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To honor IRC's 30th birthday, we're foregoing the cake and flowers in favor of some memories.
Three long-time Ars staffers share some of their earliest IRC interactions, which remind us that the Internet has been simultaneously wonderful and kind of terrible.
You simply typed in your Net Cruiser account name and password and the application did the rest, dialing into the closest Netcom POP and handing you an IP address.
It was kind of a middle ground between the walled gardens of AOL and Compu Serve and the free-for-all of a direct university connection—there were some training wheels, but it was the actual-for-real Internet.
But remembering it again now it convinced me that I could combine that teenaged assholery with years of technology writing and reporting to become a world-class phisher—should this Ars Technica thing not pan out.
I had no idea what "Internet Relay Chat" , but I assumed that I could talk to other people. Some were obvious (#sex seemed like it probably contained what it said on the tin), while some were inscrutable and lacked channel descriptions. I typed my first words into the channel, anticipating that I would soon be talking to dozens of new friends."There," I said to myself upon seeing the all-caps angry response land in my whisper channel."I've changed the world today." This wasn't some constant sociopathic practice.Clicking Net Cruiser's IRC button brought up a list of channels on EFNet (though this was before IRC's Great Split, and you could join other networks if desired), and that list was bewildering indeed. One near the top of the list jumped out at me—#descent. There was a moment of silence, and then something odd happened. The list of users disappeared, and Net Cruiser politely played the Windows alert chime through the speakers.I was a rabidly outspoken fan of Parallax's six-degrees-of-freedom space shooter, and the chance to chat with other players seemed jaw-droppingly awesome. At the bottom of the IRC window, a new message now stood alone: "You have been kicked from channel #descent for the following reason: fuck off newbie" I guess the Internet of 1995 wasn't different from the Internet of 2018.