Gopher: A Walk Into a Forgotten Internet Land

Nowadays, when people talk about the Internet what they actually mean is the World Wide Web (WWW). All websites, all videos, and photographs can be searched from the World Wide Web. You connect to the Internet, which is connected to different servers according to your request via your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Then you open your web browser and type in an HTTP request to get to a website. But, there can be another browser using a different kind of protocol that can access the same information for you. Let’s talk about that.

What is gopher?

Just like HTTP, Gopher is a protocol that lets you access information from different servers or computers. Files were accessed using the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) even before it came into existence.

Who invented gopher?

It was invented by Mark P. McCahill and his team in 1991 around the same time the World Wide Web came into existence.

Where is gopher now?

There are still some servers up and running. Some of the browsers still support gopher sites and some can use an extension. For example, in Firefox you can download OverbiteWX.

How gopher is different?

The Blog or short for Weblogs is called Phlog or Rlog in Gopherspace¬†and the sites are usually called Gopher holes. These sites are usually text-based, there are no graphics involved. It does support some image formats and GIFs but you won’t find any inline images. There are a lot of servers you can connect to and read some cool stuff. There are a lot of Phlogs still active there. A list can be found here: gopher://sdf.org (Gopher link).

a phlog in gopher
Phlog: A term coined by Jeff Woodall on April 22, 2003 in his own phlog!

The use of Gopher is not much these days, but it’s really fun to surf in Gopherspace.

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