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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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  • I hope whoever bought it will use the domain for something befitting its history... But I'm prepared to be disappointed.

    • 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
      • by mcvos ( 645701 )

        Where are my mod points today? You make a very good point about the security risks involved in such a domain transfer. How many services use email verification? How many people are aware of all the services they subscribed to over the years? And even if they are, will they have time to track them all down and change all email addresses within one month?

        One month is really not enough notification for something this invasive. Of course you can't really forbid someone to sell a domain name they own, but when y

      • let's just hope they don't use it for ill, intentionally or otherwise.

        No, that would be

    • by Nursie ( 632944 )

      "You could Own this domain! Contact us for pricing!"

      "Related searches for 'Illuminati Online' "

      "Cheap Flights! Click here!"

      • My first thought too. Seriously though, my bet is either a video game dev, tech company, or a movie studio - leaning towards the former. 2 letter domains are expensive, particularly ones with lots of history - this has to be someone with deep pockets and some reason to want the domain. I wouldn't be surprised to see something like "Illuminati Online, the MMORPG of conspiracy and intrigue... coming soon, from Activision"
        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's aliens from Jupiter, and they're not interested in the interplanetary internet [] finally getting around to establishing .ju or waiting for the British Indian Ocean Territory to relinquish .io

        • by olden ( 772043 )

          My bet would be a company into something like Flash-based SANs, with marketing guys not interested in the original meaning of but betting that such a catchy domain name will convince people they really care about IOPS, and/or to try and be perceived as the next big player in that field.
          We'll see early enough anyway -- too soon I'm sure for everyone using on today, sadly.

        • Really? I figured with a name like "" it would be the perfect name for a tech company selling SANs, SSDs, Fibre Channel, etc. Hell the ad writes itself "For all your high performance data needs, just think IO!"
    • Re:Ah well. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @08:00AM (#36306728) Homepage

      I'm posting Anon so my brothers will not know it was me that let the secret out. You see Steve Jackson stole the domain from us Masons years ago. We were setting it up for secret online meetings and to hold the secret Mason Wiki for Master Mason access to find out what other Worshipful Masters were up to and to see live camera feeds of the holy grail as it toured the world as well as the other lesser artifacts like water from the fountain of youth, and the secret film of Kennedy being kidnapped by our secret mason strike squad and replaced with a life like dummy. etc...

      WE now have it back once again! Our power is now complete! Unite my brothers!

      I am glad to let the secret out, They would kill me if I posted this under my real account and traced it back to me!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @03:29AM (#36305778)

    Phone numbers (like 867-5309), IO.Com, Chat account numbers (like IRC, Skype, ICQ), Slashdot uid's; they all have something in common:

    When you register something, you have no control over it but to administer it for a short while in the influence of the registrar perview.

    All these registration systems build a false sense of commerce and security.

    Tor, Meshnet, and Peer-to-peer networks are hated because they are devoid of the impulses that cause a registration to be necessary: and those are the limiting of your activities through regulation.

    • Phone numbers (like 867-5309), IO.Com, Chat account numbers (like IRC, Skype, ICQ), Slashdot uid's; they all have something in common: jurisdiction.

      When you register something, you have no control over it but to administer it for a short while in the influence of the registrar perview.

      All these registration systems build a false sense of commerce and security.

      Tor, Meshnet, and Peer-to-peer networks are hated because they are devoid of the impulses that cause a registration to be necessary: and those are the limiting of your activities through regulation.

      Thus says the person registered with the most famous of Slashdot handles.

      It's lonely in no-where land... You can see the world but no one can see you. If anyone wanted to send you some data that you didn't first request, no one would know where to send it. I'd PM you on IRC, but you've no handle to speak of. I'd pick up the phone and ring you up from time to time, but you're unlisted. I'd invite you to my private server, but you've no email address to receive it. I'd ask around if anyone has heard h

  • by RebelWithoutAClue ( 578771 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @03:32AM (#36305784) Homepage
    Looks like /. managed to take it down early. Good Job everyone!
  • I joined just before the Operation Sundevil raid, and remember it fondly. Online roleplaying, beta testing SJ Games products, and brainstorming new games were awesome fun for a 20-something geek with too much free time on his hands. I even got a few of my ideas published in the Hacker and GURPS Illuminati products, and a free copy of GURPS Magic Items just for providing one of the staff with the lyrics to Monty Python's Dead Philosopher song.

    Once the web emerged, and I got an ISP with NNTP service, a two-

  • All is well.
  • by zill ( 1690130 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @04:08AM (#36305914)

    Secret Service raid...Illuminati...led to the creation of the EFF

    I knew it! The FOSS movement was a Freemason conspiracy to establish a New World Order through software infiltration. First they took over the server OS market, now they are aiming for the desktop market shares, after that, the entire world!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Wrong illumni, you want aluminaughty; Just follow the metallic crinkling sound -- down the hall, too the left, first door into your own mind.
  • That's what happens when you finally *do* begin to see the fnords. A pity about the relatively short notice, too.
  • It was on D-Day FRANCE was freed from the tyranny of the English and went on their way to develop even stinkier cheeses and more costlier wines.

  • When in middle school, I loved Car Wars. Shame about the phone bill to Austin.

    So when did SJGames relinquish control of

  • Of course, I'm familiar with the EFF, but I happened to forget what it stands for.

    Anybody know offhand (without cheating [])?

    Electronic Freedom Fighters?
    Electronic Frontier of Freedom?

  • 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.


    • 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.)

      Lies! My phone uses a dual core processor and 256MB of RAM and still can't reliably open my contacts list. I call shenanigans.

      Sadly the shenanigans are on us these days. Bloated software indeed. 100 users on a Pentium with 32MB of RAM says it all. We have gone backwards since those days.

      • by mibus ( 26291 )

        My phone uses a dual core processor and 256MB of RAM and still can't reliably open my contacts list.

        We have gone backwards since those days.

        Ah, you need to turn the GUI on your phone off and start using it in 80x24 text-mode. I did that with mine, lightning fast now!

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      I run a 400mhz Sparc, with 256Mb ram and 7gb of disk space... It quite happily handles 50+ users even today, running a mix of irc sessions, esniper, text based mail clients (mutt/pine) and some development.

      That said if people are actually interested in a shell service like then i'm sure we could operate something similar.... Most shell accounts commercially available these days seem to almost exclusively cater to script kiddies on IRC just wanting to run large numbers of eggdrop bots...

      • by adolf ( 21054 )

        Eggdrop seemed to be unofficially frowned-upon at, but they never really seemed to do much about it (or anything else) unless it was abusive or generated complaints: I know a guy who had set up a crontab to keep eggdrop reasonably awake, and as far as I recall he kept that bot alive for years at $10/month. But that was one bot, on a rather non-contested channel, with a rather cool ISP.

        Myself, I used to keep screen sessions active for days, weeks, or months, running ircii, pine, tin, and a bash shel

  • Identity Recall (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimm ( 5532 ) <jimm@io . c om> 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 ledow ( 319597 )

      Maybe if you got off your backside and bought a $1 domain that you actually OWN (or at least have a guaranteed annual right to) rather than having (are you an international corporation?) you wouldn't have that problem.

      Seriously, my MOTHER has her own domain name with infinite aliases and forwarding to a proper email account and has had for years and despite several changes in ISP, host and moving onto webmail still has the same address and has never had to inform people of the change. You could hav

      • Oh, I can completely relate to how you feel. Thing is, if you're not in IT, you don't feel that way and sometimes they can't even comprehend that an email address wouldn't be from one of the free or ISP ones.

        I have a couple of domains myself, and one is owned by my dad. That domain name is, because our family name is Willekens and we live in Luxembourg. It used to be a pretty expensive and exclusive TLD. Obviously, we all have our and you'd expect people to easily und

        • "Obviously, we all have our and you'd expect people to easily understand that. Well, most non-IT people simply don't get it. They think you're pulling their leg because that's an email address that "can't be"."

          As a vanity domain holder myself I experience this exact same problem. Many non-IT people positively brain lock when I tell them my email is

          Sorry I don't have any earth shattering insight; just thought I'd share that your experience isn't unique.

      • by jimm ( 5532 )

        Yes, and I've done exactly this. That doesn't ease the discomfort at losing an email address I've had for around 17 years, or change the fact that Google knows me best by that email address, as do many open source projects, mailing lists, and real live people.

  • iO TV offers over 120 HD channels, including E! HD, Cartoon Network HD, fuse HD and more! Watch HD movies at no extra charge and hundreds of Free On Demand choices. Best of all, HD is free with iO TV!

    Too soon?

  • I bet Cablevision bought it so they can have another place to play their IO digital cable rap song.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 wa

  • My first thought was Google (it would fit with their annual conference of that name and they have cash to play with), but shutting down services like that when they take over isn't their style.

    There is a TV provider going by that name, it could also be them.

    Depending on how much it went for it could just be prospectors hoping to make something out of the two-letter .com name before the new bubble bursts, of course.
  • ahh... to go into the back room and power cycle modems before we got the AS53xx's. custom php ticket server, direct NNTP access w/ a mirror of... well, you know.. on your catalog of... zip drives. unmanaged 3com switches. microwave fries. unlimited cokes. an unauthorized upgrade to the netapp filer from a p90 to a p120 that somehow actually worked by just dropping in the new proc and flipping a jumper.... sendmail recipes from hell. procmailrc's all over the place. redhat vs slackware was alive and wel

    • by mrbill ( 4993 )
      Been there, done that. I almost went to work with Jher @ IO after I left Texas.Net, but ended up at OnRamp.
      Sitting up on the 12th floor of 7th and Brazos for Y2K, listening to my police scanner and watching the crazyness down on 6th,
      chatting with colleagues across town and across the country on IRC as we all did the same thing - waiting for a problem that
      "never came" because we'd all worked to make sure it didn't happen.
      • Wow, looks like we had a chat 10/6/2001 about IO's refusal to implement Front Page Extensions:

        You said:
        > Did you ever bother to *check*? I cant imagine that a single "no" to a
        > customer would result in a "harsh reprimand". IO certainly didn't seem like
        > that kind of a place when I almost went to work for them in mid-'98
        > (unfortunately, they wanted me to take a pay *cut* from where I was already
        > putting in 80 hour weeks).

        Later in the email, I said "You may be amused to hear tha
    • Bah, that was at the *new* office... I was employee #1 there (the first guy who didn't have a stake in the company) - installing BSDi, finally getting a terminal server instead of a big multi-serial-port card... twist-tying modems to pegboard... setting up the Metaverse...,, ... gopher and archie and ftp... signup scripts cobbled together in perl. EFF-Austin and Ho-Ho Con... the world and the internet were very different places back then.

      • Some of your security holes remained as late as 2002. I used to telnet to, log in as guest, where lynx was provided as the shell to access legacy customer self-maintenance and create new accounts, type "g ." and drop right down to the filesystem! Since directory permissions under /home were all over the map, I could enter and browse over half of the user's home folders, including downloading files locally. Someone fixed this after IO was moved to PrismNet. I worked at IO from 2000-2001, and presented
  • fnord fnord fnord. Hey! Wait! Don't pick up the ph{#`%${%&`+'${`%&NO CARRIER
  • My shell accounts! Gone!

    And that bastard Jackson still owes me money.

  • If you have an shell account, we would like to gift you a lifetime free [] account for the purposes of backing up, and parking, the contents of that shell account.

    I have never had an shell, but between rsync and tar+gpg+ftp you should be able to quickly and easily dump the contents of your shell to an account.

    Just email and we'll set this up for you. FWIW, this is a continuation of our efforts to support the work being done by Jason Scott [], the "Archive Team []" an

  • Unless the buyer is Microsoft (embrace, extend, extinguish) and even then it doesn't make sense. Why purchase something of value only to discard what is valuable about it? Purchasing and then removing all users and services is like purchasing a bag of gold, and discarding the gold for the worthless bag. The very value of the site is the users and services!
  • This happened to me three times, all three while I was job hunting. First shut down with two weeks notice, when I had around 150 resumes out there with that address. A year or so later the local ISP that I had signed up with went belly up overnight, leaving another 100 or so resumes stranded without an email address. Finally Qwest/USWest shut down their mail servers, giving users just two weeks to switch to MSN (at 50% higher price) where they would ever-so-graciously forward your mail for
  • I almost went to work for Ken, back around 1996. During the talks, I got set up with a free account. I had it for YEARS before someone (a while after they sold it to PrismNet) went through the old accounts and such. They found me, asked me if I wanted to become a paying customer, and I figured, what the heck, shell access, short email address, web hosting, cheap.

    I had that account until December of 2010, when I decided I'd migrated all the folks that mattered to my newer email address and I wasn't getting

  • So yea, I was initiated to the internet via And I too used OpenVMS Vax at school before I even knew what the "Open" part even meant. I just wish I had stayed CLI like the rest of you geeks. I struggle to even configure a .profile anymore and regular expressions are not regular to me at all. One thing I do remember that seemed very much a part of the secret-code-ring-key exciting mystery thing of it at the time was the "dot plan" [.pln ] Remeber those ? Everybody had one in the root of thier public a
  • I have had my account for almost 17 years. I am...not really sure what to do. I'm having a digital identity crisis. I have my email archived from 1995. I have...hundreds of emails from various internet services in my "accounts" folder.

    I guess I'm going to have to spend the next month contacting them all, one by one.


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