At the end of this month, it will be thirty years since the birth of IRC, one of the first chat systems with which many of us took our first steps on the Internet. It is an extremely simple communication protocol, based solely on text, and without many of the options that we see today in more advanced applications.
But despite its limitations, it had a special charm that the vast majority of today’s applications lack, which is why those of us who lived its golden age continue to remember very well of what it was like. So here are five reasons why many of us miss IRC.
But before I start I want to clarify that if we miss IRC it is not because it has disappeared, in fact it is still a widely used protocol in some areas, although it is not as popular as it was a few decades ago. In addition, users at that time had a slightly different mentality, and that is another of the things that are missed from that time.
Faster and easier communication
One of the things I miss the most about IRC was its simplicity and the speed at which it worked. Nowadays, any chat or communication application implements a large number of options and accessories, so that to be able to use them you need a fairly decent computer in power.
But IRC didn’t need big specs, and it worked almost flawlessly on virtually any computer. There could be some differences depending on the scripts you used, which served to give different aspects to the base application, but as happens today with GNU / Linux you had a large number of them at your disposal with different options and minimum requirements.
Despite that, from time to time I do you could have problems with lag due to the connection you have at home. In fact, there were certain attacks that would be unthinkable today, such as flood, in which a person with an ADSL connection began to write several lines per second until they saturated the other lines and caused their connections to fall. And those were the epic battles that you could sometimes find yourself in some chats.
You didn’t always need to sign up
Some IRC networks such as IRC Terra did not ask you to register or give any personal information to be able to use it. You simply wrote the name of the users you wanted to use and entered, which saved you a lot of time when you used it for the first time.
Some other IRC networks did offer you the possibility of register in exchange for reserving a username, although they also used to allow you to enter without registering. Of course, if you did, you exposed yourself to someone who entered before you on a certain day could occupy your name, something that was sometimes done on purpose to impersonate other people.
The emojis were your imagination
As we said at the beginning, IRC was a plain text chat, and in the best of cases you could find a script or application capable of translating some color codes. But otherwise there were neither emojis nor emoticons, so we all had to throw a little imagination when expressing ourselves.
The closest thing there was to emojis were a series of drawings that you could create based on ASCII code. But for each one you needed several lines of text, so if someone spoke while you were sharing one of those ASCII emoticons everything was going to ruin. There was also a series of gestures and ASCII drawings of a single line, which, although simpler, also required a dose of imagination.
In any case, it was still fun and instructive to rely solely on text. Everything was much less explicit than now, and you had to work a lot more to convey what you wanted to say. There were also no video conferencing or voice memos, so if you had to tell someone half your life you would have to do it by writing great paragraphs in private.
Feeling a pioneer in a new world
Back then being able to chat with other people over the Internet it was something relatively new. That made your parents and relatives look at you like a freak when you talked about your “friends” on the Internet, something that is now completely normalized, but that then lent itself to all kinds of myths and fears.
And precisely that fact of doing something that previous generations could not do created a certain atmosphere among those of us who used that application. We were pioneers, and whoever knew how to do the virguería on duty, no matter how simple it may seem now, had the admiration of all.
You were taking your first steps in programming
One of the fashions in the IRC world was to create customization scripts or layers on base applications such as the fireproof mIRC. These scripts could add complements such as automatic absence systems, automatic answers and possibilities such that when you played a song the rest would also skip the same song if the name of the music file matched.
And precisely thanks to those scripts I know a few people who They started in the world of programming precisely to be able to create your own. There were also cases in which a group of people got together to create web pages, causing many to begin to touch the world of HTML for the first time.
Users were more transparent
Possibly thanks to that feeling of being pioneers in a new world such as the Internet at that time, users we used to tend more to be ourselves and be more transparent. For each channel or group we used to be generally quite few, so it was easy to quickly create certain links with other users.
These links ended up materializing in the form of hangouts, in which people from different parts of the country stayed in a certain place to see themselves in motion for the first time. Keep in mind that at that time you had at most seen the odd photograph of those other people, and always many fewer than those you can see today with Instagram, so meeting each other was a little more special.
That transparent colleague ended up forming friendships that remain over time. Today, for example, I continue to maintain a relationship with some people I knew at that time. Now instead you can meet hundreds of thousands of people every day through various social networks, but the bonds that are established are usually not that strong like the ones I remember from that time when four cats populated the IRC.
It was the pre-trolls internet
Another of the characteristics that most differentiated the IRC era is that it was about the internet before the massive arrival of trolls. Conversations, for example, weren’t used to being constantly interrupted by people trying to offend to get attention, and we made jokes in a more respectful way.
But curiously, at that time when we used to be more respectful, it was also at least we were offended by the occasional troll that might appear. Nowadays, it seems that we all have too thin skin, so it is impossible to miss the days when on IRC you could blurt out some nonsense in brother-in-law mode from the bar counter without offending others. At most they could rebut or expel you if you were rude or repeated the jokes and offenses too much.
You felt important with little
When you were an op on a channel, you had the power, and you felt important … although it was also possible that it was a channel in which all regular users were given an @. Being an operator, something that was distinguished by the @ symbol before the nickname, was having the control to eject or silence other users. And it is that we felt important with little.
There were also cases in which these @ provoked fights and pitched battles with several expelled and banned. In those days, being the fastest in the west was knowing how to write the ejection command faster, or right-click to choose the option in your shift script. You could also program an automation so that just by typing / k the command to eject someone will autocomplete.
Although there were also bad things …
But we also can’t let nostalgia keep us from remembering some of the negative aspects of IRC. There was no way to verify that a person really was who they claimed to be to begin with, and something as simple as sending you a photo could expose your IP address, so it was wise to distrust anyone who seemed too friendly.
There weren’t as many security controls in place in Windows as there are now, and certainly not in IRC clients either. That made it common for some were dedicated to sending Trojans or some malware disguised as photographs or with the promise that the executable would do this or that. In fact, there were quite a few applications with which to infect other people’s computers and then make it possible to do things like opening your CD reader or directly turning off the computer.
And of course, for anyone who is used to today’s applications, the absolute lack of interactions beyond textual would also be negative. And if there were, like the aforementioned joint music playback system, in most cases you had to have the same mIRC script for it to work.
Image | C’est moi
In Genbeta | Hello, I am 14 years old and I have spent a week using IRC