IRC – what a hoot

My friend and Finkville citizen Suzanne lives in the Netherlands with her handsome Dutch husband, Harold. She wrote a comment on yesterday’s blog that really brought back some memories. All ye who are geeky and all about this here internet thing, read on. (Those who aren’t can read on as well, what the heck.)

I have met some wonderful friends through a protocol developed in the late 80s/early 90s called Internet Relay Chat – or IRC. Users downloaded mIRC and pIRCch software and used it exclusively to communicate real-time on a daily basis with people from all over the planet. It was instant messaging’s granddaddy. How can I explain it…it was a cult of sorts; a brotherhood, to wit:

  • We didn’t call them “chat rooms.” That was for silly AOL users who didn’t want to know the guts of anything. Our hangouts were called “channels.” Many of us were Usenet junkies, and we made the transition pretty easily.
  • We had channel operators (chanops or just “ops”) who controlled the mayhem. We (including the Thriller, Suzanne and myself) worked our way up through the ranks and were made channel operators by the IRC gods. At one point, Thriller and I were “499” level ops, with the highest designation being 500 (or channel owner). Think of a jail setting…we were trustees of the highest order. HA
  • These weren’t just cute little “chat rooms.” At the time, we operated the channel called #newbies, where everyone who was new to IRC came to get help and learn the ropes of the software and the environment. Hundreds and hundreds of people cycled through that place every day. There were also a lot of IRC veterans who just came to hang. Many relationships, involving lifelong friendship, romance, and even animosity, developed in there. (I’m thinking of some certain Canadians…)
  • There were lots of people from Europe, Asia, Canada and the US, all coming together in one place to talk, laugh, and generally be silly. It was great, and at the time, extremely novel. It wasn’t the norm back in 1993-94 like it is now.
  • Suzanne is a wonderful friend I made through IRC, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

Suzanne: So I just blew the dust off my copy of mIRC, and connected to Undernet. Went into our old stomping grounds and found Mahatma & Clotho…whaddya know?? Cool that they’re still together, just like us.


Have a dandy day, everyone.

Fink, dinosaur

15 thoughts on “IRC – what a hoot

  1. Suzanne

    Fink wrote “Cool that they’re still together, just like us.”

    Aw shucks I’m glad we’re still together, too :-P

    Garsh I will have to see if we still have pIRCh and go visiting! Don’t know if I still remember how to do it though….

  2. Conger

    Fink, fear not, there are some new nerds that have taken up the IRC ban-hammers of awesomeness. I use x-chat 2 and frequent several game related servers and I’m an op on a server here at Case.

    P.S. I think it’s totally cool that you were on Usenet.

    Conger, nerd

  3. Sam

    Ya know, The X-Files referenced IRC (and other newly-developed computer software) quite often during the early to mid 90’s. Modern technology such as cell phones the size of a Kleenex box were frequently seen in episodes. Plus, it’s been said that The X-Files was the first television show to ever be discussed in internet “chat rooms” and/or forums.

    My point? X-Files is responsible for the development of the world wide web, albeit minute. It all makes sense. :)

    1. Rat Fink Post author


      Samuel, once again, you make me laff. And I mean that in a good way this time.


  4. BoomR

    You PC folks think that you were the ONLY ones using the Internet way back when… HMMMFFFF…. *smewch*

    For those of us tried & true MAC users, we had Homer (complete with Homer Simpson’s head as the app’s icon, and little audio clips of Homer’s voice for certain IRC events). We also had IRCle and Snak. Personally, I was a big fan of Homer & IRCle.

    Did you use any of the FTP capabilities or the built-in /whois stuff? Back in the day & in the corner of IRC where I spent WAY too much time, that’s how we traded pictures of ourselves or others so we knew what everyone looked like. There was no way to do any sort of profile on yourself, so we used the /whois to say a few words about ourselves (personal stats, hobbies, locaton, etc).

    BTW, I don’t know if you took it so far as to be in on the ground floor of video conferencing, but don’t forge that the Mac was **the** very first platform to have an affordable video cam solution – the Connectix QuickCam – $99 & it plugged into the Mac’s printer port. We used that for Cu-See-Me, Cornell University’s groundbreaking video conferencing program – paving the way for ICUII, ISPQ, and now the rest of the chat clients that offer video chat.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I do remember people using IRCle. But leave it up to us “PC people” to only think within our own little boxy world…HA

      The /whois command, yep. I always put in something like, “I see you looking at me,” or “MYOB!” :-)

      Although one of my fave lines as an op was /kick please don’t be an idiot in here

  5. Stein

    This entire thing makes me thank whomever made things easier to use. If I wanted to know “techno babble” (star trek reference) you’d see me as a computer engineer instead of a band director. My uncle tried to get me interested in this, but I just used his computer for its “psychologist” to see if I could make an inanimate object mad. The psych had a name, Dr. Bob, perhaps? If somebody remembers let me know.


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