I was going through some old things tonight, and I came across a few tokens of my past that sort of reminded me how I first got into computers a long time ago. It all started back in Chilliwack, years ago, when my dad got picked up a Commodore 64. That was the first “real” computer that we had access to, and we both got into gaming. Chilliwack was pretty ahead of the curve, and they even opened up their own computer club that my dad and I dropped in on from time to time (oh yeah, we were cool). Not long after, I got my own C64, complete with the “fastload” cartridge, bringing game loading times down from 10 minutes to 8 minutes or something stupid. Some guy in Chilliwack decided that he would use his modem and set up one of the first bulletin board systems (BBS’s), and before long, my dad and I had our own online presence. For those of you who don’t remember the days of the BBS, they were like really simple, localized versions of the internet. You had email, and sometimes newsgroups, but often they didn’t update more than a few times a week. Connection speeds back then were usually via 300 baud modems, so you could literally watch the screen update a line at a time as you “surfed” the BBS. My dad later got a IBM XT, and I managed to waste a few years of my life playing Police Quest, Kings Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and of course Ultima.
Shortly after, my mom got me a 386 SX-16, thinking that somehow I showed enough interested in computers (i.e. I was enough of a nerd) that I should have my own. It didn’t take me long to figure out how my modem worked, and in just a few weeks, I had my own BBS up and running in Chilliwack. Although I can’t remember how the name came to me, but at the time I thought I should call it “The Lost World BBS.” The word soon spread in Chilliwack about the 15 yr old kid who was running a BBS, and before long, the local newspaper contacted me and asked if they could do an article:
So while the Lost World BBS got people in Chilliwack interested in BBS’s, it also unfortunately got me the nickname “Modem Man” for a brief period of time (which also, rather unfortunately, coincided roughly with prom night). Thankfully they got past that name after only 3 or 4 short years.
I sort of used the BBS to get more connected with the computing world, setting up Fidonet (which at the time was a prelude to Deja-news), and contributing files and articles into the blue nowhere. I started writing shareware and managed to release a few custom BBS utilities, including a Fidonet news parser, a gaming engine, and a voting booth. One of the highlights of that era was opening the mail one day and finding a cheque in it from a guy in Texas who liked my voting booth enough to send me some money. I sent him the registration key so he could get the spiffy (*) beside the name of the voting booth, showing he was a registered user.
Once the internet started to evolve (or maybe it was my social life?), I basically let the BBS die, and took a break for a few years. When I hit university, Harv, Jeff and I had an assignment where we had to create a webpage and put it on the internet. So, at that point, I started keeping track of things I was doing (long before blogs were mainstream). Jeff taught me the hard lesson about unix permissions one day, when after a few beers, he decided to replace my photo with that of a monkey (the caption read, “I’m the monkey who didn’t understand what chmod did,” or something along those lines). I put my website through a few iterations, and kicked it up a few notches when I moved to Ottawa. At that point in time, I really wanted to keep it going so my friends and family could sort of share in my adventures out east, even though they were 5000 kms away. And I guess that was the first real time The Hidden Rift emerged. I’m also not really sure where that name came from. Just sort of popped in my head.
I used to have the website tied to www.duanestorey.org, which seemed more appropriate since I’m not a commercial website.. But, after my first year, some squatter managed to steal it from me (offering to sell it back to me for only $500). So, I told him to get bent, and registered www.duanestorey.com, and here you are. Which brings me to another point — this was probably the busiest month ever for this website. The final stats show 672 unique visitors which surfed 9855 pages (not including any spiders or crawlers). So, thanks to everyone who keeps reading!