Explore quaint internet history with textfiles.com

Learn about simpler times when users lurked, read FAQ and observed netiquette

In terms of archiving internet content for posterity, Jason Scott of the Internet Archive runs his own site, textfiles.com, that specialises in vintage – you got it – text files from 1980 through to 1995. The site design reflects this: green text on a black background with nary an image or gif in sight.

If you’re looking for ezines (remember those?), ASCI artworks, text adventure walkthroughs or a treasure trove of obscure articles and manuscripts on UFO sightings, then TextFiles is the Holy Grail. There are very 1990s sub-folders dedicated to phone phreaking, hacking and freeware but one of the most interesting throwbacks is The Big Dummies Guide to the Internet.

The guide has an appendix on “internet lingo”, much of which has fallen out of use. Trolling, doxing and cyberbullying have yet to enter the lexicon but there is a reference to flaming, which sounds a little like what happens regularly on Twitter: “Online yelling and/or ranting directed at somebody else. Often results in flame wars, which occasionally turn into holy wars.” An example given of a holy war topic is the PC versus Mac “debate” (more innocent times).

If you’re a n00b to internet history, have a poke around textfiles.com and – rose-tinted glasses alert – learn about simpler times when users lurked, read the FAQ and observed netiquette before they posted and when folks said IMHO and meant it.