Last Updated: March 18, 2022

This page catalogs old parts of the Internet, old Internet protocols and technology, and media relating thereto (before 1995 or so.)

If you know of anything that should be added or rectified in this list, please Contact me.




ARPANET

[Wikipedia entry for ARPANET]

ARPANET was the precursor to the Internet. The project began in 1966, and the first transmission was in 1969 (Consisting of: "lo," resulting from a failure to send the word "login"). ARPANET was a proving ground for network concepts, protocols, and applications (e.g., e-mail, in 1973), eventually culminating in the adoption of TCP/IP v4 as the standard in January of 1983.

MSGGROUP
Mailing List
1975 - 1986
[ZIP]
An ARPANET mailing list concerning messaging. Richard Stallman enters the discussion in 1976. The FINGER discussion of January 1979 is particularly interesting.
SF-LOVERS
Mailing List
1979 - 1989
[ZIP]
Mailing list for science fiction fans.
SPACE
Mailing List
1980-1989
[ZIP]
Mailing list pertaining to space travel and astronomy.

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BITNET

[Wikipedia entry for BITNET]

BITNET was a university-based computer network founded in 1981, and lasted until the 1990s. It used modems and phone lines, functioning as a store-and-forward system, relaying information from system to system. It hosted LISTSERVs, provided a "Relay" (instant messaging) system, e-mail, and gateways provided access to Usenet.

NetMonth
Newsletter
1986 - 1992
[ZIP]
News and goings-on around BITNET.
BitList
Newsletter
1985 - 1986
[ZIP]
Principally concerned with the addition of nodes and services available through BITNET.

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Internet

[Wikipedia entry for Internet]

Many old protocols from the 1970s through the dawn of the World Wide Web are still in use. Sometimes these are run on very old servers, and sometimes they are run by enthusiasts for the sake of preservation and demonstration. At one time, the World Wide Web was just one of many Internet services users interacted with. As browsers became platforms with capabilities beyond mere hypertext, most Internet services were obsoleted.

Finger (protocol)

Description

[Wikipedia]

[RFC 742]
Dec 1977
Controversial from its beginnings, finger was an antecedent of social media profiles. Users could view who was logged on to remote machines, and then individually display information about specific users, including when they last logged in, when they last checked their mail, as well as the content of .plan and .project text files users could customize in their home directories.
Finger clients Finger is available in most GNU/Linux repositories (apt-get finger) and is also available on Windows 10 machines from the command line (cmd.exe).
Responding systems

[Text file]
Some random banners/responses from around the Internet as of March 2021 (via shodan.io) / Port 79 scan [2021-03-03]

Gopher:

Description

[Wikipedia]

[RFC 1436]
Mar 1993
Before the World Wide Web became the dominant service on the Internet, Gopher was the principal mechanism by which documents were organized and served. Developed largely with the concept of consoles/terminals in mind, it was later superceded by the World Wide Web and its media-rich, GUI interface (browsers). Gopher sites are still maintained by hobbyists all over the world. Gopher is a good representation of what the Internet looked like in the very early 1990s.
Gopher clients Most GNU/Linux repositories contain one or more gopher clients (try apt-get gopher). Classic console-mode gopher clients allow fast, intuitive navigation using mostly arrow and Enter keys. You may also use a gopher proxy in your Web browser, or you can install a browser plug-in. Note that the command line browser lynx also supports gopher.
Gopherspace

(Active gopher sites)

Note: Gopher runs on port 70.

FTP:

Description

[Wikipedia]

[RFC 114]
Apr 1971

[RFC 765]
Jun 1980

[RFC 959]
Oct 1985
File Transfer Protocol was a common way of transferring files on ARPANET and later on the Internet. Commonly used in an interactive fashion, FTP enabled users to log in to another system either anonymously, or with permissions, traverse directory trees, upload ("put") or download ("get") files, and perform basic file operations on remote hosts. The original specification for FTP was published in 1971, and it ran on NCP, the predecessor to TCP/IP. As of 2021, most web browsers which support the protocol have dropped, or are dropping FTP functionality. Owing to FTP's unencrypted nature as well as its archaic implementation (occasionally causing problems with NAT routers), its functionality has largely been replaced by scp, sftp, and rsync.
FTP Clients Command line clients for FTP exist on most operating systems, including Windows, GNU/Linux (try apt-get install ftp), and Mac, sometimes installed by default. Other recommended clients include:
Responding Systems

[Text File]

2021-Oct-25
There are many FTP sites still in operation. I took 34 FTP site lists dating from 1991 - 2003, and filtered out sites which no longer resolved, nor answered on port 21. Many of these sites do not permit anonymous logins, if they ever did. However, they represent some of the oldest continually operating FTP sites on the Internet. Some of these FTP sites have files with timestamps dating back to the 1980s.

As of 2021-Oct-25:
  • 6237 FTP sites appear on the original FTP site lists.
  • 3459 sites resolve (55.5%).
  • 1278 sites connect on port 21 (20.5%).

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