Home Health Fidonet starts and Potenza becomes the capital of the Italian Internet for a while

Fidonet starts and Potenza becomes the capital of the Italian Internet for a while

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On December 26, 1984, in the afternoon, the first raw installation by Fido Potenza (aka South Italy CBBS) was online for the first time “. It is a milestone in the development of the Internet in Italy that leads us to discover the figure of Giorgio Rutigliano, a computer scientist, former radio amateur and in 1984 the author of the historic step: Italy’s entry into the Fidonet computer network. In a blog of 2020 Rutigliano writes: “To understand what experience meant Fidonet for many people today it is necessary to take a big leap with the imagination. Imagine a world without smartphones, MP3 players, ADSL and, above all, without internet.

Even for those who have lived through those periods directly, it is an objectively difficult step: we are so addicted to the results of the microelectronic revolution that today it seems almost impossible that there was a time when all this was not there. However, it is important not to forget the times when the only resource for making calls outside the home was telephone booths, using the legendary tokens, and the computers were huge devices with a myriad of winking lights ”.

In short, we are at the dawn of the network. In the United States between 1983 and 1984 Tom Jennings and Ben Baker helped to create a network of computers that connect through the BBS, Bullettin Board System, systems in which users could exchange private and public messages, but also files .

Rutigliano in the summer of 1984 had also opened a BBS and when he discovers the existence of Fidonet he decides to open the first Italian node. In Potenza. “My point of view changed radically… when I read about Tom Jennings’ initiative from the pages of Byte. The networks computers in those days were an interesting and stimulating challenge that I was willing to take on. But the timing back then was not what it is today: recovering the software through my Public Domain channel took a long time. Fidonet appeared on the English bookstore listings after a long while, and it took over a month for the floppies to be physically in my hands. On the afternoon of December 26, 1984 the first installation, raw, of Fido Potenza (aka South Italy CBBS) was online for the first time “.

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But it was only in February that the system was really performing: “Honestly, my primary interest was purely technological, and I was pretty sure that only a few friends, passionate about IT and new frontiers, would connect to my BBS. I was therefore pleasantly surprised that the number of accesses was much higher than expected. Even today I can’t explain why, within a few weeks and without any kind of advertising, Fido Potenza has managed to build a solid one base of loyal users. Surely I had underestimated the number of enthusiasts already in possession of a modem, as well as the real potential of the there there which evidently worked well even in times when neither the internet nor its social networks existed ”.

Fido Potenza was followed by Fido Alessandria and Fido Pordenone; and then many others. For almost ten years Fidonet has been an important part of the Italian network. Then in May 1994 it all ended. But that’s another story.

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