This is Classic Hacking: late nights port surfing in a blacklit bedroom, a slowly congealing pizza and/or take out Chinese, several loose-leaf binders and a case of canned soda within reach. Your only companions are a black cat (Enigma) and a spider plant. Your last SO has pasted a masking tape on its pot reading "Arthur".  The computer's name is "Fred". Posters include a Snoopy calendar, executed in ASCII, and something by Roger Dean.  Perhaps there's an astrological chart, or a Tree of Life, on the wall, as well as your Periodic Table. Port scanning. Root kits. War dialing. Phrack. 2600. RFC's.  Eight bits. Dial-ups that make your modem make weird sounds.

 Pretty fly for 1985.  

This website is a combination living history enactment, role-playing game, and museum of Internet culture,  circa 1985-1990 (or approximately a year or two before I came in, and a full year before the Web).  In an interface simulating the early Internet, reaching a remote host means going through various other hosts along the way and chatlines are primitive.  Graphics? Animations? Well, yes, of a kind...You can watch the whole of "Star Wars" in ASCII, but otherwise, they're space-hogging anomalies in archives of slick textfiles and games in BASIC and C. Search the Net? You're kidding, right?

 What it does have is a lively community, without spam, ads or promotion, plenty of low-graphics, but engaging games, lots to read, and an overall sense of fun. (Chat, through an online "relay" has some very inventive features.) Puns and wordplay are encouraged, and...did I mention the hacking?

 One piece of advice: since cut and paste don't work, you'll find yourself in need of a notebook and/or a more than capable printer. A copy of The New Hacker's Dictionary is also useful, if only to figure out exactly what a lot of the textfiles are talking about. And you'll need patience.

 One problem with real hacking, as opposed to movie hacking, is that the process is so slow. Hacking isn't a lot of beeping keystrokes  (that would be like attaching \a to every character, when everything is slow enough as it is) as much as it is patiently trying port after port to find the one that can be exploited to insert a new user. Gaining  administrative control over a system requires a rootkit (a term I find weirdly sensual) but also software intrinsic to this particular computer's operating system, which isn't found in the nice cozy ARPAnet, but in the wild-and-wooly BBS's...and you might have to go through quite a few before you can find a system that isn't running an online art project or has been hacked by some other freak with a sick  sense of humor. Mr. Robot this is not, but neither would any of the real hackers shoot smack or have a dog in a small city apartment, especially since you're working two jobs. (Any hacker worth their salt will tell you that it's pot, stimulants, and kitties that make the hacker world go round.) When that gets boring, you might try hacking a simulated military installation, or even a satellite!

  Achieving goals get you kudos, and you can learn an awful lot about the basics of security and networking, especially if you read the textfiles.

 So, what's not to like?

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