These days, all you ever hear about are iPhones, iPads, Twitter, Facebook, Google, and stuff like Gowalla and Foursquare. Do you ever wish you could just go back to a simpler, more linear, 2400 baud type of time? Well, there are a number of sites out there that can help you revisit your pre-Internet past as if it were enshrined in resin and on display at the ancient history museum.
And at some of these online museums, you can not only look, but you can touch - we're talking door games, DOS games, ANSI drawings and more.
The Early Web - The Truth (About Your Bad Web Design) Is Out ThereThe Wayback Machine is all the evidence you'll ever need that you, too, once totally sucked at Web design. It's like the Internet yearbook you never really asked for and a great way to see how websites have developed over time.
The site has "over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago." The site uses data from Alexa, and gives you snapshots of websites at various stages in their life cycle, beginning usually with the site's conception on the Web.
That first, test website you built in Microsoft Frontpage? Yeah, it still, sorta exists in some incarnation on the Wayback Machine.
The BBS DaysStepping back a little further into the history of the Internet past, we find BBSes, those dial-up messaging, file transfer, chatroom, "door game" communities that predated websites and the Internet as we've come to know it.
And honestly, in some ways, the Web as we now see it has become more and more like those gathering places of yore. Websites like Facebook and Myspace are oddly remniscent and represent more of a come-full-circle experience than a revolution in online experiences.
Making Old FriendsSo, if you aren't friends with your old BBS pals on Facebook yet, you might be able to find them on BBSmates, a list of more than 75,000 BBSes and the people that ran and used them. (I'm in there, somewhere, but I'll let you try to find that embarassing nugget of my BBS years.)
Aside from taking credit for your exploits as Co-SysOp on that one BBS for six months, you can fill your hankering for a little game of Global Wars, Baron Realms Elite and even Usurper.
BBS Source Codes, Door Games and Even ANSI ArtBBS Archives makes you feel like you've entered the late 90s from the second the site loads and it has all the files to back it up. From ACiD, the ANSI art group that's been around since 1990, to executables for L.O.R.D. and every other game you can remember, this throwback site (with its gradient fade background image) will take you right back to the days of modem init strings and BBS meets.
And please, for the sake of all of us, download that Renegade or WWIV BBS code, get it running, and lets get some Trade Wars going.
Before Text Became HypertextualGoing even a little bit deeper into the early days of the online world we have textfiles.com, the one stop shop for everything ASCII.
The site describes itself as offering "a glimpse into the history of writers and artists bound by the 128 characters that the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) allowed them. The focus is on mid-1980's textfiles and the world as it was then, but even these files are sometime retooled 1960s and 1970s works, and offshoots of this culture exist to this day."
We're talking everything from those "Anarchy texts" you showed off to your friends in school to those terrible hacker group zines you and your friends made in Word Perfect. If you thought you were cool then, wait until you read this stuff now!
Nevermind AR: We've Got Scorched EarthLast, but surely not least, we find ourselves with a DOS emulator for Windows made especially for game play called D-Fend Reloaded, that we found over at Lifehacker and admittedly started this whole Internet/BBS remniscing tirade.
And if all of these websites and tools aren't enough, we'd recommend checking out BBS: The Documentary for a full look at the way things were.
Oh, and did I mention - welcome back to your online childhood?