Early Forms of Synchronous Online Communication

Internet Relay Chat: IRC

Wikipedia: IRC 1988 (25 years old) (Web 1990 23 years old) Hobbes' Internet Timeline v8.2


undernet (1992) Server: irc.undernet.org Web Interface

EFnet what exists from the original service (1988)


Social status
Trading warez
Topical Conversation
Role/Game Playing


Windows: mIRC
Mac: Ircle
Mac: Colloquy


See: #Beginner - IRC Commands, the Basics

Interesting Uses of IRC

From: Internet as a dramatic medium

Taking it into theatre, using a chat-room-like technology (and IRC), Stuart Harris created an experimental theatre troupe: the Hamnet Players. After more than a year of preparation and experimentation, in December 1993, an international cast led by Harris performed an IRC adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The production appeared on computer screens around the world through an IRC channel coordinated from San Diego, California, and was repeated in February with Ian Taylor of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the title role. The second performance was enlivened by a bot, an automated program written to behave like a real user, which accidentally killed Hamlet halfway through the production. The inherent script-like quality of IRC and the use of direct speech as the main mode of communication are features which enhance the dramatic potential of text-based online communication. IRC shares the first of these features with MUDs and MOOs.

IRC, MUDs and MOOs are perfect for performers and audiences to mingle; the creation of the environment is a co-production between all who come to participate. The possibility to create text-based sets and objects that remain on the server for later use is what made MUDs and MOOs even more interesting than IRC as a venue for organized online performance.

Hamnet Players
Log of performance

Camarilla - IRC role playing
Server: /server irc.darkmyst.org
Channel: /join #cam-ooc

Play, Art and Ritual on IRC rainbows - ascii art