Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dumb terminoids

I was so glad to find the wonderful VT100 website is still up, though doesn't seem to have been updated for nearly 5 years now. Its a website about dumb terminals, ancient technology to most geeks these days maybe but full of memories for me.

When i started my HND at Birmingham Polytechnic (as it was back then, now BCU of course) in 1990 as well as rooms full of IBM PCs (real ones) there was a Pr1me minicomputer which we logged into for programming class (Pascal) and sending e-mail. We usually logged into it from one of the PCs using Kermit terminal emulation software but there were also a number of real terminals around the polytechnic.

Baker building (B208 i think) had a whole room full of Volker-Craig VC404 terminals, and there were also some in the library as well as some other type of terminal (i think they were Volker-Craigs too) for accessing the library catalogue. Many an hour was spent pounding away on these terminals (and PCs) logged into the Pr1me. Firstly on the XCOM BBS which was installed on the Pr1me but also in a chat program. Later on we were able to venture out onto JANET and FTP files down using the Pr1me/Kermit (we couldn't use the terminals for this alas) and connecting to the Monochrome BBS (which still exists) and talking to students from other universities using Relay.

Social networking and living a life on-line being a new thing? I was doing this in the early 90s (and others were doing it long before me, get off maaa lawn you pesky kids).

I miss the simplicity of using a dumb terminal to access the Pr1me and the internet in general, it was robust, reliable and simple. Just ASCII characters on a screen. I would love to have a terminal now though i have enough computer junk in my house already (a subject for a future blog post no doubt).

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