A talker is a communication system precursor to MMORPGs and other virtual worlds such as Second Life. Talkers are a form of online virtual worlds in which multiple users are connected at the same time to chat in real-time. People log into the talkers remotely (usually via telnet), and have a basic text interface with which to communicate with each other.
The early talkers were similar to MUDs with most of the complex game machinery stripped away, leaving just the communication level commands — hence the name "talker". ew-too was, in fact, a MUD server with the game elements removed.
Most talkers are free and based on open source software.
History of talkers
Early Internet talkers
In the school year of 1983-1984, Mark Jenks and Todd Krause, two students at Washington High School in Milwaukee, wrote a software program for talking among a group of people. They used the PDP-11 at the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) central office. After searching around the PDP-11 files and directories, Mark found the PDP-11 program talk, and decided that they could do better. The system had approximately 40 300-2400 bit per second modems attached to it, with a single phone number and a hunt group. The talk program was named TALK and was written to handle many options that are seen in IRC today: tables, private messages, actions, moderators and inviting to tables. Another talk server called NUTS (http://www.ogham.demon.co.uk/nuts.html) which stood for Neils Unix Talk Server was released in 1993 and became fairly popular on Unix systems. Its command system was broadly based on the Unaxcess BBS and being room based it took a lot of inspiration from MUDs too. The source code was given away and became the basis of a huge number of variants and rewrites during the 90s.
In 1996, talker.com was formed, the first server to sell space for talkers, later giving it the name Dragonroost. The server had up to 90+ talkers on it at one time, during the mid-nineties boom of talkers. A number of other hosts started up as alternative hosting companies to talker.com. Talker.com ceased hosting any other talkers besides its owners' on September 28, 2009.
- Hahn, Harley (1996). The Internet Complete Reference (2nd ed.). Osborne McGraw-Hill. p. 498. ISBN 0-07-882138-X.
A TALKER is a multiuser talk facility that is easy to use and is devoted primarily to conversation. You connect to a talker by using telnet [...] The word "talker" is a descriptive term. For example, some talkers are muds, while others are BBSs; there is no strict definition. If it's easy to use, and you connect in order to talk to other people, it is a talker.
- Ito, Mizuko (1997). "Virtually Embodied: The Reality of Fantasy in a Multi-User Dungeon". In Porter, David. Internet Culture (pbk. ed.). Routledge. pp. 89–90. ISBN 0-415-91684-4.
These combat-oriented MUDs stand in contrast to non-gaming "talker" MUDs or educational or professional MUDs.
- Levine, John R. (1997). More Internet for Dummies. IDG Books. p. 197. ISBN 0-7645-0135-6.
Talkers are for talk only, with no games, no monsters to fight, no quests, and no bizarre rules to learn. All you do is talk and make new friends. Talkers are much like IRC, except that rather than join a channel, you move into a room.
- Brandon De Hoyos. "The Early Messengers". Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- "Introduction to MUDs". The Mud Connector.
Talkers began in 1990 with the program "CatChat" at Warwick University which, ironically, used an LP MUD driver and had snoop capability.
- "Dragonroost Talker Server". March 8, 2010.
- Thomas, Angela (July 2007). Youth Online: Identity and Literacy in the Digital Age. Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 1-4331-0033-9. - an ethnographic study of youth online, analyzes textual interactions, including at Middle Earth-related talkers
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