Onramp Computer Services began life in 1990 as MacBBS – a service to the Perth Macintosh community, running on a Xenix/386 system from the offices of ICL in West Perth.

The original MacBBS was entirely written in Bourne Shell, with a backend “database” in plain-text.  It wasn’t connected to the Internet in any way, but through the helpful assistance of Curtin University, where I would later work, I was able to acquire items of interest from UseNet groups like, alt.binaries.mac and repost them for download through our 2400bps modems.

In March 1994, MacBBS returned as a much more mature user experience using SoftArc’s First Class system running on a Macintosh IIx through bleeding edge 9600bps modems

We even had support for direct connections from Newton MessagePads

In late 1994, we were heavily involved in getting a new ISP, Highway 1, up and running – this was the first time that MacBBS, now officially called “Onramp” had direct Internet connectivity, and the users of the system had real-time email access.


Key Projects in Onramp’s early history:

  • Onramp helped in the building of Highway 1 as a true ISP. We started with a Penril comms server and 8 Hayes modems. The link to the Internet was via a very basic solid-state router and Jtec TA which bonded two ISDN B-channels to make a 128Kbit connection. Our initial hosting machine was a Sun SPARCClassic and our user server – temporarily called “hedgehog” – was a SPARCStation 2. highway1.com.au was delegated on 20/12/1994. Within 12 months, we had added another link (to Curtin University) for News traffic, and a new news server running FreeBSD, we also had our first permanent connections.  By December 1997, Highway 1 had about 1500 users using dialin, and 65 or so permanent connections and transitioned to Cisco routers and ISDN termination for indial to allow for 56K modems.
  • Highway 1 - 1997

  • In the mid-nineties, we also helped Scott Print build what at the time, was one of the largest direct-attached storage arrays for their digital pre-press system, based on Sun SPARC hardware – the disk array was a whopping 9Gb using multiple CDC Swift Full-height 3Gb SCSI-2 drives in a mirrored and striped array.
  • Maintaining UNIX servers (including Apple Workgroup Server 95’s) for PrintForce.
  • Subcontract development for Resolutions Multimedia involving projects written for Macromedia Director, SuperCard and others developed in Pascal
  • Maintaining Silicon Graphics lab at AMTC based on Indy and Indigo Extreme2 platforms.
  • Working on various software packages with AD Software (http://www.oofile.com.au) including OOFILE – an object oriented DBMS written in C++.  I wrote a software module to allow OOFILE high-speed access to DBase 3/4 format databases and a graphical engine to display various types of graphs from data within the system.  I also had major input into the design and some development work in the report-writer.
  • Involved in design and commissioning of DataCard Systems’ HP/UX systems and Internet network infrastructure including installation of bank-level network security using Checkpoint FireWall-1 and other products.  Later assisted in design of software for their Internet payment gateway and commissioning of x.25 network links to a major Australian bank for their EFT interchange
  • Omni Instruments in Dundee, Scotland specialize in the supply of data acquisition and logging hardware.  I was commissioned to design and build prototypes for GSM and radio modem hardware solutions.  While there, I helped the team with a number of system and network installations including one in a power station in the Outer Hebrides.
  • Loch Carnan Power Station

Ken Taylor

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