DUMB" TERMINAL INTO SOMETHING NEW.....DATA APPLE

EDITORIAL "PRIVACY", 1/18/80.....................DATA EDITORIAL
RESPONSES TO EDITORIAL...........................DATA RESPONSE

Now they'll send a message to one of the other users in our little clique. Messages to a single user were free, but every subsequent recipient of a message was a 15-cent ($0.59 in 2022) surcharge per message, per recipient. (Imagine the impact that would have had on spam and unsolicited commercial E-mail.) The E-mail system allowed you to send saved messages, create mailing lists and send messages "return receipt requested." An interesting, and possibly annoying, feature was "reply requested," which actually required the recipient to reply to you immediately.

In addition to the E-mail system, TCA had access to the Datapost service. For 75 cents ($2.93) you could send a message using a special client (this didn't go through the Dialcom mailer) which was turned into a printed letter, and sent next-day mail to anyone in the continental United States. This was not unlike the later United States Postal Service E-COM hybrid mail feature, but E-COM wasn't a thing until 1982.

But wait, there's more! For a $1.25 ($4.88) charge, there was even voice E-mail. Someone wanting to send you a message, who didn't even have to be a subscriber, called a special 800 number (or a 703 number in Virginia), provided the account number, and then a message of up to 100 words. Transcriptionists between 8am and 11pm Eastern would convert the voice message to an E-mail within 30 minutes. "And you'll save money too," brags the manual, "because the cost per voicegram is only $1.25 plus regular connect time, about half that of a regular credit card or collect telephone call." That was true because you really got reamed on those. However, one could also imagine a very irked ex-partner or vengeful child could really cost you a lot of money in a hurry with this service ...

Anyway, they're sending a message. This appears to be proprietary, so I have snipped it.

>MAIL
Send, Read or Scan:  SEND
To:  TCA877
Subject:  HQ
Text:
KWW.....1/27.....
OPERATING COMMITTEE SHEDS FORMALITIES TO FIND

[...]

To conclude the message, the user presses ESCAPE/CTRL-[. They now disconnect.

K
TCA877  --  Sent

To:  QUIT


>Off At 14:49 01/25/80
Connect Mins = 5
Connect Secs = 5/7





301 24 DISCONNECTED 0:5:42 20 121

@

Incredibly, there is also a transcript of the recipient accessing the message, but we're back to uppercase.

TELENET
716 8F

TERMINAL=

@C 301 24


301 24 CONNECTED
DIALCOM NETWORK SYSTEM 10

 PLEASE SIGN ON
>ID TCA877
DIALCOM PRIME SHARING 2.9E(10)
ON AT 15:39 01/25/80

EFFECTIVE FEB. 1, 1980, THE NEW LOCAL WASHINGTON, D.C. ACCESS NUMBER
WILL BE 587-4483 INSTEAD OF 565-3830.

BULLETIN BOARD & CLASSIFIED GUIDELINES
TYPE..........DATA ENTECL, DATA READCL OR DATA BULLETIN

INTRODUCING: WINE OPINIONS
TASTE RATINGS OF WINES...........................DATA OPIN

BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH THE SOURCE WINE MASTER....DATA FONTE

TRAVELLING IN FAMILY-STYLE?
SAVE $$ WITH TRAVEL CLUB ADVICE..................DATA ALERT

APPLE II USERS:
TURN YOUR "DUMB" TERMINAL INTO SOMETHING NEW.....DATA APPLE

EDITORIAL "PRIVACY", 1/18/80.....................DATA EDITORIAL
RESPONSES TO EDITORIAL...........................DATA RESPONSE

>MAIL
SEND, READ OR SCAN:  READ

   FROM:  TCA875            POSTED:  FRI 25-JAN-80  14:49  SYS 10  (105)
SUBJECT:  HQ

--MORE--

KWW.....1/27.....
OPERATING COMMITTEE SHEDS FORMALITIES TO FIND

[...]

K

DISPOSITION:  DELETE

END OF MAIL.

SEND, READ OR SCAN:  QUIT

>OFF
OFF AT 15:44 01/25/80
CONNECT MINS = 5
CONNECT SECS = 3/3





301 24 DISCONNECTED 0:5:22 57 22

@

Good to see the care with which they treated that message.

An incomplete transcript from February 6, 1980 of yet another user and from yet another machine shows that The Source was also trying to get into tax services. This is particularly interesting given that rival CompuServe got bought by tax prep conglomerate H&R Block in 1980. Also notice that the user actually specified a terminal type (TI65), even though this probably wouldn't have made any difference, and is sending themselves a test message.

TELENET
716 8C

TERMINAL=TI65

@C 301 24


301 24 CONNECTED
DIALCOM Network System 10

 Please Sign On
>ID TCA872
Dialcom Prime Sharing 2.9E(10)
On At 16:30 02/06/80

TAKING YOU THROUGH THE 1040 AND 1040A!
THE SOURCE IS HERE TO HELP..............DATA TAX

TEST YOUR SKILL!.......................DATA CHECK

EDITORIAL "SOURCEWORLD MAGAZINE"
2/1/80............................DATA EDITORIAL

>MAIL
Send, Read or Scan:  SEND
To:  TCA872
Subject:  TI TEST
Text:

The last transcript was still in the teletype when it arrived, in the photograph at the beginning of this entry. The last login I have, from November 11, 1980, shows PRIMOS now at 2.9H.

Welcome to THE SOURCE                Prime System 2.9H(10)
On At 14:11 11/20/80
Last On At 14:08 11/20/80

l<p

The Source was expensive, but especially for the time offered users quite a lot of value for money. Unfortunately, that also meant it was very expensive to operate and it quickly ran up a large amount of debt. In 1980, Reader's Digest bought a controlling stake in the company from co-founder Jack Taub. (This infuriated original founder Bill von Meister, who successfully sued for $1 million and rolled it into a new company called Control Video Corporation. CVC's initial product, an on-demand game service for the Atari 2600, was similarly unsuccessful. Out of its ashes was formed Quantum Computer Services, who built QuantumLink out of the old Commodore 64 PlayNET service and freaked out my parents, and later became America On-Line.) Reader's Digest expected big things from its new acquisition and set up its own bank of Prime minicomputers especially to run it, divorcing the service from Dialcom (sold to ITT in 1982); it also increased the staff by more than double and expanded remote access options through the newer Tymnet network to reach more potential subscribers.

The new management's efforts may have made it more attractive as a service, but it made it even pricier to run, and in 1982 the off-peak rate jumped to $5.75/hr ($16.91) and the on-peak rate to a whopping $29.75/hr ($87.47). This made it uncompetitive compared to CompuServe, who by now were running on their corporate parent H&R Block's own DEC-based financial hardware, and therefore had much lower operating costs (whereas the higher peak rates caused Reader's Digest's Primes to sit idle during the most profitable periods). Additionally, with both trying to appeal to the same class of well-heeled user, H&R's close financial connections made it cheaper to provide the same desirable content Reader's Digest had to pay publishers more for. By summer 1982, the New York Times reported that it had barely achieved 20,000 users, just a third of its goal, while CompuServe had 27,000.

Short on capital, Reader's Digest brought Control Data Corporation on as a co-investor in 1983 (the server room picture above is from Infoworld, 1984). The Source was rebranded as an "information network" and the initial fee was slashed to $49.95, but the $10 minimum monthly charge irked consumers, and rates continued to climb to a base off-peak rate of $7.75/hr and as high as $44.75/hr. In 1987, when CDC wanted out, CompuServe had 380,000 users; The Source had just 80,000. In 1989, CompuServe itself acquired the service and shut it down, having reportedly never turned a profit.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this! What a wild ride for cost and purpose. I'm imagining being an engineer on this project and wild thoughts they must have had.

    ReplyDelete