Network Cables & Ethernet Switch Hub

My Own ISP

I was looking over my resume today—which I haven’t kept up-to-date.

When I glanced over the part where I wrote about my adventures as a one man Internet Services Provider, I get a sense of wow come over me. I would never even bother with doing something like this today. Things have changed so much. You see, I physically ran everything from my apartment in Philadelphia. There were no third parties involved (except my upstream provider).

At least, I can claim to have done this much on my own, even if at the end it was a commercial failure. Not because I didn’t have customers, but because I really didn’t make a living off it and it was an uphill battle.

I had Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) run six commercial telephone lines into the apartment (these were used for picking up the dial-up calls) and a 128 KBps ISDN line to my apartment and at my upstream providers location. I bought two Webramp ISDN routers and had one placed at my apartment and the other at my upstream providers location. All my traffic was routed thru this ISDN connection. I still have these routers in their original boxes here.

I had two computers running the whole show (I don’t remember the size of the hard drives). The operating system was Windows NT 4 Workstation. One was an AMD 160 Megahertz computer that was serving as the e-mail, Usenet (a few select text groups only), and DNS servers, and the other was a 200-something MHz computer running the Wildcat! Interactive Net Server (WINS). The DNS software I was running was BIND. I remember buying the book DNS and BIND 2nd edition to learn how to setup it up properly.

WINS is a hybrid between a BBS and a TCP/IP server. This was the software that would pick up the dial-up calls and route them to the Internet, or users could stay on the BBS where I also provided interactive casino games. These games are graphical in nature and not the old ASCII type BBS games. I remember that two dial-up customers who, when out of town, would get Internet connections and login to their accounts thru the Internet on my system and play the casino style games.

I also had one in-house dedicated hosting customer–a local Chinese newspaper. This customer alone was paying enough for me to cover the cost of the ISDN service. They kept their computer in my apartment and then logged-in remotely using pcAnywhere to manage their server. A few months later I was providing HTTP and FTP services using the Alibaba HTTP server and Cat-Soft’s Serv-U FTP server.

I had a lot of fun and some bad days too, some dial-up customers would be irritated because I was blasting them with too many ads! As much as I tried to explain the Internet to them they could never get it thru their thick heads what the Internet really was. A business customer of mine was calling me to ask how I was able to become partners with Microsoft Corp., I was like “what?” We all know that when we first run Internet Explorer the first page we see is Microsoft’s, so naturally he assumed I was in partnership with the mighty empire and getting rich off the annoying ads. LOL!

The man in the hat. I like to write, create CGI art, and to dabble in many technologies. My latest venture is to learn all I can about solar energy.

Chili Cook Off

The Chili-Cookoff

Solar Panel Array

My Solar Energy Quest

7 comments On My Own ISP

  • This is the coolest entry I’ve read in a while. The fact that you actually went trhu the trouble of setting all this is amazing to me. I wonder, how much were you charging for dial-up access and how much were the newspaper paying for hosting? Also, what year was this?

  • The service was called Cyber Networking and I ran it from June 1996 to July 1998 (It’s on my resume). I still have the WINS server, the e-mail server (MailMax), the routers, and the casino game pack.

    I believe I was charging around $14 for dial-up and the dedicated hosting customer was paying around $75 a month. The exact amount I was paying monthly for the ISDN line. The newspaper was not a mayor paper like El Nuevo Dia, more like a small city paper.

    It’s amazing, I have all this knowledge and no college degree. If I tried looking for a job in this market in Puerto Rico I would be laughed out of every interview. I guess carrying a Bachelor’s degree is like a carrying a license to work in Puerto Rico.

  • I believe many employers in PR are giving more weight to IT certifications and experience than to bachelor’s degrees. Are you pursuing any?

  • No. I have read many ads, and all of the best jobs require a Bacherlor’s degree. As far as I can tell from the ads.

  • Nelson……I knew it was you when I read about atari…..LOL….
    Give me a call when you can……let’s have lunch……are u still married…..still living in Philadelphia………lets get together…..

    call me during the day at the officce 215 7255990

  • ah i admire your efforts. and the tale about the customer thinking you were in cahoots with microsoft is priceless!

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