Talkers programs provide many of the same features as IRC, and were invented
at almost the same time. However, IRC is different, an open Internet protocol
that runs networks of servers supporting thousands
of users at once, while Talkers are usually stand-alone proprietary systems that
single server and support up to
a few hundred users at most at any one time.
A summary of the most popular
Talkers is provided below:
- Cat Chat. The first of the three original talkers created at Warwick
University was named after its creator, Chris “Cat” Thompson, and,
interestingly, based on the LPMUD multi-user dungeon program. Thompson deployed his talker on one of the Warwick University
computers, and it typically supported up to 20 users.
House. The second talker was developed by Daniel
Stephens in February, 1991, and then deployed in a more powerful version on
the site orchid.warwick.ac.uk in October, 1991. The server was closed down on
February 5, 1992, when the police raided the university after some unknown sort
of illegal activity was discussed by one of the users on the talker. At its peak,
Cheeseplants House supported more than 100 people at the same time.
- Elsewhere. The third and most influential talker
was developed by Simon “Burble” Marsh in May, 1992, and called Elsewhere. This server was secretly deployed on
the site lily.warwick.ac.uk, and continued to function quietly, supporting a couple
dozen old hands from Cheeseplants, until it was discovered by system administrators
and shut down in November, 1992.
Elsewhere was then given a new home on the site loligo.cc.fsu.edu by
Michael “Footsteps” Wheaton,
and renamed Foothills. This new site in Florida provided a much faster response
for US users, where most of the Internet connected people were at that time,
so Foothills grew rapidly in popularity until the local system administrators
closed it down to conserve their network bandwidth. Wheaton then moved Foothills
to backus.mtsu.edu for
a while, and then Jeremy “Fox” Doran gave it a home back in the UK
(now kingston.ac.uk) until
the administrators shut it down, and finally Rod “Ecthelion” Morgan
gave the a home at marble.bu.edu.
This last site had a much faster Internet connection, and use of Foothills grew
soon exceeding 200 users at a time.
A number of Foothills superusers became unhappy with the way that Foothills was
being run, managed to get a copy of the closely guarded source code, and started
up a rival talker called Marble Madness on the site shadowfax.surr.ac.uk.
They developed the code further, and then released an even more powerful talker called
Surfers in November, 1993, originally hosted on the site muscle.rai.kcl.ac.uk provided
by Ian “Roosta” Dobbie. Many European users migrated from Foothills
to Surfers due to the faster response from that side of the Atlantic.
- Resort. In 1995, Neil “Athanasius” Soveran-Charley put the source code for the Surfers program on a public FTP site, which sparked development of several new talkers, including Vineyard, Underworld,
Forest, and eventually what became one of the most popular – Resort.
- Other Talkers. Many other talkers have also been developed over the years, including AMNUTS, EW-TOO, IFORMS, NUTS, OOT, JOOT, and Playground Plus.
following resources provide more information on Talkers: