The good old days of shareware.

The Internet was quite a different place when I first set foot online some 20 years ago. Back then dial-up was the way to go and there was certainly more to do than just browse the web and check your e-mail. You could also transfer files using FTP, use Gopher to access information and use Telnet to connect to other computers. There was a wealth of shareware utilities available that I found handy for utilizing the Internet to its fullest. I myself invested in some of these utilities and found them indispensable, but over time, as the Internet changed, these gems no longer worked their magic and became obsolete.

For example, one of the first shareware utilities I used was a program called 4-Net from Cartoon Logic. Its handiest feature was its anti-idle tool that pinged random servers to keep my dial-up connection active. Normally it would be terminated if idle for at least 10 minutes, not good if I was trying to download a file. Now that we have DSL and broadband connections that won’t disconnect when you’re idle, well, unless you’re idle when it comes to paying for your service, 4-Net is no longer needed just to keep your connection active.

Here are some other vintage shareware utilities I used. Some of them I still find handy today.

NetTerm – This was my telnet utility of choice. Recently I’ve been under the impression that telnet was going away, but from seeing NetTerm still available for download, I could very well be wrong.

FTPEdit – This utility allowed me to connect to my web site via FTP and edit my HTML files online as if they were stored on my hard drive.

NeoTrace – One of the coolest tools I’ve ever used. It did traceroutes while plotting each point of the route on a map. Nerdy fun! This one seems to have disappeared from the Web.

DiDa – An HTML editor with a quick preview function. I still use it today to help me code the HTML code in some of my blog posts.

LIKSE – From the same author as DiDa, LIKSE (Local Internet Keyword Search Engine) is basically an offline HTML viewer with a built-in search engine for searching your locally stored HTML files. I still use it today.

Not all the antique shareware utilities I used were for the Internet. There are a few multimedia programs as well, like the ones listed here:

DubIt – I used this to add sound to a video or a media file. Not really needed anymore.

Easy Hi-Q Recorder – This is a nice sound recorder with a VCR-style timer function for recording my favorite radio shows. It’s worked well for me until I upgraded to Windows 10, and now it no longer detects any means of recording my radio streams. Sadly, I have had to part ways with it and switch to Audacity for recording my radio shows.

Rainbow MPEG Encoder – During the early days of my Internet travels, the dominant video file formats were AVI and MPEG. I used this program to convert my videos to MPEG format suitable for uploading to the Web.

There are other antique shareware programs I used, but the ones I listed here should give you an idea of what the Internet was like back in those days.

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