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Foothills (talker)

Foothills, originally called Elsewhere is the 3rd ever internet talker and was created using Elsewhere code, written by Simon Burble Marsh from University of Warwick and was based on the first ever internet talker, Cat Chat by Chris Thomson. The talker was renamed "Foothills" in honour of Michael Footsteps Wheaton from Florida State University who gave the talker a new home after it was booted from its initial home at University of Warwick, where it was opened in May 1992. It is currently the 4th most popular ew-too talker in the world with 2558 connections per day (as at November 2005). It is currently administrated and coded by Jonathan. It currently averages about 10-15 users on at a time.

Foothills was the first ever talker to have 500 users on at once, and is probably the 3rd most popular talker of all time, behind Surfers and Resort.


Cat Chat

Cat Chat was created by Chris Cat Thompson, who was a university student at University of Warwick in England, as LPmud but without any of the monsters or the game element. It commonly had about 20 users on it at a time. It used the University's network to the internet via JANET (Joint Academic NETwork), which only connected to a sample of other Universities, and was never connected to the entire internet. It was shut down in February 1991 out of fears that the "JANET police", i.e. representatives of the Joint Academic NETwork might have found out about the talker and Cat might be prosecuted for stealing bandwidth and misusing the university's computer systems.

After it was closed, Daniel Cheeseplant Stephens, a user of the talker, was inspired to create his own talker, Cheesehouse in honour of Cat Chat, and thus talkers were born.


Cheesehouse was opened on 8 February 1991, using the same ports that were previously used by Cat Chat, and indeed a lot of the users to the talker were unaware that it was an entirely different talker. Whilst Cat Chat had been down for several months, a few University of Warwick students tried out the old port number just in case, and thus the "refuges" from Cat Chat formed the basis of the early user numbers.

Cheesehouse was initially only opened whenever Cheeseplant was physically in the computer laboratories, however that was several hours per day. But as time went on and the code was developed and University of Warwick was opened up to the internet in all of its glory, Cheeseplant made the decision to occasionally leave the Cheesehouse talker open when he was not in the computer laboratories.

On 4 February 1992, the University of Warwick administrators, under the direction of the Director of Computing, closed Cheesehouse, removed access to the network port, and placed a banner message indicating that it had been withdrawn. Cheeseplant also received a threatening e-mail from Mark Brady, a system administrator from UMIST, requesting for personal information about the people who used Cheesehouse, as well as access to logs of what they said.

Cheeseplant was unable to respond to these requests, primarily because he had never logged any conversations, and as a result received a number of other threatening e-mails from Mark Brady, suggesting that the talker was a "hotbed of hacker activity".

On 6 February 1992, Cheeseplant was suspended from the University of Warwick computer system, as penalty for operating the Cheesehouse talker on their network, and stealing their computer resources. Cheeseplant met with the administrators of the University of Warwick computer services, and explained his case, which was successful in that he managed to get his computer account back. However, he would never again open his talker.


Elsewhere, as it was originally called, was created as a kind of offshoot from Cheesehouse, and, like Cat Chat and Cheesehouse before it, was written by a university student at University of Warwick, Simon Burble Marsh, and hosted there, with its original site name being 2010, thus making University of Warwick known as "the home of talkers".

The talker existed at University of Warwick for 6 months, hidden from administrators due to its small size and low bandwidth, rarely having more than 20 users on at a time.

In November 1992, system administrators from University of Warwick discovered Elsewhere, as they had similarly discovered Cheesehouse in February 1992, and they shut Elsewhere down.

It almost died then and there, if not for one of its users, Michael Footsteps Wheaton. Footsteps provided Elsewhere with a new site in Florida, 2010. In acknowledgement of his efforts, Elsewhere was renamed Foothills, a name that it carries to this day.

Move from England to USA

With Foothills, as it was now called, hosted in USA, and a much faster connection speed, American users had a much faster connection, without the massive trans-atlantic lag, and the popularity of the talker, especially to users in America, increased exponentially, and before long it had as many users as Cheesehouse had had while at University of Warwick a year earlier.

Footsteps left Florida State University soon after the talker was first hosted there, and, whilst its systems administrator initially tolerated it, early in 1993 he decided to boot the talker.

Foothills' 3rd home

Footsteps gave Foothills a 3rd home, at 2010, however everyone knew that it would be for a short time only, as the University would eventually find it and shut it down.

Foothills' 4th home

Foothills moved to its 4th home at 2010, thanks to another of its users, Jeremy Fox Doran, who hosted it at Kingston University. However, this meant that the talker was back in the United Kingdom and hence its lag was again terrible for American users, and its popularity suffered because of it. Eventually, however, for the 3rd time in its history, the system administrators blocked the talker from operating.

Foothills' 5th home

Another user, Rod Ecthelion Morgan found Foothills another home, at 2010. This was the site of largest growth for Foothills, as it had a very good connection, and the user base quickly grow to have over 200 users on at a time on a regular basis.

Controversy - stealing the code to create Marble Madness

A few of the superusers of Foothills became disenchanted with the way that Foothills was being run and stole a copy of the code to create their own talker, calling it Marble Madness, on 2010, named Marble Madness to reflect the super users' anger at the way that Foothills was being run on 2010. Marble Madness was never developed extensively while at 2010, but by November 1993 it was fully developed, when it was renamed Surfers and hosted on 4242 thanks to Ian Roosta Dobbie.

After Surfers was made public, there was a shift, European users started to use Surfers whilst American users continued to use Foothills by preference. Both talkers boomed, Foothills remaining the busier always, due to it being the oldest, and first thought-of, and also having the quicker link for the more numerous American users.

Public release of Elsewhere code

After 2 1/2 years of relative secrecy, Neil Althanasius Soveran-Charley placed the source code for Surfers on an FTP site, and soon Elsewhere-based talkers were everywhere.


Surfers, originally called Marble Madness, was created using ew-too code in 1994 and was the first internet talker to have 1,000 users logged on at the same time, and is the most popular talker of all time. It is currently run by Demi, Sanman, Mike and Furry. Its current coder is Saraphale. It is currently (November 2005) the most popular talker in the world with 4,819 connections per day.

It is often closed to new connections due to its high popularity, and a user must e-mail the administrator in order to log in for the first time.

The talker is run on on port 4242, probably in reference to The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Its official advertisement is of being "A talker inhabited by a group of lazy long-haired, tanned layabouts who bum around on the beach all day desperately trying not to do any work."

It is regarded as important to the history of ewtoo, and hence to the history of talkers, and is the primary focus of LiveJournal's spod community


Resort is regarded by some as the most popular internet talker of all time, and the first to use Elsewhere Too or ew-too code, which would later become open source and the first popular code base. Resort was created in 1993 by Adam J. Foxson. It competes with Surfers for the title of most popular talker in the world, and as of November 2005 was a close 2nd [1] with 4,354 connections per day as compared to Surfers with 4,819. It has on average about 20-40 users online at any time [2]. Its coders are currently James Hawtin, Daniel Stephens, and David Thompson. [3]

See also

External links

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