I left university in 1994, which in those days meant losing the email address I’d used for three years. Still, ‘email@example.com’ was never very catchy. For a while I managed to hang on to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, which was much cooler – heck, it was on a supercomputer! – but I needed ‘net access so I could Telnet into it and use pine.
There weren’t any internet cafés back then, but I did have Quern, a charming little PowerBook 165. Greyscale screen, undersized keyboard, oversized trackball, and a 33MHz 68030. Banzai! I found a cheap(ish) modem for it, and I signed up with Demon Internet, one of the fledgling dial-up internet service providers around at the time.
The service was initially great, then mostly terrible: Demon were one of the first ISPs to hit scaling problems, and they had horrible growing pains. For the most part, however, they were communicative. Once I’d seen a few ‘flavour of the month’ ISPs hit similar problems a few months later, I elected to stick with Demon since, on average, they were OK. Besides, the demon.local newsgroup was a hoot.
One advantage of Demon was getting a proper subdomain all to my lonesome. Rather than email@example.com, with Demon one was firstname.lastname@example.org, which presented much more flexibility, but also a challenge. What would I use as my account name? I ended up using the name of the PowerBook, Quern. Hence: email@example.com.
At length the PowerBook died, and was eventually replaced. Several times. But the Demon account soldiered on, as a backup email address, an emergency dial-up account, and for a neat little fax-to-email gateway they offered. I used it from at least four different Macs, and from my Newton.
By the time Quern IV came along, however, the account was a bit pointless. WiFi still isn’t pervasive in the UK, but Bluetooth dial-up over mobile phones is now less hassle than finding a phone socket and remembering to pack a cable. I never did bother setting up Quern IV to talk to Demon directly. I completely forgot about it instead.
Which was a bit stupid of me, so last week I cancelled my Demon account entirely. www.quern.demon.co.uk: gone. The old Pondlife Newton user group site: gone. My last connection to my old email address: gone.
I’m a bit sad about this. It’s a bizarre coincidence that Quern IV should have chosen the same week to effectively die, too.