Monday, February 3, 2020

Magic Margin on Gopher

The "Old Gadget" part of Magic Margin is a bit of a potpourri. There isn't just one project I am working on and old and gadget are very much up to my discretion. Recently I have taken a trip down memory lane and been playing around with Gopher. I actually remember Gopher because of AzTec.

In the very early 90s, getting online was an expensive prospect for my lower-income family. We couldn't afford Compuserve or Prodigy. Instead, a friend of mine turned me onto a local Freenet called AzTec hosted at ASU. It was a free service where you could dial up to their bank of 2400 baud modems and connect with other computer users.

There was the regular BBS-type stuff on there. Clubs, organizations, and meetings were discussed in community bulletin boards. You had email through Pine or something else. I remember that my email address was -- just typing that takes me back! There was one way to go father afield than our local community; Lynx.

Lynx, of course, is a text-based web browser. I still use it to this day. It's a great tool to have and a fun way to make even the oldest computer part of the internet experience. Being text-based it worked better 20 years ago. Modern CCS and graphic-heavy web pages are notoriously text-limited and make for a poor experience in text-only mode. Interestingly, typecasts are not readable in Lynx. This effectively keeps the prying eyes of Big Brother at bay. (We may want to revisit this for those who are visually impaired.) It's one of the best browsers out there. In addition to being a powerful web browser, it also is a pretty good Gopher client.

Gopher is a unique way to access text on the internet. I think there is a charm about it. It's simple to understand. Most human-readable content is text (although you can use images). The file-folder concept is a departure from the web's interconnected threads. It feels like those early days of computers.

With this memory, I decided to set up my own Gopher hole. I read a few tutorials and decided to use Pygopherd on a Raspberry Pi. I used a popular dynamic DNS service to reroute the traffic to a subdomain of Magic Margin and within a few hours I had a Gopher server running next to my tiki mug collection.

If you have Lynx or another Gopher tool, you can check out the link at:


There's not much there, but what is there is just for Gopher. It's Gopher premium content!


  1. I never knew anything text based on line existed any longer. I may give it a try. I fondly remember all the text based sites. Seems the internet was a lot more fun then. Maybe because it was new also. I don't miss the slow connectivity.

  2. heh, Gopher's still in the Debian repository. Able to install and run to view your Gopher hole in about 2 minutes :D

  3. I do remember using Gopher and Lynx in the '90s. We are dinosaurs!

  4. I'd seriously thought gopher long extinct. That was my first introduction to Internet, while at university. Grad students could get an account on an IBM mainframe. THAT was a joy. We were allocated a whole 512 kilobytes of storage for email, files, etc. I remember searching every U. computer system out there for their collection of "gopher JEWELS", where all the good stuff (FAQs, joke files) was stored! Ah, those were the days!

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