When I Was Your Age...
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I've always wondered at which age would someone become really eligible to use the phrase "When I was your age"? Don't you at least need to be middle age..? When I was a kid, I used to think this phrase is reserved for the grandparents and it is better to be used in the context of price comparisons. Because, they were the ones who would use this expression every time they hear the price of, well, anything they hadn't been recently buying, like school supplies.

This eligibility criteria; "you need to be old and should be amazed by high inflation", was later changed for me after I had become a student at Computer Engineering department. While I was doing one of my homework at a terminal (attention, not a PC, a dumb tube), an old timer (probably a 4th year student, or maybe a MS student) told me how lucky we were, the new students, for not having used to punch cards. And he did also use the killer phrase with such an ease; "When I (we) were your age, we had to use the punch cards to develop programs". That day, I realized, thanks to the technology, the phrase had finally become disposable for younger generation as well. Even a twenty five year old can use it; play the "I have seen it all" role against to someone only a couple of years younger.

When I got the email from Cengiz Acartürk, asking me if I could contribute for the 10th anniversary issue of the CISN, I was quite surprised. Surprised to realize it had been almost 10 years since I left METUCC. Even I joked about it asking him if this is just to remind us, the ex-METUCC employees, that we're getting older. I gladly accepted the offer to write an article, and decided I'd better write a nostalgic piece, a non-technical one. From a quick glance at the cisn.metu.edu.tr, the current crew is doing an excellent job of writing technical articles anyway.

After I graduated from Computer Engineering department, I had worked at METUCC for over 5 years. And I did really enjoy it. I think a computer center of a leading university, like METUCC has much more dynamics than anywhere else to start your profession. In 5 years I had witnessed several exciting happenings at METU; the IBM3090 installation, first campus wide backbone token ring deployment, Turkey's first Internet connection, METU-CWIS (http://www.metu.edu.tr), PC networks (Banyan and Novell), PC rooms, IBM3090 retirement, UNIX servers installation and so on. It had been a really good experience.

And having your office in the METU Campus, instead of some place in Ankara downtown, what can possibly beat that? I have been living in the US since I left METUCC and at every opportunity I have been to several university campuses, like Berkeley, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, University of Texas, University of Washington and many others. And in every visit, I've appreciated the METU Campus one more time.

Ten years… Back to the "in the old days" theme as my title suggested, it's now perfect opportunity for me to play the role of wise and remind the new generations how lucky and spoiled they are.

At the Beginning (1990-1993)


When I was your age, there wasn't any network. Well there were cables connecting dumb terminals to the mainframe but I guess it doesn't count. It may be a bold statement, but I think the very first network in METU was an Ethernet(1) cable between my PC and Kürşat's (Çağıltay) PC. And when I say Ethernet, I don't mean today's highly popular 100Mbs over RJ45 (telephone) probably in a star topology with a small and affordable hub. Our version was a 10Mb Ethernet over a coaxial (often blue colored) cable with T-Connectors. This bus topology was acceptable for two PC, but when as you add more computers, the reliability was an issue, since when any of the connections were unplugged, the whole network was going down. Since, there was no campus backbone, to use to the main servers (Unisys, IBM3090); you actually needed to walk to the closest terminal room.


We weren't connected. O.K, there was something called BITNET. You could send emails and it was relatively faster than postal mail.


I can not say we didn't have FTP. There was a way for file transfer from Internet, some workaround. We were an email/ftp gateway service running at Princeton University, called BITNET FTP Server (http://iubio.bio.indiana.edu/soft/help/old/bitnet-ftp.help). To get a file, here's what you would do; you put ftp commands in an email and send the email to the Bitnet FTP Server and cross your fingers. Then, in the following days, you check your mailbox to see if the file has arrived. If the file you requested is big (say over 30KB J), you would wait until all the pieces of file has arrived (You didn't expect to receive the file in one piece, did you?). And the file pieces were sent as encoded text in the mail body, since there wasn't a concept of MIME attachments in those days. If you're lucky you got all the pieces in one try. But quite often, 1 or 2 pieces were missing, so you would send a new request. After having all pieces arrived, you had to save the emails and get the pieces together and run the uuencode(2) program manually to convert the requested file in its original format. It was fun (No, it wasn't).


Well, of course we had storage. But when you see personal MP3 players with 20GB storage these days, it seems like the storage we had those days was so insignificant in size. I remember the joy we had with Kursat when upgrading one of the network servers (This is after we had the token ring backbone installed, PC rooms opened and some departmental PC networks started) users' disk from 200MB to 1GB. We were amazed the price drops in the storage, 1 (one) GB hard disk was around $1000; it was so cheap!!! $1 per 1MB price was almost unbelievable. Last month when I was shopping for my PC, I almost felt guilty to buy a 120GB Hard Drive for $80. I felt like, "This is way too much for personal use, I have to share this".

Installing Software from DVD

Please see the section installing software from CD.

Installing Software from CD

At this point you've probably figured it out; I had worked with Kursat in a big percentage of my 5 years of employment at METUCC. I was working in the network group first, then in the Informatics group and also involved in the TR-Net project. So, there's no coincidence that most of my METUCC memories involves Kursat (And he was / is a good friend too). I had this image of him inserting infinite number of diskettes one by one with a great patience. Since he's in METU nowadays, next time you run into him, please ask him how did it feel in the old days to install/upgrade a network server (Banyan or Netware, the brand name of the software doesn't matter) from over 20 diskettes. Of course I had my fair share of this diskette ritual too. And often to prove the Murphy's laws, installation probably crashes in the 19th diskette or better someone steps into the room, and trips over the power cord of the server and you can only smile and reach to the first diskette again.

And Then (1993-1995)

Internet Bandwidth

When I was your age, we were sharing a 64Kb bandwidth with the rest of the country. And we thought it was pretty fast.

World Wide Web

First of all, we had to explain what "www" meant almost everyone. We didn't have the luxury of just saying "hey, check the "some web address here" for more information" without explaining what is www, what is mosaic (or what is lynx), what is Winsock (Windows 3 wasn't being shipped with a TCP/IP protocol stack, you have to install the Winsock by yourself (www.sockets.com/winsock.htm).

If you think web browsing started with Internet Explorer, please have a look at the browser emulators at http://www.dejavu.org to get a feel of the browsers back in 10 years ago.

I can not really complain about METU having led the Web presence in Turkey. I remember receiving number of emails from book authors or internet magazines to get permission to include screen shots of METU Web pages as examples from .tr (Turkey) domain. For example, one of them was for the book titled "Teach Yourself Internet in a week(3)". See the following images:

I think METU web server was the first web server running from .tr domain(4). Not just out of Turkey, I think METU web server was one of the first web servers running on the Internet.

Look at the number of web servers running as of 12/93 from

Month # of Web sites % .com sites
6/93 130 1.5
12/93 623 4.6
6/94 2,738 13.5
12/94 10,022 18.3
6/95 23,500 31.3
1/96 100,000 50.0
6/96 (est) 230,000 68.0
1/97 (est) 650,000 62.6

According to this table, there were only 623 Web Servers in 12/1993 and the number only went to 2738 in June 1994. If my memory serves me right, METU Web Service (METU-CWIS) was operational at the end of the 1993. I did search the newsgroups and I've found the archive of following posting to soc.culture.turkish group dated Jan 11, 1994 (And the posting was actually forwarded from an earlier posting to another group).

Subject: METU CWIS
View: Complete Thread (2 articles)

Newsgroups: soc.culture.turkish
Date: 1994-01-11 11:43:16 PST

Ilgilenenlerin dikkatine:

Orta Dogu Teknik Universitesi, pilot olarak devreye soktugu
Internet uzerinden ulasilabilecek olan Campus Wide Information Servisi
(METU-CWIS) ile, 1994 yilinda asagida bir kisminin orneklendigi
konularda elektronik bilgi akisi saglayacaktir.

* ODTU'ye Iliskin
ODTU Kisisel Bilgi Rehberi
(isim, unvan, bolum, tel, e-mail vs.)
ODTU 1992-1994 Katalog Bilgileri
(Genel Bilgi, Akademik Takvim, Akademik birimler ve derslerin
tanitimi vs.)
ODTU Bu Hafta
(Akademik, Kulturel, Sosyal, Sportif etkinlikler)
Rektorluk Resmi Duyurular
* Turkiye'deki diger Servisler
Bilkent Gopher...
Turk Basinindan Haber Ozetleri

Bu Servislerden bazilari su anda kullanima acilmistir.
Sistem WWW (World Wide Web) uzerine oturtulmustur.
Mosaic(X, MS-Windows, Mac), Viola, Ms-Windows-Cello, www, lynx
isimli programlar, Internet uzerindeki populer www client (browser)
programlarindan bazilarinin isimleridir.
ODTU disindan bu listeye uye olanlar;
Lutfen, oncelikle bulundugunuz sistemde bunlardan
herhangi birinin bulunup bulunmadigini kontrol ediniz. Eger varsa
METU-CWIS a http://www.metu.edu.tr/ adresinden ulasabilirsiniz.
(ODTU kampusu bilgisayar aginda bu programlarin temin edilmesi ve
kullanimi ile ilgili rehber kisa bir sure sonra hazir olacaktir).

Bu programlardan birine erisiminiz yoksa

telnet info.metu.edu.t (or

daki genel kullanima acilmis lynx programini kullanabilirsiniz.
Eger baglandiginiz terminal lynx programi ile duzgun calismiyorsa
(IBM 3270 terminalleri gibi)

telnet info.metu.edu.tr

de kullanima acilmis olan line-mode www browser programini kullanabilirsiniz.
Her turlu soru ve yorumlarinizi isg@knidos.cc.metu.edu.tr adresine
e-mail ile yollayabilirsiniz.

Orta Dogu Teknik Universitesi
Bilgi Islem Dairesi
Enformatik Servisleri Grubu

Another reference to METU Web Service as the .tr domain example was in the first issue of Japanese Internet magazine by Impress Corporation, called "Internet" (http://internet.impress.co.jp). This magazine is still one of the leading Internet magazines in Japan and their first issue was published in October 1994. See the following images from their first issue.

In the same issue, another example screenshot was the Microsoft web Server (www.microsoft.com). See the image below. It seems like when the METU-CWIS was operational, Microsoft's main page was still under construction. And they put a note in the main page to mention its experimental status; "Welcome to the Microsoft's experimental WWW Internet Server…"

I've included the Microsoft example, since I think it is a good indication of the Web progress in the last decade. When you think about the vast amount of information they provide now at their web sites and how we just take it granted as if it has been always there, it is easy to forget the near past.

Ten years ago, I would not even try to explain the meaning of World Wide Web to a non-technical person, like my mother. But even she now sometimes sends me links from Turkish newspapers, instead of clipping them from the paper and sending using postal mail.

I've found the presentation slides from 1993-94, probably presented to an audience at METU or TUBITAK. Below is an example slide(5). It looks funny, doesn't it? But I think I had probably felt I needed something childishly simple (and fun) to describe what I was trying to explain (And of course I didn't have the luxury to go to internet and download variety of images to be used in presentations, in the old days, we had a very limited clip library J)

Do you want to know the number of web servers estimated today? According to the following sources, it is estimated over 40 million.

Super Computers

I'll make an exception here. In my time, we had one of the world's fastest computers in METU. See the rank 376 in http://www.top500.org/dlist/1994/11.

Downloading Music from Internet

Maybe not the hits from last week, But some classic music pieces were available from web museum web site http://www.ibiblio.org/wm. Probably due to the copyright issues, it doesn't carry the same extensive selection anymore.


Life was not that easy in the old days. First of all, to find something on the Internet, you had to use different tools; you had to use the "archie" or "alex" (to find a file), "wais" (to find some information), "whois" or "netfind" (to find someone). And there wasn't a one stop portal for all of these tools; you would find yourself connecting different servers until you got what you wanted.

Happy 10th Anniversary to CISN

I am sure that METUCC and METU would have years full of excitements for CISN to cover. And who knows, maybe a future Computer Center employee would be contacting Cengiz to be a guest in the 20th, 30th anniversaries of CISN.

Thanks for having me as a guest in this issue. I'm looking forward to visit METU and CC soon.

(1) For more on the history of Ethernet, see http://www.techfest.com/networking/lan/ethernet1.htm
(2) http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/U/Uuencode.html
(3) pp 22-24, Teach Yourself Internet in a week (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0672307359)
(4) To be fair, I remember bilkent.edu.tr was also very active running Internet services. Since there's no official record, I should probably say Metu and Bilkent servers had been the first two server set-up in Turkey.
(5) For the rest of the presentation go to http://cisn.metu.edu.tr/images/cisnozel/internet_servisleri_sunum1994.pdf


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