Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Internet nostalgia

Writing on VSNL brought back memories of the birth of the Internet in India. The Internet was a big thing when it was launched in India. If I am not mistaken, it was in 1996 or so (correct me if I am wrong). VSNL had two packages: a student account and a regular account. They were known as the shell account and a tcp/ip account.

The tcp/ip account was the regular internet that we are all familiar with, only a little slower. But the shell account was one amazing vintage internet, but it was available at a discounted package for students only.

It showed up in small black and white screens that looked like UNIX screens or mainframe screens and was a command driven interface! Every mail had to opened with commands, every file download happened through commands, uploads will still trickier; as geeky as they could get. Mail ids were something like user@giasbm1.vsnl.net.in (gias - gateway internet access service, bm for bombay and so on). To get this wonder of an internet, one had to get a proof of being enrolled in an educational institution as a full time student and go to their Prabhadevi office, stand in a queue and submit an application. Some time later, they would send (or did we have to collect, I am not so sure) the user name and password by snail mail. Getting connected seemed like a big thing!

Then, someone invented a program called Shellsock, which I guess was "not legal". If installed correctly, "converted" the shell account to a tcp/ip account (even slower). Successfully installing this gave us (me and my brother) a great kick. We tried to use this software for a few week until we finally upgraded to a regular internet service.

Ah, Internet nostalgia. We are still waiting for real broadband though!


Anonymous said...

I think it was 1995. I remember, when I was in Chennai, approached one of the early 'cafe' to check out what all the hype abt internet was about.The chap quoted a price of Rs.500/ hour..... which made me flee from the scene.


Karthik R said...

Still waiting for broadband? But, I thought DSL was available now? No?

Neelakantan said...

We are waiting for real broadband in most parts of the country. Broadband speeds are still way too low in the case of most service providers to be classified as high speed broadband or cable net (though that is what they sell it as).

JK said...

Glad you found it useful.

Jayakrishnan K
Co-author of ShellSock