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NUVO at 25: the week we went online (kinda)

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As we prepare to celebrate our 25th birthday, we're looking back at some of NUVO's more interesting moments. For example:

In the May 18, 1994 issue, NUVO ran a cover story regarding our new digital presence — yep, we became the first paper in Indy to offer an online product. Boy, was it primitive. NUVO was connected to IOC/Palnet, a computer “bulletin board system” — that was about to rendered instantly obsolete (sigh) when users found themselves able to dial up something called “the world wide web” and look at all manner of content via another something called a “browser.”

By 1995, dial-up web browsing had essentially crashed the BBS market. BBS systems were primitive, to say the least.

Logon instructions, which we printed in NUVO, included the following nuggets that now seem about as technologically advanced as Fred Flintstone’s bird-needle turntable:

Set your modem and communications software to the desired speed you wish to use and set your modem parameters for 8 data bits, no parity and 1 stop bit (8,N,1). Dial 861-4498. After the modem connects, you will receive the message:

Username:

If you do NOT see the above, hit the Enter key on your keyboard a couple of times (this is almost always required at baud rates above 2400). If you still nothing try a different baud rate. At times, the modems on PalNet are shifted, and it may connect at 2400 only.

The instructions continued for several more graphs for those who hadn’t already hurled their machine through the nearest open window, culminating with:

After a certain umber of failed attempts, PalNet will disconnect you and you will need to dial back to try again.

These BBS systems were devoid of images or, heaven forbid, videos — we’re talking about a time when “porn on your computer” amounted to little more than sexting on the world’s biggest phone.

NUVO provided a handy list of “Internet newsgroups available via modem.” We continued:

Millions of computer users worldwide use these areas to post messages, begin and end arguments and rail about their favorite topics.

Remember, this was 1994, which explains why the following newsgroups existed:

alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater
alt.fan.dan-quayle
alt.fan.debbie.gibson
alt.mag.playboy
alt.mcdonalds

Not to mention groups for Dave Letterman, Nirvana, punk.straight-edge, and alt.conspiracy.jfk.

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Early users of BBS systems had begun to adopt a method of communication using something called “emoticons.” Ever the public servants, NUVO provided a tutorial (odd original grammar included):

One method people on Internet use to get their personalities across … employs “smiley faces” … for example:

“I suppose that’s fine for you, but that’s not how I’d have done it :-)”

The quoted statement above is close to a FLAME, but the use of the smiley face at the end “defuses” the statement to be a “chuckle” or “humor.”

Get it? Want to express an even BROADER range of human emotion without the benefit of Skype?

Here are some other popular smiley faces:

:-( - Unhappy smiley — too bad, disappointed, not humorous

:-O – Wonder smiley — WOW!

8-) – Other variations on smiley — use ‘8’ for eyes

Yeah, we felt the need to explain that a numeral had appeared in the icon.

B-) – Yet another — often signifies the user wears glasses

8-(((( - Exaggerated frown — VERY UNHAPPY

8-)))) – Exaggerated smile — VERY HAPPY — VERY HUMOROUS — LOTSA LAUGHS

8^) – Even more elaborate smiley face

8^P – Elaborate smiley sticking its tongue out

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