[PLAQUE]: BIX - Byte Information Exchange [LONG]

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Kevin J. Cheek

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Sep 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/30/00
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The Man in the Hard Hat reads the letter in his hand, then sets it
down on the bar, dejected. He tosses a new dollar coin into the cigar
box, orders a soft drink, then steps to the chalk line.

"To BIX," he says. He downs the soft drink, and hold the empty glass
in his hand.

"Some of you probably remember BYTE magazine, back when it was a real
paper magazine instead of the virtual whatzit it is today. You could
find adds for the magazine's very own online service, called BIX, for
Byte Information Exchange.

"BIX was one of the first online services. This was in the days when a
2.4 Kb modem was considered top of the line. You could dial BIX
direct, or, if you were lucky, long onto a local network and connect.
Once online, you found yourself in a fascinating world of respected
authors, professionals from all walks of life, especially the computer
industry. There were downloads available nowhere else. Hardware and
software vendors had a presence on BIX. BIX rocked.

"BIX was like alt.callahans on steroids. No, that's not quite right.
BIX was like alt.callahans run through a cyborg shop. You could talk
to people there, no matter how many degrees they held, no matter how
high their IQ. On BIX I chatted with the late G.H. Stine, met Jerry
Pournelle, rubbed elbows with Rick Cook, talked with Jim Baen and many
others.

"BIX became part of McGraw-Hill when they bought _BYTE_, then was sold
to one Rupert Murdoch. Maybe this was when it was placed under the
Delphi umbrella, and instantly treated like a ghetto. But beginning a
few years ago, under the dubious management of Delphi, BIX ceased
advertisement and press releases. Then it ceased signing new members,
and began whittling down services. Vendors left. Members followed.
Loyal staff tried to put the best face on the situation, but the fact
is BIX was allowed to wither and die. The sale to Prospero seemed to
make things worse, though BIX was headed down the tubes a long time
ago.

"In August, Delphi notified it's premium service subscribers that as
of November 1, 2000, it would no support e-mail, web space, and what
it's members referred to as "text-side" services. It would no longer
charge for these premium services, but if and when it breaks, that's
it. Since Delphi text-side is linked with BIX, we figured that was the
end. We started packing our bags.

"Yesterday we finally got the letter, from Delphi president Rusty
Williams himself. BIX is to be unsupported as of November 1, 2000. I
suppose we should feel honored that they gave us notification: the way
Delphi treated BIX, we mostly figured that one day we'd try to log in,
and BIX would be dead. More or less it's a boilerplate message just
about identical with the one sent to Delphi premium subscribers.

"So BIX is to die a needless death. BIX could have been a gold mine
for Delphi, but they couldn't - or wouldn't - see it. I firmly believe
that one day BIX will be studied in business schools as a case of how
not to run an online business.

"Some BIXen, as we call ourselves, wonder where we will go. We are the
virtual dispossessed, cybernetic nomads on the cusp of searching for a
niche for ourselves. I once proposed a gathering place on what's left
of Delphi, but I think we'd be about as appreciated there as ants at a
picnic. A few, like me, will likely take to the newsgroups. Others
probably will start their own web-based forums. Some already have. But
it won't be like the old days, with everyone under one roof.

"So here's to BIX. I can think of nothing more fitting to mark your
passing than a plaque at Tyco Crater.

And with that, the Man in the Hard Hat throws his glass into the
fireplace.

<<<<<<<< CRASH! >>>>>>>>

- Kevin J. Cheek
http://planttel.net/~kevinc

D.J.

unread,
Sep 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/30/00
to

Kevin J. Cheek wrote:
[]"So BIX is to die a needless death. BIX could have been a gold mine

[]for Delphi, but they couldn't - or wouldn't - see it. I firmly believe
[]that one day BIX will be studied in business schools as a case of how
[]not to run an online business.

>>>Crash !!!<<<

D.J.
--
djim55 at tyhe datasync dot com. Disclaimer: Standard.
My Web pages Updated: September 25, 2000:
http://www.crosswinds.net/~djim51/
Registered Linux user#185746

Alan Ralph

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Oct 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM10/3/00
to
On Sat, 30 Sep 2000 18:11:25 GMT, Kevin J. Cheek wrote:
>The Man in the Hard Hat reads the letter in his hand, then sets it
>down on the bar, dejected. He tosses a new dollar coin into the cigar
>box, orders a soft drink, then steps to the chalk line.
>
>"To BIX," he says. He downs the soft drink, and hold the empty glass
>in his hand.

MonTemplar's ears prick up at the invocation of one of the Old Places,
and turns to hear what Kevin has to say...

>"Some of you probably remember BYTE magazine, back when it was a real
>paper magazine instead of the virtual whatzit it is today. You could
>find adds for the magazine's very own online service, called BIX, for
>Byte Information Exchange.

MonTemplar remembers both vividly - the magazine and the ads for BIX.
Being on the other side of the Atlantic, he's never been to BIX, but
used to read BYTE magazine fairly regularly.

"I was mightily pissed off when I found out that BYTE magazine was
being wound up. Reading things like 'Dr Dobbs Journal' and
'Boardwatch' makes up for some of the loss, but not all."

>"BIX was one of the first online services. This was in the days when a
>2.4 Kb modem was considered top of the line. You could dial BIX
>direct, or, if you were lucky, long onto a local network and connect.
>Once online, you found yourself in a fascinating world of respected
>authors, professionals from all walks of life, especially the computer
>industry. There were downloads available nowhere else. Hardware and
>software vendors had a presence on BIX. BIX rocked.
>
>"BIX was like alt.callahans on steroids. No, that's not quite right.
>BIX was like alt.callahans run through a cyborg shop. You could talk
>to people there, no matter how many degrees they held, no matter how
>high their IQ. On BIX I chatted with the late G.H. Stine, met Jerry
>Pournelle, rubbed elbows with Rick Cook, talked with Jim Baen and many
>others.

"There is a similar service running over here, called CIX, and based
on the same CoSy system that BIX used. It's based in Surbiton, near
London, and for a long time, before CompuServe and AOL established UK
outposts, it was one of the biggest on-line services around. Several
long-time and former Patrons, myself included, have been or are
members of CIX. Sadly, I believe it is now following the same downward
path as BIX, as it is rarely mentioned in the press these days, and
those comments I've heard of late about the service have tended to the
negative."

[Note: I've been an ex-member now for the best part of two years now,
so my info may not be totally up-to-date]

[]


>"Yesterday we finally got the letter, from Delphi president Rusty
>Williams himself. BIX is to be unsupported as of November 1, 2000. I
>suppose we should feel honored that they gave us notification: the way
>Delphi treated BIX, we mostly figured that one day we'd try to log in,
>and BIX would be dead. More or less it's a boilerplate message just
>about identical with the one sent to Delphi premium subscribers.
>

>"So BIX is to die a needless death. BIX could have been a gold mine
>for Delphi, but they couldn't - or wouldn't - see it. I firmly believe
>that one day BIX will be studied in business schools as a case of how
>not to run an online business.

"I suspect that it is BIX the structure, rather than BIX the content,
that is dying. The community spirits, the self-help systems, the
shared resources - these things can be rebuilt in any number of ways.
But the days of the self-contained online services are numbered. AOL
have reinvented themselves time and time again, so that now the only
proprietary part is the client software. CompuServe has become a niche
dweller. Newsgroups, mailing list services, and web-based forums have
appeared to fill the gaps."

>"Some BIXen, as we call ourselves, wonder where we will go. We are the
>virtual dispossessed, cybernetic nomads on the cusp of searching for a
>niche for ourselves. I once proposed a gathering place on what's left
>of Delphi, but I think we'd be about as appreciated there as ants at a
>picnic. A few, like me, will likely take to the newsgroups. Others
>probably will start their own web-based forums. Some already have. But
>it won't be like the old days, with everyone under one roof.

"No doubt AOL would dearly love to do just that, but the (online)
world has changed, and no one service can encompass everything now.
The best that we can hope for is that some of the experience gleaned
from the day-to-day running of the old online services is distilled
and taught to those who will tend to the web-based successors."

>"So here's to BIX. I can think of nothing more fitting to mark your
>passing than a plaque at Tyco Crater.
>
>And with that, the Man in the Hard Hat throws his glass into the
>fireplace.
>
><<<<<<<< CRASH! >>>>>>>>

MonTemplar's Beamish mug follows. *CRASH!*

--
Alan Ralph alan.ralph at cwcom.net

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