UPDATE: this contest has ended. Huge thanks to the community for sharing your networking stories from back in the day — we thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing with everyone! Congrats to our three randomly selected winners: @msimonton, @ivannavaq, and @AVLSOLUTIONS!
This month, we proudly present the Networking Nostalgia Contest! We were feeling nostalgic for this contest and decided to bring it back😀
Do you ever look back on your pre-Meraki work life with a bit of nostalgia? Some of our team members have somewhat-fond recollections of outrageously out-of-date or incomplete network diagrams (see below), desperate attempts to locate APs in large buildings without the aid of blinking LEDs, and of having to leave their desks to do EVERYTHING!
Tell us your tales of networking nostalgia. Pictures, videos, and/or humorous anecdotes are encouraged!
Post your tales of networking nostalgia in a comment on this blog post before 11am PDT on Wednesday May 26, 2021. We'll then pick three entries at random to win a Meraki "I Cloud Manage" t-shirt!
The first "network" I ever created was between my parents house and my best friend who lived 4 houses down. We somehow got ahold of a spool of Cat3 and purchased a home network kit with two NICs and a 5-port 5Mbit "Hubby" as they called it.
Around 3am on a Sunday we went to work going through the neighbor's backyards and burying the unshielded cable about 6 inches down.
Lots of work just to play Warcraft without tying up a phone line!
I remember in late 2000's when Internet Cafe's first came around my town I had one at the ground floor of my apartament building. I was just a kid and I convinced the owner to let me connect to it's internal network in order to play Counter-Strike with the guys that were going there.
I had to work every weekend in the Internet Cafe and he connected me with an RJ-45 by hanging it from my balcony on the 7th floor to his window on the ground floor.
Those were the days...
The First network I built was in early 2000, I ran an ethernet cable from the power outlet to the other room, connecting my Father's PC to mine and we shared a dial-up internet on demand, so whenever he wanted to go to internet my modem would dial the number and connect and then he could use the internet. Sometimes it was 2AM.
I remember when dumb terminals were so awesome! I miss those serial cables. Life in the 80's...it was easy being green...and black...and just so darn heavy!!!
Oh the joys of introducing AppleTalk as my first job as a network administrator in a large school district. Finder please don't crash... please, no Finder, don't do it... Finder crashed.
I remember "back in the day" installing a first gen Apple AirPort with 56k in a clients house so the kids could share the internet on wifi. It was the only affordable way to share a modem connection in a residential situation.
My first network was a 1200 baud modem connected to my Amiga computer and analog phone line
circa 1987. It was connected to UUCP and initially would wake me up when other computers would
connect to it in the middle of the night (or did it dial out? I don't recall!) to dump off the latest news
In early 2000's we ran T1's to all sites. When a link would get saturated we used to go to the main computer room to re-allocate channels on circuits from voice to data. We also would bind T1's together for more bandwidth. This was our WAN drawing at the time with the circuit numbers.....
Man! I do not miss those days...
the first network I built was in the late 90s, it was in a house and utilized a 2 line pbx configured to leave all extensions open and the computers had modems. it was a tad ridiculous, but it worked
I actually have two to share and both give away my age ...
First "honest to gosh" network I had to play with was configuring and working with Datapac X.25 connections between a number of shopping centres and head office in the late 80's. The X.25 connections transferred data between the Prime system at head office (a 9955 Mod II that filled four cabinets) and some weirdo Unix boxes (Fortunes) at the shopping centres. Hideously slow, tortuous to configure, a nightmare to troubleshoot when things went wrong (and they did, frequently).
A few years later in the early 90's at another employer we started implementing frame relay connections between some branches and head office as we slowly moved off of dial up and UUCP file transfers to the relative joy and speed of the frame relay connections. All systems were Solaris which made things a bit easier to manage as Solaris "understood" networking even if the people pushing the buttons (my staff and I) were still trying to figure it all out. Trust me when I say that we have it relatively easy nowadays, specially when there is a Meraki dashboard and Meraki gear involved!
First networks were just ad-hocs between 2 laptops using patch cables to play games together at school.
I remember back in the 80s helping setup our High Schools network back in the day by daisy chaining all the computers together and using a repeater.
Then in the late 90s, someone who will remain unnamed got the first linksys wifi router in the apartment building and bought the fastest speed the local ISP had available, and then charged all the neighbors $20 each to connect to it.
In 2014 I started working for a Charter School in San Diego that had 26 campuses from San Diego to Sacramento, one of our sites had a $2,500/mo internet bill with no description. When I called the company, we were paying $1,250/ea for two old T1 lines when they had a 300mb connection available for $99/mo.
Gotta love the internet. I still miss the old days of the static noise the 12-48kpbs modems used to make as they literally dialed up the connection.
When I left college in 2000 I got a summer job working as a "technician". I knew next to nothing about telecoms, and was told by the agency to say I was an apprentice electrician.
I told the site foreman straight that I had no idea what I was doing and he took pity on me. The other guys were all in their 60's having recently retired from BT and making a small fortune as contractors in the .com boom installing networks. They decided having a young squirt run up and down the switchroom all day pulling cables while they sat on the cable drums at either end terminating cables gave them an easy life and decided kept me on for the rest of the summer going all over the UK and even to France, Holland and Ireland. We had one job where lifting all the floor tiles in the switchroom was impossible so we gaffa taped about 60 coax cables to my boot and I crawled the length of the building with cables in tow.
By the end of the summer I decided not to go to Uni and carried on. I pinched some manuals and learned about SDH networks and managed to blag another job in the offices at Marconi. Its all downhill from there really 🙂
The first network I dealt with was a Token Ring running Windows 3.11 with Workgroups. It used the NetBEUI protocol. I spent many an hour running RG-58 Coax in the ceiling, and chasing down 50 ohm terminators to keep the packets from leaking out the end of the line.
Their first internet was Internet In A Box. Which in those days was pretty advanced since the public internet was still in it's infancy.
I was so glad when it was switched to Cat 5.
Let's go back in time and remember when we start networking from the ARPANET, TOKEN RING and NOVELL Networks that was fun time avoiding collisions and looking for best routes and how to really segmenting the network for later implementing better and stable WiFi connections, From Micro Cells (Microwaves) frequencies or even satellite among others options.
I'm too young for this?
My first network was just 2 years ago. I connect all the branches to the main office with Meraki and traditional Cisco.
All the MX are connected by a VPN Site-to-Site and the WLC is in the central office and gives the SSID for all the branch offices.. The domain server is also connected to the MX for users using the VPN.
I think I missed those good old days when everything was by console. I just did all this on the dashboard.
When I finished University, I was really hesitating about what my future career should be like. I studied electronics and communications engineering and that's why I started to get involved with the Cisco world by studying the Cisco curricula.
I have always loved airplanes and aviation, so, my ideal job was something that would allow me to combine airplanes and networking. It was a bit difficult because I wanted to fly so, there was not so much networking inside the plane. I started then looking for a job as a flight attendant and as an engineer, two completely different worlds.
When I went to the flight attendant interviews, they always asked why I wanted to be a flight attendant since I studied engineering. Then, when I went to the engineering job interviews, I had no experience at all so it was a bit difficult to get in. Finally, one day, it was december the 19th. I received 2 calls: I was accepted to work in Volaris, a local airline, and also to work in Cisco TAC. It was one of the most difficult decisions in my life.
For some reason, the engineer inside me, was stronger that the guy wanting to spend time flying and I accepted the TAC offer. It was my first job ever, I had the greatest co-workers and friends and I can say I learned a lot, like never before. There was always a new challenge and something new to learn. A few years later, in a different job, I was able to work and participate in a project to design the WiFi network of some airlines in the Mexico Airport, so, my dream came true!! networking and airplanes together. I really enjoyed that project.
I wouldn't change anything and now, I'm a happy presales engineer! 🙂
My first network was peer to peer. It used air pressure waves. Some people might call it sound. We used a protocol called spoken language.
It's still around, but almost dead now. Replaced with electronics variants.
I probably shouldn't include the time I had to write a driver in 11 bit PP code so a Control Data Cyber could talk to a PDP 1123. With no debug capability, I was reduced to run until Cyber crash. The look at a memory dump.
More recently there have been countless times when I have walked into a new client, and no one knows the passwords for the firewall, switches or access points. A factory reset and rebuilding things from scratch was the work around. I have also been locked out of HP switches, when the Cert expires and the only access was via HTTPS. So far I have sold 3 Meraki switches because no one could remember the password for the original switch.
I have also had a SonicWall that every firmware upgrade corrupted the config so the device so it wouldn't load.
Finally, Meraki has allowed me to grow my business! I can manage all my clients networks from anywhere, and with one account. This makes part of my business model scalable!
I spent a lifetime (it seems) engaged in customer projects as an MSP. I can't count how many times spoke sites (and even data centers) were deploying internet or data center routing via policy based routes for each protocol or even src/dst IP/CIDR.
I remember updating firewall policies via ASDM on a device level.
Cutting and pasting golden switch templates - running with a find and replace notepad tool to change device specific attributes.
....flashback even further to my time in the USAF. Multiplexers, BAMs, SSH term servers galore. I don't miss those days haha
Year 2004, First experience with the DCS Multiplexers (LOOP) , took a while to understand the bandwidth difference in E1 lines and T1. Capture snapshots from one the ATP ( Acceptance test procedure Docs)
As a former SE for Meru Networks, I have way too many stories to share. I am blown away by the ease and simplicity of a Meraki solution.
I remember a specific hotel customer who was having issues with bandwidth. They weren't able to get over 10 Mbps and that was with the client device a couple feet from the AP. This seemed very odd so I went to the customer's location to investigate. My thinking was that there must be some sort of RF obstruction caused by how the APs were mounted ... maybe they were installed in a steel enclosure ... I had no clue.
I met my reseller there and we went into the site together to troubleshoot the issue. After about 5 minutes of investigation I discovered the issue. I turned to the customer and said, "Ah, here's the issue. Whoever installed this apparently didn't know what they were doing." What the installer had done, because cabling was too difficult, was borrow a single pair from the in-room analog phones (Cat 3) and used that to provide data connectivity to the APs. They simply put one wire on the Rx side and another on the Tx side. Frankly, I'm surprised it worked at all.
To make things even more interesting, an inspection of the IDF revealed that they had used 66-block connectors (remember they borrowed the phone wires) to interconnect back into their network. For every connection there was a gigabit ethernet extender inserted in the middle of the drop. I asked what these were for since the cable lengths were well within spec, and the reseller said, "We're the ones who installed all of this." Oops, open mouth, extract foot. They continued, "These gigabit ethernet extenders are used to bump this back to gigabit since we weren't able to cable them correctly." Yeah, no ... that's now how that works. You literally can't make this stuff up. The customer was ready to rip us out of their hotel because our product was "garbage" when it was actually an inept installation crew that created every issue.
At the end of the day, I was able to fix the customer's issues but at the expense of my reseller's ego. Needless to say, we had a falling out with that reseller. Given the quality of their work, we were okay seeing them go.
I will write some milestones along my career in IT (Networking)
0. Year 1986/1987
1. RS-232 Dumb terminal RS-232 Communication between Digital Vax and remote terminals
In the last millenium, it was around 1996 when I got my first touch to internet. I called a BBS (bulleting board system) with 2400baud modem and read about internet and all the new stuff. Had to load some tcp/ip driver that was HUGE (1.4Mb) and took ages to download - phone bills were terrible. Finally got connected and then "so whats next", didn't know where to go.. well, then downloaded mIRC client and got my first contact to IRC with one of the preselected channels, #funfactory. And that's the path I'm standing now - running over 150 site Meraki cloud managed network with an ease of few clicks from anywhere I need. Cant wait what it will be after next 25 years 🤔😎
I forgot about BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) and Compuserve as the first Commercial BBS were some manufacturers could give you support.
Compuserve = Pre Internet Era....
Agree with you 100% regading cloud management.
In it´s early stages you should load manually the host table in each workstation there was no DHCP, I recall circa 1990 reading about DHCP at the Networks Communications Magazine.
PD: Don´t forget about the Cassete Backups that never worked when needed!!!
I remember when I joined a consulting company then, Telex, Packet switching, arcnet, ethernet, token-ring, co-axial cable was the thing, twisted pair
was just beginning to be the new way of connecting networks augmented by Balun converters. Many networking techs do not understand the concept of twisted pair, it was a very busy starting few months troubleshooting the previous work of my colleagues, when I realized their twisted pair mistakes.
I've been in networking for over 2 decades now and the most fun experience i had was about 2004 when working my first full time networking admin, not just helpdesk/remote support/part networking. I took over from former admin and 4 days in the head branch, the management blade in the core switch died ..... Kind of. It turned the big old Catalyst 4006 series switch into a hub ..... All the traffic coming in suddenly crashed the network with so many collisions it wasnt even funny. All traffic to our CAD, file, print and mail servers just .... Stopped. We ended up having to break out some old 3Com 10Mbps switches to which we hooked just as old 3Com hubs and redistributed all the patches to those instead hoping the 3Com switches would at least break up the traffic coming in from the hubs. It helped, a bit .... But support on that core was 8x5 NBD so by the time the part was ordered it wasnt "processed" until the Friday. Cisco just replaced the whole thing as it was that bad. Shipped over the weekend so ispent Monday night reracking a new 4006 and reconfiguring and repatching it all. Business was on "limited functionality and speed" until then. Next time renewal for support came around the business sprung for 4hr support. On top of it all that office (primary site for a telco) also never ran Cat5 to desks .... Former owners had wiring guys run 25pair cables to 12 port patch panels ..... 2 pairs only wired per port ..... So besides the hub issue we also always had severe crosstalk on wires, to the point someone would print and it would knock someone offline until the job ended.. Part of my later plan there was putting in 2950 switches where the patch panels were ... Repatching in just 4 pairs to one patch and using that as an end run to data center vs 12 patches back to the core. Suddenly the network performance jumped as they had basically gone from 10Mbps with crosstalk to 10/100 with some basic rewiring and switches placed strategically. Yes .... It was a telco ... But a "cheap" one .... Until they couldnt get work done ... Then they loosened their purse strings.
Selling "combo" NIC cards in the late 90s that had a RJ-45, AUI (10Base5) and coax (BNC, 10Base2) connector for those networks that had a mix of everything! Plus then the next day of selling a 802.11b NIC for new magic wireless networks that were starting to appear!!
This picture takes me back to 1999, when I first started working in this great IT field. This NOC would be full of exciting stories, but the best one was when an intern was asked to get rid of all coax cabling that had been plugged in an Old TNT Lucent. The funny (not that funny at that time) is the intern guy somehow decided to cut all cables off by using pliers and ended up putting all Lucents down and causing a massive outage. When we came up to him asking Why had he done that, he says: "I have been dealing with those cables for years as a TV technician, don't come up to me saying what I have to do when it comes to coax cables".
Believe in me, this guys is still working for that ISP ;-0)
I had some of those combo cards at home. Ran cables between home computers with BNC connectors over to a desktop that i also installed Windows 98 for "internet sharing" over dialup (in N.Ireland wasnt much for home internet until juat after i moved to the US) .... Users complain about when theres too many on the wifi ..... Yeah try "sharing the internet over dialup" ... Let me hear your cries ... You know nothing millenials!!
Some of my first connections into networking were working on a peer to peer /Client-Server network using a product called Artisoft Lantastic in the early 1990's. We connected the computers together using 10base2 coaxial connectors, a bus topology , and if you happened to forget to terminate the connection, no network traffic would be seen.
Additionally, the printer was not network enabled, so we learned how to create a serial connection to allow the DOS based programs to print to the server. The server sent the job to the printer. It was impressive to see many sheets of tax returns "flying" out of the laser printer at about 6 pages per minute (I think).
When we moved to an advanced Lantastic, I discovered the Novell Netware version 2 or 3 running in the background; had NO idea how to even start in the Netware part of the installation. Thank goodness the text base menu was manageable for a newbie.
30 + years later, I have been in small to medium business stand alone, networked, and inter-networked systems.
I still remember the satisfaction in getting 10 workstations to talk to that server, and the 30k price tag to make it work for that customer.
I remember after getting my first modem, I'd call a BBS in Fargo, ND rather than any in my home state due to long distance charges (no local BBS in my hometown). My first experience with the Internet was exchanging email with my high school girlfriend was we went to colleges in different states. My first experience with a LAN came a few months after a started my first adult job in the mid-90s. I was an engineering technician and we used to toss floppy discs over the cubicle wall to share data. Came into the office one Monday morning and found that we'd upgraded to Windows for Workgroups and had 10base-t cards installed in our computers. While finding broken connections in the coaxial network became a new frustration, it was worth it to end the game of floppy disk tennis.
My first ethernet network was 10BaseT it was a THICK Yellow Cable with marks every 2.5 meters. The cable was 89m long with terminators at each end.
To add a computer you attached a vampire TAP and then using a orange drill tool you drilled into the side of the cable to the thick core and installed the vampire tap. you then connected the vampire tap via and D15 AUI cable to the network card in the computer .
You could only TAP at the TAP marks 1.5 meters apart (so collisions could be detected) so there were a lot of big loops of yellow cable under the desks.
I still have a piece of the cable and terminator as a memento when decommissioned by the new 16mb Token ring network on Shielded twisted pair and still have the orange tapping tool and an AUI cable !
I started doing this job in the early 2000s.
Mainly handled Cisco products, but I also handled network device from other peculiar vendors.
Ellacoya, Camiant, Gobacktv, RGB networks, etc.
Does anyone know of the above company's products?
Interestingly, all of these companies have been acquired by other companies.
I remember working with Gobacktv.
The company's founder was Paul Baran, who developed packet switching and created the internet at ARPANET.
I was very honored to work with his son.
Also I found a very old funny photo~
In 2012 I was working in a partner and my customer was an ISP. One day I had to upgrade 7600 (I learned how to do in a previous MW) this device never came up again and impact 2 states. We lost the RSP and LC. More than 8 hours to tshoot and days to get an RMA. I'm still checking the logs to find "my mistake".
Each time we need upgrade devices we need have in a USB every single software version to upload to the switches/AP/etc but now we just have to schedule and upgrade and the correct one version is ready to use.
I can still clearly remember my first 56k modem. The endlessly long dial-up and that annoying dial-up tone. With Meraki, I hardly have to worry about the WAN breakout anymore. LTE is available almost everywhere and you can really get any site online.
I just remember summing up all my downloading tasks for the night and waking up every hour in the hope to see the DOWNLOAD COMPLETE tab in the download tasks. 😄
HAIL OLD SPEED INTERNET
I remember being part of setting up a LAN party network in a bungalow park roughly 15 years ago. Hundreds of cables, dozens of switches, roughly 100 participants and no DHCP server, no spanning tree and no redundancy. Fun times!
I remember when I had one vlan for entire network and kept also all fixed IP in my mind 😱...
Now with dashboard Meraki, I can see all IP as I want (and keep mind free for other things 😁).
I remember this time, when I was Technical Implementation Owner, for international "wan"... We created Permanent Virtual Circuit on Frame Relay protocol ... the X25 packet commutation protocol was almost over.
It was a "small" revolution, the customers edge could have 64k PVC (and 128k too ? ) ! The price was expensive ... then the ADSL technology has appeared, it was an high (highest than Framerelay) broadband connection at a low price ... Then my job has been was outsourced to a low cost country 😉
And now I provide to my customer 1 Gbps connection !
My first real "network approach" was at school with Pascal scheduling compiling... yes you had to wait to get your job done ...
My first "professional" approach was in the army, we still got coassial cable everywhere with "termination points" and dealing with collisions... but I saw also my first "fiber" connected between floors and a Novell Network where I had to deal with incremental backup daily and full backup every week... on a tape ... changing the tape every week to get 2 different copies ... That was disaster recovery ...
About 30 years ago i was a field engineer. Had to go to a customer - employee of a large insurance company - to do a small modification on a dialup-modem. The modem sometimes started to dialin by its own, causing high phone bills.
Usually we only did business-to-business visits, so only offices, retail locations etc., But this time i went to a private house.
The male employee was on the road, i was alone with his wife. She started talking and making advances to me while i was doing the modification....
Of course i ... [text deleted by moderator..].
Oh yes, does anyone remember the "my network is slow!!!" complaints, just to find out that the central Windows NT server was running an OpenGL moving screen saver that was consuming all CPU power of that server...?
Hint: A black mark (every 2.5m) if you said "a candle" 😀
In the mid-90's I was in my first job in networking, it was second-line with network monitoring (24/7) and the occasional field trip. The latter involved some installation abut also the odd troubleshooting using The "Sniffer Pro" from Network General on ethernet and token-ring. This software had the odd "feature" that after you had recorded the traffic and "Saved it" you also had to "Print it" so that it was physically stored on the hard-drive! Don't ask me how I learned this...
Just like @RobertDick my first real network was a military network which utilised the X.25 protocol. Good old fashioned packet switching over line of site radio paths which was secured using some form of cryptography.
Here i am with my detachment commander before deploying to Kosovo - 1999
"Everybody" knows the 10BASE2 / BNC LAN Parties?!
And if somehow all computers were seen in the network - mostly somebody screamed:
NOBODY DO A REBOOT ANYMORE! IT WORKS! LETZS PLAY DUKE!
My first computer an Atari 800 had a 300 baud acostic modem which was a pain cause you couldn't auto dial or answer, so when I got a 1200 baud that could auto answer I decided to create my own BBS. At first I would set it up using my parents phone number and only have it running on off hours, but that did't work out to well. My parents didn't like getting random modem calls all the time, so with my paper route money I got my own phone number and my BBS was up and running 24x7. I ran the BBS for about 3 years, but when I moved over to an "IBM compatible computer" I shut it down.
Back in my salad days of networking back in the late 1980s and 1990s, it was still very much a multi-protocol World:
Source Route Bridging (SRB), Source Route Translational Bridging (SRTLB) and Synchronous Network Architecture (SNA) were common.
ARCnet was still around and Ethernet cable “vampire taps” were still being used.
The Ethernet versus Token Ring LAN wars had not yet been won, with many businesses and financial institutions still opting for the determinism of Token Ring. Token Ring LAN switching was emerging and the High Speed Token Ring Alliance (HSTRA) was formed in 1997 to provide a multi-vendor alliance against the emerging (and cheaper) Ethernet-based LAN solutions.
VLANs were something new !
X.25 WANs (branded as DPN-100 by Northern Telecom) were, again, preferred by businesses and financial institutions, given the circuit was a connection-oriented, packet-switched protocol. Connectionless WAN protocols like Frame Relay were just becoming proven and popular.
When I worked at IBM Network Hardware Division (NHD), Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) appeared to be the Holy Grail to unit both the WAN and LAN realms :
IBM NHD developed and promoted their ATM LAN Emulation (ATM LANE) solution based on their IBM 8210 Multiprotocol Switched Services (MSS) Server, 8265 ATM Switch and 8272 Token Ring Switch with ATM uplink card.
The Year 2000 Problem, or Y2K as it was known, was a looming and ominous threat.
New Year’s Eve in 1999 was tinged with dread of a World crashing down due to myriad computer problems with year data shown only as 2 digits. I literally only ever saw just ONE example of this in a harmless log. The World survived !
But, I digress … It has been a great and wonderful ride !
While the trivia of the past may be interesting, the promise of future technologies like quantum-based computers and networking is far more interesting !
Cheers … Brian Carlson, P.Eng.
In '97, I started working for a law firm. I told them that I didn't see working there as a career move. Coming out of consulting, I figured I'd get them straightened out in a year and be scratching around to look somewhere else. To give you an idea of where they were, they'd call in a VAR to move a computer from one attorney's office to another when someone left and they wanted to shuffle offices.
Apart from also bringing on board an entire real estate department from another firm (about 20 people) the day I arrived, and finding a Netware server that abended literally every night, I found that they'd tolerated emails taking 8 hour round trips. They'd send an email out and get an answer 8 hours later. I couldn't believe they'd tolerated that.
As I looked into the reason behind the 8 hour round trip, I discovered that the Netopia router they were using connected to the Internet every four hours for just a few minutes via DSL. So email would queue up for four hours, go out, and then the router would open up and let emails come in and send new emails out again before it shut down the connection. No, they weren't using the Internet yet for anything but sending and receiving emails!
I ended up at that firm through 2001 when it was bought by another national firm and then became IT Director of that firm until 2005 when I finally went back out to consulting. As of 2009, I'm back in law firm IT and expect to retire here. When I got to my current firm, I found their internal addresses were set using another very big company's Internet routable IP address range. The fun never stops!
Summer 1994. Fresh out of my first year of trade school in high school. Started to work with the family electrical company. They needed someone to start pulling Low Voltage. I like the idea of "Low Voltage". Less of a chance to fell the pain of 120v. We did work for a local hospital so they had just started to use Token Ring. They had a few other networks they used as well (Serial, Twinax, Coax) but we pulled miles and miles of that cable. Loved that stuff. Put a rope around it and pull. As long as you did not kink it the cable would work. Wonderful to think about how far things have come and how much they have changed. Love that I am in a place where I can be part of that.
Taking out Type 1 cable for fancy new CAT 5 or in some unlucky spots CAT 4 for those few months. Moving from Token to Ethernet.
There was also a short sting of ATM 25 to the desktop over fiber optics that thankfully fell to the wayside for faster ethernet. Segment assembly and reassembly fun on OC-12 network backbones to ethernet Split multi link-trunking fun.
I remember the days we struggled with serial port settings with the dial-up modem card to connect to the internet. And once it was connected, painfully watch the animation of bit by bit transfer of a 1MB file from the internet filling our local storage bucket. networking gear was a luxury.
How far we have come from Meraki in the old sense. 😄
Well a lot of stories above seems a lot of experienced people who used to work with so many legacy technologies. I worked with different technologies as well including X.25, Frame relay, ATM when working with Orange Business services.
I used to work as Support analyst there and worked with customers for troubleshooting issues and the most funny part is I was working across globe with some customers who used to talk in their native language and i dont know the language. They ask for something and i answered something else and situation became Tuff 😠 in the night time. The situation is like i would need a sleep for sure next morning.
I did two things , If customer knows some English, i always said, please send an email and i used to check on Google translate to find what customer says about the situation. Secondly as if the situation is like Sev 1 case, asking for interpreter to understand and resolve accordingly.
But i love that time when you trying to interact different people across the world and came to know about the their culture, voices, thought process for the issues and so on and learn a lot with these kinds of issues. It something like i thought then before any problem comes
Once talking to customer and explaining everything, its like
I also worked with one of the organization named " Tulip Telecom" closed now a days, Working on Various lease lines and wireless connectivity on the WAN. a tuff job, used to go customer location and set up antenna's towards your pop location to get the signals for the last mile.
All stories above are amazing and there always be a learning not just technology but the experience, people's emotions and though process. Thanks all for sharing your stories and thanks to @MeredithW for giving such a platform to express !
Wish everybody good luck for this contest !
I Remember when CISCO was Orange and TAN
AGS & IGS PLUS
First Networking was in service of Gaming.
My buddy and I both had some old 286s I had built for us both, and added NIC cards. We would go to each others houses each in turn lugging the old suitcase sized towers and then setup a direct patch cable between us and then spend the next hour both selecting the game and then setting the specific variables to ensure the NICs saw the data packets properly, were actively communicating and the game registered the other player for the network play.
A quarter of the time they games simply would not see each other till we got everything set up specifically right.
As we got better at it, we included several others and soon were playing Mechwarrior 1 and 2 (see below) in a LAN and working to figure out how to setup Internet supported gaming as that was so new it was a challenge converting LAN into internet connectivity and communication... still... many fun hours of Mechwarrior were played together in our mobile LAN setup depending on whose home we went to.
Wow!! A lot of old memories being shared here they die hard nostalgic and poetic. Show how passionate people feel about technology specially in our case networking.
It was around 2008 and I just landed my first full time networking job. Prior to my arrival, the company had replaced their analog phone system with a 100% VoIP solution using Shoretel. They were experiencing a lot of call issues between the main office and a call center that was about 1/2 mile away. They had a redundant network set up where the primary link was a line of sight radio connection with a T1 as a backup.
The primary line of sight radio was an antenna mounted on the top of the main office that shot to an antenna on top of a 20+ story building downtown. In what we called "the turret", there was a small 8 port switch that connected to a second antenna that shot down to the building where the call center was located.
I spent weeks working with Shoretel and Proxim (radio vendor). We replaced antennas, combed through the phone system looking for configuration issues, and even replaced that small 8 port switch, but nothing resolved the packet loss and voice quality issues.
Finally, I read the data sheet for the Proxim radio and found that it used "Time Division Duplex". For you kids out there, this is where for one period of time, the radio will send and for another period of time it will received, but it will never send and receive at the same time.
It's amazing what you learn if you just RTFM. 🙂
The first network I installed was in 1988. It was Novell Netware and used coaxial Ethernet. Life is so much better now!
In the fall of 1999 I started a new job as the Network Administrator for an animal feed manufacturer with 4 locations. Two of the locations were fairly remote, 1.5 to 2 hours away, and were connected by low speed leased lines as the connectivity was for dumb terminals to the AS/400. The closest location was 3 miles away, and was connected via a T1 as it housed the operations center and dispatch for feed truck delivery coordination and needed better and faster connectivity to HQ. If memory serves the T1 was about $1500/month.
After a bit (a lot) of research, I found a point-to-point wireless bridge that passed data at 20Mbps, I think. I don't remember the price, I just know that it paid for itself in a matter of months after disconnecting the T1.
The installation was the fun part. Being young (at the time) and adventurous, myself and a coworker ran Ethernet cable up an elevator shaft to the top of the mill closest to our HQ building. Now, this was not your typical hotel or office building elevator, this was a 4 x 4 metal box connected to a cable that you had to press and hold the switch to make it move and release when you wanted it to stop, and, it bounced a few times when it stopped which was a little frightening the first couple of times. The other mill didn't have an elevator, it required climbing up ladders mounted to the side of the mill to the top, putting the wireless equipment in a bag and using a pulley to hoist it up. The necessary cable was run down the side of the mill in conduit and into the mill's control room with a freshly drilled hole after a masonry bit was purchased and a hammer drill procured from the maintenance department. The conduit was then attached to the side of the mill on a windy day bouncing around in a basket on the end of a crane -- one of us held on to the building as best we could while the other screwed in the brackets that held the conduit in place.
Once it was physically installed, we split up with one of us at the top of each mill, pointed and aligned the radios, and somehow, some way, it worked.
I still drive by one of the mills as I live fairly close, and, while the wireless radio antennas have been replaced with newer models, I can see it from the road and it reminds me of that install.
My first internet connectivity solution to a SMB customer in the year 2000, bundled ( 28 kbps with dialup modem ) + Desktop.
Was a good experience.
I am Fernando from Africa - Angola, and is not so easy the company to investing on licencing technology like Cisco Meraki
First time I saw Meraki it was on 2015, and the other experience was in March, 2021 I had an online training and the opportunity to build some great Labs
it was so real and very helpful.
Next week I will have my first implementation and I hope you guys can be always here for any trouble
I was going to show a picture of a network drawing by hand but didn't get around to it.
Basically when trying to find a client on a network you don't know or you need to map a customers network we had to do the following to draw the network.
1) Hope CDP/LLDP is enabled everywhere and start by finding out the neighbors and then draw them on a piece of paper with the mac address, interface 🙂
2) Before hopping on to the next switch we always needed to do a mac address check on the interfaces to see if there were interfaces with more than 1 mac address and investigate if they weren't servers ( using OUI lookup for vmware or microsoft mac addresses ) or access points.
3) Then move onto the next switch and start over from point 1 🙂
Especially on networks where they didn't use any design this was harddddd workkkk.
With a Meraki network or at least partial you can now rely on the L2 topology to get mostly accurate info about the network topology 🙂
Before installing Meraki the switching network was mainly HP, with a few beefy chassis type switches described to me as the 'core'. There were around 50 switches in numerous locations around the site, and one was an old 8 port switch we found under a desk in the library gathering dust. The consultant working with us noted that 'core' must be the RSTP Root and all traffic would flow through the 'core', but upon inspection once we had a Meraki switch in place, it turned out that the RSTP Root was the aged 8 port library switch we had found and all traffic was going through that. Needless to say, the 9mb wireless speed test (on a 300mb line) improved to circa 260mb once we finished installing Meraki.
Being up on 12 feet poles in a remote village near Bucharest, 2003-2004 time, in the middle of the Winter, freezing cold, and some sleet showers . And after I'd get the cable in the junction I'd go in each of the vilagers house to connect the cable to a router and get them online. In the best days getting 7-8 houses connected, but there were plenty of days of spending a whole 8 hours on a single house. The teaching of what's a browser and email did take a big chunk of that time.
One of my first network memories is from the late 1990's when I was studying for a master's degree at a technical university in Sweden. When working on some network assignment on the university's good old Sun SPARCstation computers, we realised that each lab computer had a public IP address and appeared to be directly connected to the public internet. Puzzled by this we went to see the guy responsible for the campus network, who explained that he did not see any need for a firewall: with so many skilled and inquisitive computer wizards studying at the university, he was convinced that the biggest threat to his environment came from within rather than from the internet - so why bother installing a firewall? 😂
Man, I remember my first networking job many, many years ago...3Com 10/100 hubs that became 3Com 10/100 switches eventually.
One time, we had to manually trace out lines to figure out who went where on the switch when we realized the cabling vendor mislabeled the patch panel ports and the jacks at the desks around the office. THAT was some tedious work.
Back when being a network admin was just a pipe dream, it used to be a competition among techs to see who could image a computer cart the fastest.
My first step into networking was right around 2000 and being on-call for my company with about 120 locations connected with fractional 56k frame relay circuits. I would follow our flow chart to navigate through the Ascend Pipeline routers to perform the pings and other troubleshooting steps. Then, because the real networking guys were too busy, I was allowed to configure Cisco 1900 switches that were replacing our Hubstacks. Tabbing through the config and making changes to things I didn't know anything about like DNS, SNMP community, subnet masks, gateways, and changing the port duplex.
Fast forward about a year and I was given my first real networking experience....driving around to our now 150+ locations to upgrade our circuits from fractional 56k frame relay to T1 or fractional T1 lines. I had the highly technical job of swapping out the WIC in our routers and changing the configs. Again, I had no idea what I was doing, but I had the config changes on a USB drive! What's a DLCI? What the heck are time slots?
I especially remember being about 100 miles from our headquarters and discovering that the router required a v.35 cable and I wasn't given one. My co-worker at the main location asked if I could just run to the local Radio Shack and pick one up!
Fast forward about 6 months and my co-worker throws 2 Aironet 340s on my desk and says "the boss wants to see if these work. I'm too busy for this. It's supposed to be some sort of wireless connection, but they only connect at 11 megs...I'm not wasting my time on that!"
I would spend the next few years manually configuring and managing the wireless for my company - We started with WEP keys that the boss wanted to be different for each office, so we used a 40/64-bit key that was actually the phone number for each location! Unbeknownst to the boss, I anticipated a need for users to connect in different offices and built-in a 2nd 128-bit key that was the same for each office. And of course we were totally safe because we turned off broadcasting!
Back then we required all users to purchase a Cisco 350 card, so I also had to create an install disc for each office - each tech had a copy for their offices so they could just run the disc to install the drivers and settings for that office. Should a user need to connect at a different office we could walk them through changing to WEP key 2.
Each WAP was configured with a static IP and eventually, we had to set the channels manually. I remember many times troubleshooting wireless problems where users ended up just bouncing back and forth between WAPs....so I had to manually change the channels and occasionally adjust the transmit power on the WAPs. WAPs were installed in the cubicle areas of our branch locations and coverage was "best effort."
There was no heat map software back then, and all firmware was upgraded manually. I don't even want to remember the amount of time that was spent converting from VXworks to IOS. I spent many, many hours maintaining this network. Somewhere along the line we eventually got Cisco WLSE - as bad as it was, it saved me many hours of upgrading firmware on the close to 400 350/1200/1100 access points we had deployed. Eventually, we transitioned to LEAP.....and then to PEAP....along with ditching the Cisco card requirement and using Active Directory to push out wireless settings to our clients.
Of course, wireless took off and went from a luxury to a requirement. While trying to get everything right-sized and fully covered, we ditched Cisco products for another vendor that offered wireless controllers and made it much easier to manage and deploy. We eventually made it up to over 1000 access points in over 230 locations.
All of that wireless was daunting enough, but we were also manually managing Cisco switches in each location - probably close to 500 in total. All of that ran its course and after almost 10 years we made the switch to Meraki. We now have a nice dashboard to manage our 980 access points and 475 switches....life is a lot easier now!
It's amazing to think we've been using wireless for just about 20 years!
** sorry for the trip down memory lane...was digging through some old backup files and found my wireless folder!
Lost a cable? Let's comb the area!!
The first challenge my task was on internet provider with WLAN technology to connected site to site, that was 15 years ago before meraki famous like today. in that yeas we use variuos access point brand like vastvan, mikrotik, fullbond, waverider, motorolla canopy and other brand. The challenge was connected main office to branch office with distance about 20km line of sight. I was climb tower with 20meters high on my main office and other team climb tower about 25-30meter. Really excited when got "reply from x.x.x.x" and really sad got "request time out".
Finally after adjust antenna for more than half day main office and branch office connected with low latency ping and better throughput bandwidth, so that can deliver high bandwidth with smooth ping.
After this project finish we continue with playing "counter strike" game. 😀 to got relax.
Before coming to the Partner side, I started as IT support as a subcontractor for a school district in the late 90’s. I was the tech for “standalone” computers and there was another one who did the token ring computer labs.
The Story -
After several years things migrated to Ethernet and hubs. A few years later we deployed the first wave of Cisco Catalyst Switches. One of the switches failed and I was asked go swap it out. I unboxed it and setup the enable password etc. Then I asked my “Senior Network Engineer” if he wanted me to put an IP address on it. His response “nah, that’s just for management we don’t use that”
The closing -
Fast forward a few more years, the company I worked for was let go and I was hired as the Network Admin where I stayed for another 10yrs.
Final Thoughts -
hmmm, IP addresses for management who needed that?
Ahhh the days of BNC networking.... 10 meg half duplex and every few days you wandered the office trying to find the piece of furniture that has been dumped on the single cable breaking it and taking down the whole network! such fun days... oh and then there were the days when the end cap terminator failed on the cable and you had to try and source one coz the boss had stolen your 2 spares for his home lan. fun times!
I missed the "good ole days" of 5K modems and using CLI for everything so I can't speak of any stories that include that, but I do remember in high school (06-09) we discovered web proxies to get around the school firewalls. You could google Web Proxy and get a list of 20-30 proxies and basically you'd run through the list until you found one that worked. Nothing like brute forcing your way past a school firewall. We also discovered that each computer had the public folder and we would install the PC version of Halo on them. Knowing this and that each computer was connected to the LAN, we had huge LAN parties between classes with sometimes 20-30 people playing Halo on the school's network. The only way the Technology team discovered us doing it was because the Halo game was storing data locally and filling the computer's drive space up to the point where the computers were becoming unusable. It was so bad, they had to make an announcement about it... which stopped nobody.
Never underestimate the drive a bunch of kids in school have to play video games. They have nothing but time to try to break out and they definitely will! Ahh, the good ole days!
My company has kept 6 years of our network rack pictures so here is a time-lapse from 2017 to 2021 of how our care for network organization has developed over the years. We went from stacking everything on each other to a neat rack with a Meraki MX,MS,MR, & MG.
2015 - Yes, that is a gas line going to a furnace.
2017 - Ahh a new rack, multiple UPS units, a phone switch and clean cabling.
2021 - More cable organization, the MS 210 looking great, no more phone switch and an MG as the backup WAN2 for the MX. Full stack Meraki!
It has been a process, but things are looking much better than 2015!
😯Getting ISDN spoofing wrong and the customer complaining of a £££ $$$ bill 🤑
UPDATE: this contest has ended. Huge thanks to the community for sharing your networking stories from back in the day — we thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing with everyone! Congrats to our three randomly selected winners: @msimonton, @ivannavaq, and @AVLSOLUTIONS!