Today’s Web is full of magical sites with clever user interfaces in which developers invent all manner of “useful” features such as not being able to paste passwords. A lot of sites are beautiful, really, with heavy graphics, lovely colors, and a baseline of several dozen (or is it hundred?) megabytes I load onto a tiny screen over a wobbly connection when mobile. And lest I forget, let me rave about the incredibly “useful” cookie pop-ups, GDPR warnings, and whathave-you-disclaimers which guarantee a really “wonderful” browsing experience. </rant>

It’s not all bad, obviously, and there are very many well-designed and lightweight sites, but there was a time when “surfing” looked like this:

screenshot of my Gopher site

Are you old enough to remember Gopher? It was lean, it contained mostly plain text, and it was fast. It wasn’t colorful at all, unless you got Lynx to do color or used NCSA Mosaic which was quite slow because computers then were slow.

Install a copy of lynx if you don’t yet have it, and give it a try; most modern Web browsers don’t have support for Gopher, although there is the odd FireFox, I think, plugin which might work for you.

lynx gopher://serf.jpmens.net

Interestingly, Gopher is still a bit alive: popular sites such as HackerNews have a Gopher site; you’ll find a link to it and others above. Even the hugely popular Redis key-value store by Salvatore Sanfilippo (antirez) has now had Gopher support added to it and comes with a special authoring tool.

See also:

Tell me about your Gopher site, and I’ll add it to my directory.

protocols :: 03 Mar 2019 :: e-mail