For no particular reason, I’ve been editing the Wikipedia entry for Megatripolis this week, mainly tidying it up a bit. I added something about pHreak a while ago, but in the course of editing this time, I found this photo, taken in about 1996, of the pHreak BBS being demonstrated at the club. Ahh, nostalgia!
I think (but I’m not sure) that the person on the left is Bob Blake, who was involved with pHreak shortly before I took over – but I may be wrong. Of more interest is the fact that this photo shows the incredibly small screen we used to demo the BBS (which ran on FirstClass). I had no conception at the time that it was so wonderfully tiny! You can just about see the icons that 4i Design did for us (some of which were later adapted by Kaoru for the website). No wonder she’s squinting!
The other thing I recall is that the 14.4K modem (that was as fast as the BBS went) was connected to the club’s fax line, which meant that our connection periodically went down when the fax picked up (or somebody in the office tried to send one out). I distributed flyers for pHreak at the club and around Kings Cross a few times (“Turn on, log in, pHreak out!” – or something like that). Most people expressed just about no interest in it though – mainly of course because they didn’t have a modem. But we felt like Guild Navigators.
A clear memory from that time is how difficult it was to convince people that the net was going to amount to anything. Our insistence that it would rapidly become bigger and more important than any communications infrastructure before it was met with plain indifference, and sometimes even positive annoyance. Things have changed a great deal in that regard at least.