When I left university, my first job was working at a local company in Norwich that specialised in building, selling and repairing PCs. I learnt to build a PC from scratch – installing the motherboard, CPU, RAM, hard drives and CD-ROM drives and how to diagnose problems with existing systems. But the overall goal was to set-up a local Norwich dial-up ISP and offer other services such as web design and hosting. Thanks to having some experience with Linux, I got the job of running the ISP. I did the lot: building servers, running them, writing software for dial-up set-ups, providing technical support and finally web design for clients.
At the time (this was around 1996/1997), there were a few big national ISPs. Demon Internet was one of them. It was a techie’s dream ISP in many ways – it offered unfettered access to Usenet, gave you a static IP for free, provided a comprehensive internet web/email client (Turnpike) and a subdomain of your own choosing in which you could use to receive email to as many email addresses as possible.
For example, if you had a username of wibbler, your hostname would be wibbler.demon.co.uk. You could have [email protected], and you’d be able to use Turnpike or some other third party email program to filter incoming mail. This was all before spamming and phishing became a real problem.
I implemented a similar system at Albatross (no static IPs though).