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briangefrich:

kaanekii answered your post: Do I have any followers who were born …

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Allow me to tell you a story, child.

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"Stay awhile and listen!"

Back around the time you were born, the Internet was a toddler too, and very little illustrates this like a game called Elf Bowling. This game from NStorm hit the web in 1998. Like many of the whack-a-mole games of that time, it was very simple and involved physical abuse.

In this case, Santa was bored and decided to go bowling, using his elves as pins while a reindeer watched.

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The elves scream in high-pitched synchronized fear every time Santa bowls, and their crushed bodies are swept away into darkness by a giant squeegee.

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Also, the game is really boring, like all bowling games.

Because the internet was still in diapers, of course it went completely viral in 1999.

And it kind of destroyed the Internet.

See, back in those days, most email users were using a program like Outlook Express to download messages to their computer.

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This was before webmail was a thing. A majority of users at this time were still on dial-up (some were lucky enough to get a steady 56k connection, but many would be stuck at 33.6, or even worse, 18.8) and email systems were built to quickly move tiny text messages back and forth. A huge essay-like email to your mom explaining why you need more money? That’s a kilobyte or two in plain text and an email system blasts that out with no issues.

Elf Bowling is 1.1mb.

With a strong 56k connection, 1.1mb takes at least two and half minutes to download.

Outlook Express 5, which came with Windows 98, had a default server timeout of 60 seconds.

In 1999, everybody emailed it to everyone they know.

I was working as an internet tech support rep at the time, and here’s what happened:

  1. Elf Bowling would appear in your inbox on the server.
  2. You would attempt to download new messages.
  3. Everything before Elf Bowling would download fine.
  4. The server would time out trying to download the Elf Bowling file.
  5. The email would not be deleted from the server or marked as downloaded.
  6. Later on you’d try to get new messages and it would start to download Elf Bowling again, preventing new emails from getting through.

Eventually, it might download, or when you called tech support they had you increase the timeout, but then you’d play the stupid game and try to send it to every person you’ve ever met with an email address.

For the entire holiday season that year, email servers were under assault by this stupid game.

And that was only one half of the story. The file that was being sent around was elfbowling.exe.

People were downloading and running an unknown executable file.

Eventually, a chain email started going around, warning that elf bowling was a virus and it was going to delete all the information on your computer on Dec 25th at midnight, but this was determined to be a hoax.

There are two points here:

First off, fuck you, Elf Bowling

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Secondly, kaanekii, marvel at where we have come in just your lifetime. I can watch Doctor Who streaming in HD on my phone, and just 16 years ago, one megabyte of Santa being a jackass almost destroyed the Internet’s email infrastructure.

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