Believe it or not, there was a time before the Internet and the Web, I too have a hard time remembering those pre-Internet days. If you wanted to hang out in “Cyberspace” pre mid 90’s, your destination was most likely a BBS waiting on the other end of the phone line.
I won’t go into the gory, geeky details of how to connect a machine the old fashioned way to a BBS, that is through a dial up modem, those details can be found in an article I wrote for the Amigos Podcast which you can find here. Dial up modems are surprisingly becoming rare, it wasn’t that many years ago that I would see them being thrown out as electronic waste. But with patience you can find a bargain at a yard sale or flea market. I was watching one device on ebay when I happened across a USR 33.6k Sportster fax modem for a $1.
On the software side, after consulting with an old friend in the UK, I downloaded and installed Term for the Amiga. Term has the AT Hayes modem commands built in, saving you the hassle of remembering sets of obsolete instructions.
Jumping from the visual interface of the modern web to the ASCII character driven keyboard short cuts of yesterdays BBS is a jarring experience, especially for a web developer! But there is also something liberating about the experience. Being connected to a network and messaging systems not on the internet as we know it gives a sense of appreciation for what we have, it also feels quieter, like there’s less noise. The experience is probably akin to walking through a ghost town, there are hints of life but its also easier to hear their message.