In 1990 Intel introduced the 33-MHz 486 microprocessor (AT Technology). A reasonably nice computer cost between $1,500 and $2,500 with the average annual household income averaging $26,000. Old technology, the lowly XT, became very inexpensive. With an XT main motherboard costing about $60 you could assemble a single floppy drive computer with monitor, keyboard and modem for about $350. Cheap XT computers, an keen San Francisco sub culture, a thriving coffeehouse scene (pre Starbucks) were the ingredients for a facinating community of cyber-explorers, SF NET.

SFnet was an attempt to use simple communications technology to bring together two very different social milieus. The premise of the idea; Create a network that allowed the well-heeled home user to connect with the young hipster crowd that frequented the smoke filled coffeehouses in the San Francisco Bay Area. To do this we, 1) created a simple coin operated public access terminal and placed 25 of them in the rough and tumble cafe scene throughout the Bay Area, 2) maintained a small geographic foot print so that social interaction was possible 3) focused community energy to a public chat area that used a fast moving text interface that allowed for no visual clues as to who was speaking, 4) charged a nominal fee for cafe use in the hope that the home subscriptions would carry the cost of running the network, 5) allowed for a self-governing community by creating a set of community mechanisms and tools for rewarding positive and engaging communications.

Below is a portion of the attention that SFnet enjoyed thanks to the exciting community that blossomed around this rudimentary technology. See also wikipedia - Internet Cafe


Local Press

  SF Examiner
August - 1991
San Francisco
Noe Valley Voice
SF Chronicle
January - 1993
  SF Examiner
April - 1993
SF Examiner
January - 1995
Daily Republic
Solano County, CA
Silicon Valley
SF Chronicle
Herb Caen

National Press

  Washington Post
February - 1993
The Economist New York Times
January - 1991
September - 1993
October - 1993
  Entrepreneur Details Spy Magazine Glamour Seventeen

International Press

  focus (German)
April - 1994
Muy Interesante
Screen (German)
Info PC
  Computing USA ID Magazine FX Networks    

Notable Correspondence

  BBC News Show CA Senator Tokyo Talk Radio    

Industry Publications

  Communications Daily
Washington, DC
May - 1993

Cafe Promotional Brochures


Other Promotional Material

  SF Weekly Ad Early Logo SF Weekly Ad TableTop Promo