I went off to college and saw the Internet for the first time in 1993. Soon I was gaming with friends at other colleges. I quested in Multi User Dungeons and destroyed others in Xtank (I’m pretty sure some Sun mice ended up broken due to Xtank). The school LAN also didn’t hold up too well due to the release of DOOM but I digress.

When I came back to my hometown I was wanting to get back online yet the Internet was not available in my area. A few other friends were involved in ISPs around the country at the time and after some study I launched LocalLink. All tech, from the T1s, Portmasters, to the email was done in house. Initially it covered 3 separate cities that were under-served by Internet Providers. Then a few CLECs offered improved local dialing options and LocalLink grew to a statewide ISP. It wasn’t long before LocalLink offered Satellite and nationwide numbers.

Then under the Bush administrator the 1996 telcom act that forced inter-connectivity on the phone lines was effectively killed. This quickly allowed the large regional baby bells to offer retail rates for their own Internet Services cheaper than wholesale rates they gave to business clients. Nearly overnight thousands of ISPs, who had trained the American people how to use the Internet, disappeared.

A valuable learning experience of running a small business and a great way to learn a wide variety of tech skills. It also taught me that business can be brutal and if you are competing against an industry with vast lobbying powers there is little the small companies can do to survive for long in a head to head fight. This led me to work on projects that change the paradigm and to find new solutions so one is not competing against entrenched players head to head. Blockchain is a prime example of being able to do things in ways unthought of a decade ago.

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