Marked {Unreadable Word} {Ink-blot Obscured Number}, 1977:

I love that suspense of dialing into a new system. The anticipation just rises as you wait out the handshake and give the terminal time to slowly fill with characters, the graceful dance almost hypnotic as you try to decipher its contents a handful of letters at a time. You never know what will be waiting for you on the other side. {Attached print out:

Tachyon Bridge Tunneling Service
WARNING: Unauthorized access is punishable as a felony in the United States of America under the
Temporal Rights Act of 2034.

Copyright (C) 2037 Eternium Data Corporation.
"When you absolutely need the information yesterday."(R)

Pressing a key signifies that you have read and understand the EULA, privacy policies, terms of
service, and you otherwise qualify for the service.


What a weird warning, huh? I know I was using my parent's machine and phone service and all that, but I wasn't really worried about the consequences. It wasn't like I could start a war or anything just by dialing a random bulletin board. Besides, it just seemed like the sort of weird humor that so many board operators love, so I made a copy on dad's really expensive new dot matrix printer.

Pressing a key caused things to go haywire immediately as large chunks of garbage started scrolling past. It looked like bad connection, but before I decided to reset the moment I hesitated. It was scrolling past faster than my modem's data rate. I was sure of it, and it was getting faster by the second. I started to notice bits and pieces of patterns. Something like "http://" showed up a lot. I wouldn't remember it if it weren't for the next bit of weirdness... The display shifted from characters to showing images. Not the crude images I'm familiar with... these were in color and amazingly detailed. A box popped up decorated with some sort of cartoon "flame dog". There was a box inside that box with one of those "http://" things and another box that said something like "Goggle"...

{To be continued? I couldn't resist the set-up in Unpacking the Zeitgeist and the obvious WarGames reference title.}