Re: Gopher, trapped in amber

Kragen Sitaker (
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 18:31:39 -0500 (EST)

On Tue, 12 Jan 1999, Robert S. Thau wrote:
> use out of your Gopher client. And Mosaic, following the lead of the
> CERN libWWW, did not support Gopher+ at all. Which, in turn, acted to
> seriously impede the adoption of Gopher+, as Mosaic quickly acquired
> many, many users who it became politically difficult to lock out.

I'm curious why Gopher+ support was never added to libWWW. Surely it
would have been trivial for the UMN people to write a libWWW patch,
wouldn't it?

> Jim Whitehead writes:
> > For example, the Jughead Gopher crawler, written in 1993, as a Gopher space
> > administrative aid -- presaging Roy's MoMspider.
> Is that what Jughead was? I thought that it was some kind of
> search-engine thing (a better version of Veronica, which was the
> Archie-style Gopher search engine), but given my distance from Gopher
> I could easily be wrong.

I spent a few tens or hundreds of hours in 1992 and 1993 navigating
gopherspace. IIRC, Jughead was the Gopher version of that ubiquitous
"search this website" box -- a method to allow gopher users to search
the set of documents available at a particular website.

Veronica was the multi-site indexer. I don't know if it spidered like
MoMspider or just had a list of gopher sites to index.

BTW, one of the best gopher sites on the net is
gopher://, which is still alive and kicking. (I
think they might even still be updating it.) I visited it the other
day when I wanted to quote from the Constitution -- gopherspace is
considerably easier and quicker to navigate than Webspace.

The latest Netcraft Server Survey lists fewer than a hundred sites
running GN, though.

gopherd's licensing is a little restrictive, IIRC -- thus GN.

> If you're interested in looking at some of the other fish in the pond
> at the time the web piranhas took over, a few interesting things to
> look at would be:
> *) WAIS, a Z39.50 variant.

I think it's the other way around. The protocol and software were
originally called WAIS; Z39.50 was the official (ANSI?) standard; then
the sponsors of WAIS started asserting their trademark, so people
started calling WAIS Z39.50.

> *) Prospero, whose sponsor (Clifford Neuman) was trying very
> hard to make it the One True Protocol for net information access.
> See

Thanks for the ref. I wanna make a OTP too. :)

I believe archie has been based on Prospero since around 1993 or 1992.

> WAIS is the only one of these which ever saw in really widespread use,
> though both the other two had a lot of political push behind them.

So did OSI. :)

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
Computers are the tools of the devil. It is as simple as that. There is no
monotheism strong enough that it cannot be shaken by Unix or any Microsoft
product. The devil is real. He lives inside C programs. --