WWWTXT: Web Docs Archive 1980-94
The artist who specializes in digital art, Daniel Rehn from Los Angeles has another unusual hobby. In 2011, he opened the WWWTXT website , where he collects digital documents of a bygone era: from 1980 to 1994.
Surprisingly, even at that time, Internet users were talking about cyberpunk, digital currencies, Internet sex and other advanced topics.
Now WWWTXT collection contains more than 100 GB of documents and continues to grow. Basically, it is supplemented with texts and pictures from Usenet (an analogue of Fido) and BBS - electronic message boards, predecessors of modern websites. Before the web, people talked and shared files on BBS. To get to one of them, it was necessary to dial a certain phone number using a modem and establish a connection with the station operator’s computer.
Probably today WWWTXT is the largest collection of its kind on the Internet. There may be more documents in the Google or Internet Archive index, but WWWTXT contains a thematic sample from a specific era.
The computer configuration of the 1988 sample
Daniel Wren himself is well acquainted with the time. In the mid 1980s at the age of 9 or 10 years old helaunched his own BBS in Illinois, where he posted various demos and pieces of digital art. To do this, he called other major BBS in New York or San Francisco, downloaded files from there and posted them at home. Thus, users did not have to spend money on long-distance communication.
A 1984 LLamasoft ad,
Daniel Rehn admits that what he saw on BBS “completely changed his personality and influenced his future life.” Probably, this can be said by anyone who had a modem in those years. As one user said in August 1985: “Things are weird here. Very, very strange . ”