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Electronic Frontier Foundation Role Playing (Games) The Internet Games News Your Rights Online

A Piece of Internet History Lost: Sold, Services To Shut Down 123

An anonymous reader writes "The former Illuminati Online domain,, has been sold, and all existing customers will lose all services associated with the domain. A 1990 Secret Service raid on Steve Jackson Games, then owner of the Illuminati Online BBS and later the domain led to the creation of the EFF and was an important milestone in the fight for online rights. While the domain has been sold in the past, the services offered to customers always remained unchanged. However, this most recent sale, to an unnamed party, will result in all services being dropped on July 1, and people will lose email addresses, web pages, and shell accounts that many have had for 15+ years." Bad news for me — was my first real ISP, and I was hoping to see if I could revive the account.
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A Piece of Internet History Lost: Sold, Services To Shut Down

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  • Re:Ah well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis350 ( 772791 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @03:24AM (#36305748)
    let's just hope they don't use it for ill, intentionally or otherwise. Think about it, among other things whoever owns that domain now will be able to intercept all mail to accounts, and with the quickness and suddenness of the transfer not everyone's who uses those addresses is going to be able to completely transition off them before the transfer happens
  • Re:Ah well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @04:28AM (#36305970)

    The security issue here is identity theft. If you have access to someone's email account, you can pretend to be him. In this case, the new owner of the domain doesn't have access to old mail, but they do have access to new mail sent to those accounts. Any verification mail sent to those accounts will end up in the hands of the new owner, without the original user of that email account ever knowing.

  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @05:51AM (#36306220) Journal

    I remember in my BBS days reading about the SJ Games raid by the Secret Service.

    And as soon as I discovered local internet access (mostly through a borrowed account on a VAX at a local school), I started giving SJG's $10/month for a shell account.

    But it wasn't just a shell: It was a FreeBSD shell, back when Linux was still a toy, and it had an infallible NetApps backend with snapshots for ~ (which is still rare, even in this day of positively cheap disk storage). It was access to a good news spool, when Usenet was still Usenet. It was a short email address, when such things weren't so special. It was an Apache web server, with a few megabytes of disk quota and plenty of slack if you needed more from time to time. AAnd a personalized anonymous FTP server. And a proper dev environment for building your own software from source.

    All on a fast T1. (Remember when a T1 was fast, and a Pentium-based FreeBSD box with 32 or 64MB of RAM could host more than 100 concurrent interactive users? You yungin's will say it's impossible, but it worked well.)

    And the operators and managers seemed to actually give a shit about their users' needs. There was a sense of community between the users and the folks running the show that I've never seen elsewhere.

    Things were different back then. The web was mostly text, Gopher still was useful, I never minded using Lynx as a browser, and the world's former-best music/discography site ( had an extremely functional and fast interface using...telnet.

    Back them, if you wanted new dirt on the latest Linux happenings, you'd look at Matt Welsh's page, as there just weren't any others that were worth keeping up with.

    I remember Steve Jackson himself writing on's news (which was more of a .plan than a modern blog) about how he'd given every single desktop in his company proper Internet access, and how he (rightly!) suspected that his was one of the first companies to do so.

    Eventually, my account was banished due to a copyright complaint from an outside party. But by then I'd already built my own *nix boxen, and a more proper local ISP than the 9600bps VAX/VMS beast had cropped up that was both worthwhile and was feeding me dual-channel ISDN as a favor, so I never bothered to fight the copyright complaint.

    But I still remember the IP address for (their first, and primary shell server) from way back when: And I still ping "" when troubleshooting network connectivity: It's a fast and easy way to see that DNS works and that packets are making their way to Texas and back.

    But I guess that's gone now, too.


  • Identity Recall (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimm ( 5532 ) <> on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @07:42AM (#36306636) Homepage

    I've been since 1994 or so --- maybe a year or two earlier than that. You know what I'm worried about most? All those open source projects, emails, and other digital resources that point to are going to be pointing nowhere in a month. It feels like my online identity is being stolen. Except it's not being stolen, of course --- merely recalled. was bought by years ago. PrismNet changed hands a few times. The last guy who sold it to the current owner (for $20) didn't sell the domain. He kept it but let them use it---until July 1, 2011.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @09:12AM (#36307204)

    While it is certainly understandable that the owner of a valuable 2 letter domain that is currently hosting only a handful of customers would want to sell it, owners Richards & Richards have done so in a very shitty way. Only one month's notice, and absolutely no word from them at all to the customers.

    "Screw you, users. We don't care how long you've been around, and we don't care how hard it will be for you to adjust to losing an email address that you've had since 1993. We want our $$$ and we want it now. FOAD by July 1 plz thx."

    Absolutely shitty behavior.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham