Single-server talkers on the internet first appeared in 1990, with the talker Cat Chat. This was a hack of the LPMud source code, put together by Chris Thompson
(aka 'Cat') at Warwick University, in England. It commonly had about
20 people on it, but rarely more.
The revolution came, when Cat Chat had crashed one day, and
(aka 'Cheeseplant') needed to talk to someone. He began work in the
afternoon of Feb 8th 1991. In the morning,
after 21 hours work emerged Cheeseplants House.
Relatively simple code to begin with, Cheeseplants later grew to being
highly advanced. For the first time, a talker had private rooms, or
'mindscapes', and people had many flexible commands available to them.
Over the summer of 91, Cheeseplants House version 2 was written, but then
completely scrapped, as the author looked in horror on the code he had
written, and declared it junk. So, in October 1991, Cheeseplants House
version 3 was released, bound to orchid.warwick.ac.uk 2001. The program
grew rapidly in size until one day, for the first time, in Janurary 1992,
an internet talker had over 100 people connected to it at the same time.
But then, disaster struck the talker community. Cheeseplants House was
closed down on Feb 5th 1992, after one kind user decided to give another
user some information
that was not strictly legal. The police descended on Warwick University, and
the talker was closed. Cheeseplants was gone, forever, but it had started
the talker movement with a great example.
With Cheeseplants gone, the talker community was scattered across the
net. Many people ended up on
, a BBS with a talker function. A few people tried to code their own
simple versions of talkers, like Fizzys Flat. However
Monochrome was never too popular, due to its limited talker, and all
of the home-made talkers either died of natural causes, or were shut
down by site-admins
Then at Warwick, the home of talkers, a small talker emarged in May
1992, it had a few hard-core users, stragglers from Cheeseplants house.
This talker, written by
(aka 'Burble') was called Elsewhere, and it was
sited at lily.warwick.ac.uk 2010 and lived there for over 6 months,
hidden from warwick systems admins due to its small size. It rarely
had more than 20 users on at once, and most of those were stragglers
In November 1992, however, Elsewhere was discovered by warwick admins,
and was shut down. It almost died then and there, if not for one of the
, (aka 'Footsteps'). Footsteps provided Elsewhere with a new site
in Florida, loligo.cc.fsu.edu 2010. In acknowledgement of his efforts,
Elsewhere was renamed Foothills.
The closure of the warwick site turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
With the talker now being based in the USA for the first time, American
users had a connection that was a lot quicker than the lagged
trans-atlantic link they had to suffer earlier. Thus, Foothills grew
rapidly in popularity with American Users, and the much larger number
of internet users in the USA meant that before long, Foothills had as
many users connecting to it, as Cheeseplants House had had over a year
Unfortunately, Footsteps left FSU shortly afterwards.
Foothills remained there at the sufference of a less than enthusiastic
systems admin who, one day, decided that enough was enough, and pulled
the plug, without any warning.
Once again Footsteps came to the rescue of Foothills, giving it a
temporary home at backus.mtsu.edu 2010. However everyone knew it would be
for a short time only, the internet link to mtsu.edu was tiny, and
Foothills would use up a large portion of it, and would not be tolorated.
Foothills soon moved to vulture.dcs.king.ac.uk 2010, after a new home
was offered for it by
(aka 'Fox'). This meant that Foothills was back in the UK, and
unfortunately meant that the American users suffered from slower links
than before, and so many of them lost interest. Foothills stayed
alive, but no longer thrived as it had at loligo. But soon, Kingston
University decided Foothills was taking up too many net.resources, and
once again, Foothills was on the move.
After a search, another user, Rod Morgan (aka Ecthelion), found
Foothills another home, at marble.bu.edu 2010. This was to be the time
of largest growth for Foothills. marble.bu.edu was sited on a very
good link, and many users throughout the world found it a reliable and
fast site to connect to. Foothills began to regularly have over 200 users
on at any one time.
At this time, a few of the Superusers (who shall remain nameless), became
a little dissatisfied with the way Foothills was being run. They managed to
steal a copy of the source code, which was then quite closely guarded, and
started up theirown talker in the UK. This talker was originally called
Marble Madness based at shadowfax.surr.ac.uk 2010,
named so to reflect the users dissatisfaction at Foothills. Marble
Madness was never opened fully at the surr.ac.uk site, but over the
next few months it was developed extensively, until in November 1993
Surfers came into being, running at
muscle.rai.kcl.ac.uk 4242 thanks to Ian Dobbie
After Surfers was made public, there was a shift, European users
started to use Surfers whilst American users continued to use
Foothills by perference. Both talkers boomed, Foothills remaining the
busier always, due to it being the oldest, and first thought-of, and
also having the quicker link for the more numerous American users.
Then, after 2 and a half years of relative secrecy, the code for
'Elsewhere' talkers was released.
(aka 'Athanasius') placed the source code for surfers on an FTP
site, and suddenly they were everywhere!
First of the new talkers on the net were Vineyard, Underworld,
Resort, and Forest. These talkers enjoyed moderate success,
but never as much as Foothills and Surfers. Then came a time when
Foothills and Surfers both had serious problems with crashing, and
continual down-time, and suddenly there was a demand for a talker.
The lucky talker that got the users was Resort. Since then, Resort
has grown to be the biggest talker on the internet, only rivalled by
Foothills for size. Over the months, Foothills and Surfers both
regained their stability, and some of their popularity, but from that
point on, Resort would always be the biggest.
Since the start of 1995, there has been an explosion of new
talkers, until now, there are talkers in most areas of the world, on a
variety of different ideas. Some have themes, some are general
chat-places, some are strict with rules, others are rule-free. All
have the same basis that they all owe their existance to the code
written by Burble, which was inspired by and was a close copy in
appearence to, Cheeseplants House, the first Internet talker.