This loose timeline is from the perspective of the starting of Pacifier Online Data Service which started as the Pacifier BBS (Bulletin Board Service). This article is being written in late January 2022 after a very chaotic few months of server moves, consolidations and of course a billing system deployment. There will be a separate article at some point of why Doug came off the bench so to speak to get back in this business.
May 1987 – Pacifier starts as a dialup BBS in the Palin family kitchen, this was done solely as a hobby at the time where you could exchange emails both with other local users, the focus was a combination of Commodore 64 programs and DOS programs along with of course emails and Fido Net message boards (Echo Mail to you old timers). The BBS over the following few years ended up adding a few phone lines, initially a second one for the local Vancouver PC Users Group for the exclusive use of the members. It was all free in those days with occasional requests for donations for some new shiny object, faster modems or more disk space. Doug at the time had a small PC hardware business (they call it IT these days) that in reality supported the BBS and as a young family extra spending cash, his day job was a bench technician for ADP Dealer Services.
The first day it is live Doug’s (very patient) wife sees that the computer is left on when he went to work and well turned it off. The first person he told about the BBS at work tried to call in and well couldn’t.
Late 1980’s and early 1990’s – The PC Hardware business continued to grow as a side business for Doug and the need came to get more dialup phone lines, while the exact count is hazy it was approximately 4-5 in 1990
The BBS specs at this stage of it’s evolution were something along these lines.
CPU: 286 16Mhz
Disk: 1.6G – The wife started getting fussy when a hole was cut in the wall to run the SCSI cable to the hard disk enclosure with the six 6 x 5.2f” full height hard disks on the floor of the garage.
This was in a house near Evergreen Highschool.
Summer 1990 – Doug and family move to a new house off Burton Rd in Vancouver, Doug proceeds to take over the basement and Garage for “The Business”. The BBS is very popular, it was up to 5 phone lines and a very expensive phone bill each night making calls at 9600 baud to send/receive email. Ongoing discussions were happening with a friend in Portland and a 9600 baud lease line is installed using two copper pairs from what in those days was PNW Bell (Later US West). This gives us 5 dialup lines and a 9600 baud connection to a friend, this was one of the very first TCP/IP Connections in the Vancouver area. People could dialup to the BBS or Unix system and download files, email, usenet news. This was prior to the World Wide Web coming on the scene and largely still text based. Shortly after this point a new Graphical BBS software was on the Unix systems call CocoNet, this was an alternative to the AOL/Prodigy which were popular at the time.
Fall 1991 – Doug is asked to setup a BBS as a consulting project in Kuwait, at this point he is still working for ADP but agrees to go over there for a week and work with them on the project and deploys a BBS over the week he is there. This was an interesting experience five months after the first Gulf War for a young technician from Vancouver.
Summer – 1992 – Doug no longer working for ADP returns to Kuwait for a month and expands their BBS substantially, at the time they had 24 phone lines.
The Pacifier BBS continues to grow in popularity over the next year and adds a rate for more usage time per day. It quickly becomes obvious there is a growing need for more dialup lines. The BBS and much of the associated systems roughly 4-5 computers are moved to an office space upstairs in a building at Evergreen Blvd and U Street in what used to be a gas station. Not a lot of people knew it was there at the time but the local phone company was there some what frequently adding phone lines.
Fall 1992 – The World Wide Web hits the scene, Pacifier the BBS is growing adding phone lines but people are asking for dialup SLIP & PPP connections. Doug works on a way to offer both connection types using terminal servers from Livingston, users to the BBS would select option 1 on their screen to go to the BBS, 2 to go to the unix shell. More phone lines are added.
Spring 1994 – Pacifier is moved to a new location at McLoughlin at F St, the hardware is in the basement in what becomes our offices for several years.
Expansion continues adding phone lines and requests to go to other areas
There were times in the coming years that we were adding phone lines or wanting too much faster then the local phone companies were able to keep up. This included Electric Lightwave, Time Warner and several others.
Summer 1998 – US West announces DSL deployment in Oregon and Washington and much like the cables companies excludes the ISP’s from being able to sell customers access over the DSL networks. A group of six local ISP’s also competitors jointly hire an attorney to essentially protest this with the Oregon and Washington utilities commission. The group includes Pacifier, Teleport, Europa, RainNet, Transport Logic & Easystreet. All the ISP’s started adding DSL (Broadband) customers and saw continued growth.
Fall 1999 – Doug starts to receive offers to purchase Pacifier from multiple sources, ultimately Pacifier is sold to Millennium Digital Media at the beginning of 2000 with Doug eventually running the “Western Region” which in reality was Washington, Oregon and South CA.
2000 – Pacifier is now part of MDM iNet which later was eventually rebranded at USNet. At this point the company consisted of several ISP’s to be integrated.
NWlink, S.O.S, Snovalley, Europa
Summer 2000 – Proaxis is acquired and joins the growing company
In the Easter region were
One Net Communcations
Fall 2000 – TST Onramp is acquired and joins the growing company, TST on it’s own had done acquisitions.
Infinity Internet (iinet.com in Temecula, CA)
Summer 2001 – Doug leaves, largely this was to take some time off and figure out what was next. Still a young family with two kids in middle school and two toddlers running around, still the patient wife at home he is given a honey do list which is wrapped up in short order and lots of golf.
Spring 2002 – Doug acquires back his old company and most of the rest of the region he managed. The company never was fully integrated into a single platform so to speak, efforts are started to combine multiple billing systems and server platforms for the various “brands”. This included moving several offices.
Spring 2003 – The new company in the process of branding itself as Infinity Internet, we have been asked why. Well we had the domain and it seemed like a good idea at the time to use one name.
Spring 2003 – Infinity acquires or really takes over the lease for a Data Center in downtown Portland, almost 11,000 sqft of space. Well the lease is about what we were paying across the street for a small space and we could sell or move colocation we already had into this space so well it made sense.
The data center, managed servers continue to grow very rapidly through 2008. We were adding customers to the data center in various flavors weekly or more often.
2008/2009 – The economy essentially crashes and all the small startups essentially went away. Ironically the data center business continued to grow through the next few years but at a much slower pace. A building was purchased to be the next data center location near the Portland airport, some work was strategically done on this building to prepare it for an anchor customer and be operational inside of 6 months when needed.
2012 – After ongoing discussions with Seaport Capital both Infinity and Easystreet were acquired by Seaport, the transactions were independent of each other but happened minutes apart. Doug leaves again to play golf and do some consulting.
2013/2014 – Easystreet and Infinity are initially rebranded as Easystreet and later Atmosera and begin to focus on the data center and Cloud busines.
2021 – Atmosera sell it’s three data centers to Digital Fortress.
September 2021 – Following casual joking by Doug with Atmosera over a few years he purchases the remaining legacy business and a series of planned migrations begins to upgrade and modernize the infrastructure which largely has not been touched in 10-15 years. It still resides in the same data center and has been reduced to a couple of cabinets with more planned efforts already under way. Another article about why will be written at some point when time permits.
The rest has yet to be written, we are much smaller then we were in the early 2000’s, there are just a few of us. This history or timeline was written to provide some details, we frequently hear from customers that have become friends over the years and we enjoy catching up. We are here to help and know you have been around since the beginning. Occasionally we hear from the BBS users or those that came to the Giant Computer Garage Sales we had in the garage, it seems like so long ago but it has been a really fun ride to this point. Time will tell what the next chapter holds.
This article was written from the perspective of what I was involved in through the years, I have made many great friends over that time some I am still in touch with and others I hear from on occasion and others who I have lost touch with. If any of the 25 or so ISP’s that were combined over time to become Infinity have details you want to share I welcome them. I plan create a separate page on the various brands at some point.