Mac OS 9 and the internet

Classilla logo dinosaur headHailed as the first true Internet OS by Apple, Mac OS 9 came with everything you would need for web browsing and networking. Unfortunately, the web keeps developing into a place of more bloat ("javascript hell"), ever more commercialization, censorship and walled gardens, being run by big corporations.

While efforts have been made to keep up with browser development, namely Cameron Kaiser's Classilla, it has been a battle lost. There is no way a single person or even a small team could keep up with today's resource intensive browser development.

The king is dead. All hail the king!

So while you can't surf to Facebook, Discord or YouTube with Classilla, not all is lost. Private initiatives like our sister page cornica.org provide you with tons of Quicktime videos for you to enjoy on your iMac G4. Action Retro's 68k.news leverages Google News to bring you the latest headlines and personal websites like greystash's Mac-Classic or joshc's MacHut provides valuable info & downloads for Mac OS users.

Another great resource is wiby.org, a search-engine for the un-bloated and uncommercial web. The kind of sites Google Search won't list anymore due to limited revenue potential. But they are still out there! And many of them keep getting regularly updated. Nearly all of these pages continue to be accessible directly from Mac OS 9 / Classilla, especially if you use a HTTPS proxy.

And then, there is Gopher

Gopher is a protocol that actually predates the modern www / http. It's text-based and was on the verge of dying out, before it was resurrected and started making a modest comeback in recent years. The focus on information density and the completely uncommercial nature turn Gopher into the place the WorldWideWeb once had set out to become - a web of individuals from around the world, freely sharing information and learning from eachother. Those of you who remember the 90's internet will know exactly what I am talking about.

Gopherholes (think: "websites") can be accessed by most older browsers (Classilla, Netscape) just like normal websites - something many users are not aware. For example, try typing

gopher://gopherpedia.com/

into your browser's address bar to find an entirely text-based version of Wikipedia, accessible even from the lowliest computer! Talk about design elegance ...

Apart from many personal blogs, there's a growing number of services to be discovered on Gopher. You don't need a smartphone with an app tracking every of your clicks to check your stock quotes - you can do that via Gopher. Oh and by the way, what's an ounce of gold going for today?

Time for some BBSing!

Captain's Quarters II BBS login screenAnother wonderful choice to spend your time online with others is by visiting Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). By connecting to a server running a software (the actual BBS), you gain access to forums, games, e-zines and abandonware. The system requirements are so low that you can even connect to a BBS via terminal software on a Mac 512k from 1985! This is the authentic 1980's internet feeling to many. And it comes with a flair of 80's hacking culture.

I find the most recommendable and popular BBS for Macintosh users is the Captain's Quarters II. Find all the connection info on their retro compatible website. Other notable mentions in the Macintosh category can be reached at bbs.m68k.club or klud.ge.

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated

"The original internet forum" might be a fitting description. Usenet, which developed out of the military Arpanet and university networks had been the leading place for information exchange much of the 80's and early 90's. It owed much of its success to its decentralized approach (take out 50% of the servers worldwide and the thing will keep on running nonetheless) and easy access at educational facilities.

Usenet has had a rough history for the past two decades and has been declared dead for many years since then, but if you log onto it you'll still find activity left in many newsgroups. One such is comp.sys.vintage.mac that you might want to pay a visit next time you've logged on with the help of a NNTP client like MT-Newswatcher.

Comp Sys vintage Mac
Viewing comp.sys.vintage.mac in MT-Newswatcher


If you don't have an account, Eternal-September.org offers free accounts for accessing the news server. There's also commercial offers by the Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin (Free University, Berlin, Germany) which asks 10 euros / year, but provides you with professional level support.

Author: Bolkonskij, March 2024