Back in 1994 I was a 20 year old kid going to engineering school who never touched a computer. In one of my courses I had an old professor who was crazy about computers, he devoted several lectures about why everyone in the class should own a computer. He held up the Microsoft Office student edition software set and said ‘You have to buy this, it’s only $400 at the bookstore’. He convinced me, I needed to do my reports with a ‘word processor’ I needed to buy a computer. I scraped up whatever money I had with the help of some extra student loan money and bought that computer. It was a spanking brand new 486DX2-66 Turbo with 4MB of RAM and 256MB Hard Drive all for $2000!
A few days later I was in the drug store when I stumbled upon a magazine called PC Magazine with the title ‘Make the INTERNET Connection’. I was curious, I barely understood the articles, I had no idea what did what. I even bought a Windows for Dummies book to learn all the computer jargon. It was around then that my 11 yr old kid brother told me to go buy a modem so we can do ‘stuff’. We ended up buying a US Robotics 14.4 baud modem. From the magazine we found an Internet provider by the name of Delphi. It had no browser and was all text based, it was neat, I was on the internet!
Around that time, my brother found out about connecting to a local BBS. It was a BBS using RoboBOARD. The Sysop of the BBS made a request to ‘chat’ with my brother. Then text started to appear on the screen, I was blown away! what he hell? Text was appearing on our screen whoa!!! Remember this was almost 25 years ago, before MSN and AOL messenger, smart phones and texting. We later found local internet providers in our area and were able to go on the web with programs like Netscape and by early 1995 we found mIRC.
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
mIRC was a new chat program at the time that connected to IRC servers where you could enter chat rooms full of like minded users related to the topic of the room. One of the cool features at the time was Direct Client-to-Client (DCC) which enabled peers to interconnect through IRC in order to exchange files. While chatting with various people from our local BBS, we found out about some chat rooms where you could get full working versions of software for free! Yeah even that $400 Microsoft Office suite my professor was talking about.
My brother and I checked it out, we learned the commands to initiate DCC connections in order to ‘leech’ free software from users offering it in the chat rooms. This was warez, It was like being able to help yourself to all the candy at the candy store for free. We downloaded the latest zero-day warez (copyrighted software that is cracked on the same day it is released) it was cool, our hard-drive was full of software worth thousands of dollars.
I remember downloading classic games like FIFA 95, Doom, NBA Jam and Duke Nukem 3D. Some of these games weren’t even released in the stores yet! It was fun doing warez.
Becoming a Warez Legend
The more my brother got into the warez, the more he got popular in the warez scene. He started to hack ftp sites, using his alias SeEd95 as a directory and storing the latest warez in there. One of his most famous exploits was the ftp site: coil.com pub/users/SeEd95, not only did he upload software he got from mIRC but so did other warez users. At it’s peak this directory had 2TB of warez easily worth $2.5 million dollars at the time. This site was using a fast T1 connection, It didn’t matter that SeEd95 was a 11 year old kid with a 14.4 baud modem. To the thousands of people in the warez community, SeEd95 was a legend. He was also running a BBS using excalibur and in its heyday pulling over $600/month giving elite access to paying members for the latest warez.
By the summer of 1996, the original warez scene slowly began to crack, More people got connected to the Internet to the point that it wasn’t exclusive anymore. BBSs’ started to disappear as people found the World Wide Web. Systems administrators got smarter when it came to ftp security, CD-ROM burners became increasingly popular. The way people did warez completely changed, the fun was over.
Doing warez almost a quarter century ago is way different from how its done now. There are still some sites that help you find warez on IRC but the scene is no where close to how it used to be. Getting warez via FTP is almost non-existent, chatting and forging friendships based solely on warez? Forget it. You’re better off doing the torrent thing, anyone can do it, it’s easy now. You don’t need to search hard and have warez legend help you anymore.