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Then in early 1985 when the Commodore Plus/4 came out, we purchased one at our local K-Mart store. Along with the Plus/4 came a 300 baud modem and a free introductory subscription to Compuserve. This turned out to be fate. I signed on that evening to Compuserve and from the moment I saw those words appearing on my screen through the phone lines, I was hooked!
I thought it would be really, really neat if I could make my computer work in that same fasion, where people would call it up and receive my programming on their screen. I looked around all over in order to find Software which could accomplish this for me on the Plus/4 - no luck. So I decided the only way I was going to be able to make this happen was to learn to program and create my own Bulletin Board System (BBS). I sat down one evening, picked up the Plus/4 manual, and began reading and learning to program.
In a few weeks, we were beta testing ... my brother-in-law would call with his (then) new Commodore 64, and I would troubleshoot my code while he was online ... I actually had a full-blown BBS running in approximately a months time.
From there, I purchased a Commodore 128 and had a fantastic time with all the software that I could purchase for both the C128 and the built-in C64 that it contained. I also ran a BBS on the C64 end of the Commodore for quote some time as I continued to learn programming. I mastered Commodore Basic v2.0 on the C64 as well as Commodore Basic v7.0 on the C128, and then I taught myself assembly language and a small bit of direct machine language (ML) coding. We also had a small Commodore User's Group that met every week, trading software, learning programming, and discussing new things in the computer world.
In 1987 I made the jump and purchased an IBM Clone XT (8086 processor) Computer for business record keeping. The operating system at that time was MS Dos 3.0. While it was different than the Commodore, it was rather easy to transition to. I formed a users group for IBMs and we had around 12 members in a very fast manner that met weekly. The users group grew to over 50 people at its height and was very successful.
In the Spring of 1988, The Twilight Zone BBS went 'live' with an IBM 286 clone from Swan Technologies with 640K of memory, a 20 meg Hard Drive and a 2400 baud modem. I ran RBBS software. Approximately a year later, I purchased and installed Quarterdeck's DesqView 386 Multitasking software and added a second line to the BBS. By this time, I also had 2 US Robotics Courier HST modems (14.4K for High-Speed callers.
Sometime in 1990, I decided in order to get the BBS to grow, it needed both a Sponsor and more powerful software, not to mention more phone lines. Being a founding member of the Central Wisconsin Computer Society (CWCS), I asked them if they were interested in Sponsoring the Bulletin Board Service. They were, so in exchange for use of the BBS for club business and promotion, they presented me with Artisoft's Lantastic/AI v4.1 to network the system. I also purchased a 386DX-33 and a 330 Meg SCSI Hard Drive ($1400.00 at that time for the hard drive alone!) for the growing file section. I installed LANtastic/AI and became acquainted with the operations of a LAN with my simple new peer-to-peer style network.
Once I felt comfortable with the LAN, I decided it was time to grow and take the next step ... I purchased 4 more 386DX-40 computers and turned the original BBS machine into a dedicated file server using LANtastic/AI, installed two 1.2 Gb SCSI hard drives, and used the new 386s for Workstations, each one running a single phone line for the BBS. I also utilized all USR Courier 28.8K modems at that time as well.
In January of 1993, I purchased a subscription with Planet Connect, a satellite-delivery method of FIDOnet Conferences and thousands of shareware files. I hooked up a new machine to the satellite feed and transported the newly-acquired files and conferences onto the File Server once a day so callers always had a ton of new files and conferences to use. We also put USA TODAY(r) online for the callers to read each morning, and we added Internet email for subscribers.
Interest in the BBS service continued to grow, and in April of 1993, The Twilight Zone BBS system was chosen from over 50,000 BBSs in the world as one of only 7 ASP HUB BBSs! WorldWide Recognition! WorldWide Recognition! Obviously, the feeling when I was notified that The Twilight Zone BBS was one of the chosen 7 is unexplainable. We began receiving callers from all over the world and subscriptions from people as far away as Portugal, Italy and other countries.
By 1995, I knew that we were in dire need of more telephone lines, and we also needed to take the BBS one step further -- full Internet Connectivity. I did a ton of research into which was the Best BBS software for us to go with to interface with the best method of Internet Connectivity that would best suit us, etc.
In May of 1995, we decided upon eSoft's TBBS for the BBS Software because of its tremendous versatility and excellent company support. We put the operating system on a single 486DX-66 computer with 8 dial-in phone lines and the users really seemed to like the change and added new features.
In June of 1995, we purchased eSoft's Internet Protocol ADapter (IPAD), formed a corporation (T-Net, Inc.), and began testing the internet capabilities. We performed countless hours of testing to ensure our subscribers would have the fastest, easiest to use, and most versatile internet service available to them. We went "live" on October 1st of 1995 with 8 phone lines into our internet service and added 8 telnet lines into and out of the BBS service. In just a few short weeks we realized that we needed more phone lines for the internet system - it was a major 'hit' with subscribers. Thus we added another 8 phone lines, bringing the total to 16. To our amazement, in another short month, we required even more internet phone lines, so we added another 16 lines to the IPADs terminal server, bringing the total to 32.
In January of 1996 we put up our Web Server for the Internet Service and began offering FREE PERSONAL WEB PAGES to our Flat Rate (unlimited) subscribers. We utilized MICROSOFT'S' Windows/NT Server v3.51 and Quarterdeck's WebServer software. Unfortunately, we felt that WebServer wasn't fast enough nor would accomodate enough simultaneous web 'hits' so we purchased O'Reilly's WebSite, a Fantastic Web Server for Windows NT.
In March of 1996, we saw that we were continuing to grow leaps and bounds so we purchased the 32-line version of TBBS for the Bulletin Board Service, and added 16 more Telnet lines into and out of the BBS, along with 2 more gigs of Hard Drives for the new files that come in on a daily basis.
In November of 1996, we added a live UPI NewsFeed into the BBS for callers to get immediate newsfeeds from all over the world.
At the end of 1996, the T-Zone BBS had 10 Dial-in Lines and 22 Telnet in/out lines. T-Net's Internet Service had 144 Dial-in lines.
By the end of 1997, the T-Zone BBS had 14 Dial-in Lines,and 32 Telnet in/out lines. T-Net's Internet Service had 250 Dial-in Lines, and local connectivity in Marshfield, Spencer and Wisconsin Rapids.
Growth continued ... and at the end of 1998, T-Net's Internet Service was up to 800+ lines, the vast majority of them being X2/v.90 56K lines with 3Com's Total Control Chassis. We became multi-homed with multiple backbone feeds to ensure the best service for our customers and to minimize the possibility of downtime. We were hooked into the backbones of MCI (now Cable & Wireless), UUNet, and Norlight. We also installed a local system in Stevens Point for Internet callers.
By the end of 1999, T-Net had 1400+ phone lines and growth was still snowballing.
At the end of 2000, T-Net had 1900+ phone lines, growth is still ongoing, and we began offering DSL services in the Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids areas.
In Mid 2001, we added Nationwide Connectivity. We also have upgraded
our backbone feeds to Dual DS3s from 2 separate Tier 1 Backbone Providers
to ensure top-of-the-line quality for our customers. We built a 24x7
Call Center manned by professional technicians to help any of our customers
with internet-related problems 24 hours a day. We also installed a 35,000
watt generator to ensure we can never lose power for our equipment at our
headquarters, again, to ensure our customers receive the best possible service
available. We know of no other ISP that does what T-Net does for its
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