An underground network

In the eighties and early nineties, the computer department at the vocational training Institution i was working for, bet on IBM Midrange Computers (/36, later AS/400) with dumb terminals.
But we instructors wanted to do different Things with our PCs.
So it came about that we ordered parts for a network under the codename “goods for electronics lesson” and secretly run BNC cables from room to room (luckily the walls were not solid but made of plasterboard).
Now, shortly before retirement, I tidy up what has accumulated over the decades in backrooms and so i discovered on a shelf the core of the former network:

After turning power on, as if nothing had happened, the BIOS greets me.

Great, no year 2000 problem detected.

Netware 4.10 starts without complaint.

So, now l’m ging to wake up a client to listen for “FIRE PHASERS 3”!


Ah, you bring back memories of crawling around behind desks, and dusty cable trays, and searching for bad connections or missing terminators.

I think the first network I used would have been a DECnet, but I never saw the cabling. Then Apollo’s token ring, although I don’t think I ever got involved - perhaps it just worked? And then there were three networks at Inmos - a thin net for PCs, a thick net with vampire taps, and a homebrew transputer-link-over-RS-423-or-something network with chunky cables running maybe 15m at most, daisy-chaining their way from one FEP to another and eventually to a microVAX. Eventually all of them were replaced by a cat 5 star-connected system running in chunky sealed trunking. The previous cable trays were not at all sealed, and the clip-on lids were all missing.

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So I actually learned something today. :slight_smile:

fire phasers
This command emits a sound.

fire phasers n times

n – Specify the number of times, from 1 to 9, that you want the sound to emit.

Use the following command to fire the phasers two times during login on every day except Friday and fire them five times on Friday:

if day_of_week = "friday" then fire phasers 5 times
else fire phasers 2 times

This command is just made for abuse!

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Pew pew pew! There needs to be an + jsmess + novell netware demo of this. Or a video capture.

Not entirely unrelated, one of those ‘missing server’ stories (maybe apocryphal):

See also this HN discussion:
Ask HN: Are there forgotten servers out there?

Yeah, the it world is a jungle, not a crystal palace.

Oh man… I miss those days of the first half of the 90’s. Those were the days of the wild west, in were we ran closed networks without any other rule, than those of you do not touch the cables. It was an absolute wonderfull world of anarchy and piracy. And self served justice if someone was tampering with others data, then we all got together and served a bitter cold revenge on that person. Yup… I have seen my share of people suddenly having a blank harddrive or the harddrive being filled up with porno. I remember that dude, that were deleting other peoples stuff, and so we got together and found out who it was through teamwork. He ended up with his data on a removeable media and only got it back after he issued a public apollogy to those he had harmed. And then there were this extremely christian dude, that thought that he could just turn off other peoples computers, whenever we were playing doom. He said that it was satan that had a grip on us, and tried to preach the bible and pull religion down our heads. We finally had enough after 2 months of him herrasing us and the day his parents came to visit him, his computer was magically filled up with bondage porn.

I remember setting up a novell netware 3.11 server software on a computer that we had to build first. 6 months later, we installed FreeBSD on a machine much like that, and then the school decided that the BNC cables up and down the hallway, had to be replaced by professionally installed RJ45 network that used 10mbit switches. Freedom on the school died that day.


Ah, BNC connectors for networking. :slight_smile:

Those were fun days when we had to decide how long the cables between BNC connectors should be, then splicing in additional connectors as more computers joined the network, then trying to troubleshoot troublesome connections among the dust.

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