FidoNET, astoundingly, lives on. Allegedly there's a niche for the underlying technology in some parts of the world. From Boing-Boing:
...Back in the paleolithic era, I was hooked on Tom Jennings' amazing FidoNET system for linking message boards across dial-up BBSes...FidoNET was optimized for linking up conversations at a distance in places where long-distance calls cost a lot and didn't work so well, and that makes it ideally suited to the less-developed world, where FIDONet is still in use.I am so ancient I remember the pre-FIDONet era. In the really old days, when only universities were permitted net access, a handful of dial-up BBS services ruled the vastlands. Even at night it was costly to phone them, but real nerds (this was before geeks) paid for unused nighttime bandwidth on the pre-Internet packet switching networks. I think there were three such, I believe I used something called Telenet (It's still around. I'd dial in to a local Telenet node, then connect via Telenet's network to another node, then I think that node dialed a local BBS. It was all very geeky.
Now Jon describes the system he's built to bridge the Web into FidoNET, which you can access here...
Once Fidonet (I don't remember it being written as FidoNET) caught on Telenet was no longer worthwhile. Many of the great BBS of the day were eclipsed by lots of small BBSs, each acting as a Fidonet node and each being a local call. I lived in Escanaba then, a small and lovely town in Michigan's upper penninsula. At first my Fidonet node was a low cost long distance call, then a local BBS took over. Fidonet had a pretty steep barrier to entrance, so the community was pretty strong -- albeit favoring technical issues. In those days I was quite keen on OS/2, so I followed that community fairly closely.
Then came the net. My MCI email address acquired an ampersand: email@example.com. The BBS dinosaurs dwindled and disappeared.
Or so I thought.
But it's not so. Fidonet lives on, albeit a shadow of its former self.
Who knows ... perhaps one day when the Internet becomes completely closed, and all interactions require Microsoft's networking and authentication layer, Fidonet may rise again. Stranger things have surely happened (I think).