GIGO History

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A time not so long ago, the online world was a very different place.  The online community was for the most part a network of amateur-ran bulletin board systems (BBS's), and the Internet was a place for scientists, geeks, students, and those with money.  Back then, a 56k line could carry the Usenet newsgroups and move email, as well as provide telnet 24 hours a day, and cost hundreds of dollars..  The amateur community interfaced various applications with their BBS's, to bring the internet email and newsgroups to their BBS's, in order to offer a low cost way of getting email to their users.

A time not so long ago, the online world was a very different place.  The online community was for the most part a network of amateur-ran bulletin board systems (BBS's), and the Internet was a place for scientists, geeks, students, and those with money.  Back then, a 56k line could carry the Usenet newsgroups and move email, as well as provide telnet 24 hours a day, and cost hundreds of dollars..  The amateur community interfaced various applications with their BBS's, to bring the internet email and newsgroups to their BBS's, in order to offer a low cost way of getting email to their users.

Around September 1993, I got bent at the current crop of software.  ufgate blew goats, and the goats weren't even satisfied.  fredgate, locked up often (but it did act as a role model for GIGO).  I started making my own gateway software - with the internet half done in only a few days, and the *rest* of the entire month for the fidonet side.  Needless to say, still to this day, I'm unimpressed with the binary format (and lack of clear standards) Fidonet has.

After only a few months, GIGO became extremely popular.  I even got the main fidonet gateways in several zones to switch to it.  "fidonet.fidonet.org", the default fidonet gateway for when no other gateway was better suited, converted over (ran by the skillful Burt Juda and by the funds of IEEE.ORG - kudos to them for the service they gave for a very long time!).

I learned the true horrors of 16 bit operating systems and 16 bit programming.  Auguest, I released the OS/2 version of GIGO.  It was December that year, I released the 32 bit DOS version of GIGO (and abandoned the 16 bit users).  Pissed a few people off in the process, but 16 bit programming really did suck.  I could have probably stayed 16 bit, if fidonet would have had a sensible packet format.

Time goes by, featuritus kicks in.

Around August of 1995, I released the first set of TCP/IP utilitilies.  This let people with full time internet connections start using SMTP and NNTP with their OS/2 boxes.  This helped us get real time news and email.  My personal gateway at 1:203/2, was so fast, that incoming email from the net at large, would usually get delivered to the right BBS in the region within 15 minutes of the sender hiting the "send" key.   Windows people hated me, because to this day, I refuse to make a windows version of those programs.  (Hint: Windows doesn't favor command line junkies or BSD style tcpip sockets)

The year of 1996 went particularly slow, or fast, depending on how you look at it.   I was holding down two jobs (electronic prepress at InfoMania, as well as programming for a local ISP called CalWeb).  Average time to look at bug reports was over a month (ack!).

1997 was the killer year.  I had reduced the number of copies of all my source in preparation for upgrading O/S's.  I needed the free space, so my redundant copies were wiped out, as well as those on zip disks (needed the zip disks to transport the O/S).   At that time, the drive gave out so bad as to be 100% unrecoverable without spending thousands of dollars.  I did have a single backup, on CD-ROM, but from late 1996 - 4-5 months of my work, were gone.

Given my time constrains and how bad support had gotten, I finally threw in the towel.   I posted the source code publicly on my FTP server, as well as made a [free_key.html web-based key generator], so that those unregistered people can continue using GIGO.  I commited to maintaining the GIGO site, so that people could get keys as well as have a central repository of any future GIGO developement, as well as hosting [support.html discussion lists].  It was one of the most depressing points in my life that didn't involve a family death.


Originally published: 2001-01-01 12:00:00 -0800, by jfesler