The Creeping Network was the work of the guy on the internet now known as CreepingNet. It was started a little after his 18th birthday actually on the original Geocities, somewhat out of anger because his attempts to procure an inexpensive work computer for working with his band and finding a job was proving to be a major roadblock and frustration, and he was slowly discovering, on his own, through tinkering with computers with little to no help, that a lot of stuff the "modern" computer industry was throwing at him at the time, including a system administrator, a few I.T. professionals in his social circle, and a couple hardcore gamers, was total bullshit. As any angry metal musician with an I.T. slant would do, he learned HTML, and began to code his own website to mention all the things he was doing with these machines (albeit kind of sporadically and sometimes not always completing everything).
Pre-Creeping Network (
CreepingNet started his time with computers as a kid in the late 1980's going to school in a school system where IBM Products were the standard. Spending most of his time using computers in school for things like writing English projects, drawing the login screens for the servers using IBM LinkWay, and surfing the early internet. He lived in a "split" family where the richer half gave his two older siblings a Tandy 1000 SX and a 386 DX system for college. It was through these two PC's he would get aclimated with DOS, and DOS PC games, in a time when most homes did not have a family PC. However, it was not the 24/7/365 access that most normal "geeks" would have, so he had to work with his limited time.
By 1996, a neighborhood friend, Jonahthan, let him know of the Auburn Draughton Library where they had FREE internet access there, and unlocked PC's you could just walk up to to surf the web. Every weekend CreepingNet would hit up Crossroads Music and the Auburn Guitar Shoppe, and then go to Tiger Town, buy some 3.5" floppies, and proceed to go on a downloading spree in between massive amounts of research on guitars, computers, and old video games. It was through there he built a heavy skillset using a Web Browser to find a whole manner of obscure, rare, weird, and strange things on the internet.By 1997, AU got a clue and locked the computers down, and around the same time, CreepingNet got the Tandy 1000 SX that he had grown up playing the text adveture "Microsoft Adventure" on - so started the path down the trail to I.T. First off running that Tandy 1000 til lthe programmable interrupt timer died, then proceeding to cobble together a franken-PC using parts off of street curbs (mostly Packard Bell stuff) using a motherboard from a family friend named Larry who had exited the picture early on. And then, on his 18th Birthday in 2001, he obtained the computer that would become Creeping Net 1).
The Early Years - 2001-2003
On Febuary 9th 2001, CreepingNet got his first Windows compatible PC, a 1992 Flight 386 SX, featuring a 25MHz 386 SX CPU, 5MB of RAM, 124MB Maxtor 7120AT Hard Disk, Paradise VGA card, Goldstar I/O cards, an Addonics MON7C4B CRT monitor, and a Chicony 5661 AT/xT switchable keyboard. This was the computer that became Creeping Net 1.
The original intent of Creeping Net 1 for me - yeah, I'm going to quit talking in 3rd person now - was not to have a "retro computer" - it was just to have a computer that was affordable for the purpose of talking to my bandmates on AOL instant messenger, and to get around the problem of Auburn University locking the library PC's down to only students (I still did not get paid for that not-for-profit Porn-Janitor job I self appointed myself to - I wiped many a AU PC of night-staff downloaded porn in the morning so I could go peruse Atari 2600 sites for textfiles to read at Cheeburger Cheeburger during lunch). Basically, all I wanted was a PC that could get on the internet, and at the time, it was thought that the lowest you could go was a 486 - so I had that, the 486 DX-33 motherboard from my frankenPC project.
Basically, I wanted a 486 that had Windows and could get on the internet. An "affordable" (ie FREE) Daily driver. That's it. The problem was, it was 2001, and people were still convinced at the time that "old computers can't do crap", so I had to deal with a lot of people, including so-called "Industry Professionals" telling me all sorts of horse hockey about "You can't put a 486 on the internet" or "it won't run Windows 95 well" or "you need Windows 95 to surf the web - at least" or "you need a Pentium for that!". This is where I gained a huge disdain of computer industry types, and started getting angry. The final straw came on a sunday when I decided to partake in my first motherboard replacement - by putting tha tmotherboard Larry gave me in the Flight. Once I was done, I powered on the computer, all I got was a blank screen. I called 4 computer shops in the area and all but ONE laughed me off the phone. Duncan Services was the last one, the guy told me ONE thing in 5 minutes that helped me fix my problem "make sure the red stripe is toward pin 1" - well....turns out I had the Hard disk cable backwards - that's all that was wrong.
Over the next six months, Creeping Net 1 grew from a 486 DX-33 used for DOS games, into a souped up 486 DX4-100 powerhouse with Windows 3.1, 56K V-90 faxmodem on AOL, and was running Emulators and games, and had a printer. It was like a regular daily driver PC.
However, I thought this would be the only computer, until I had a job and could afford a newer, better machine. Nope, everyone noticed I was actually ENJOYING my hardcore tinkering with computers, and started offering up all their old machines to me to "give em' a good home" or at least "get this junk outta' my house". Over the spand of 2001, I got three more PC's: Creeping Net 2 (GEM Computer Products 386/20), Creeping Net 3 (IBM PC-330 100DX4 T/C 6571-W5K), and Creeping Net 4 (Kat's Puter', a classic AMD Am5x86 PR75 133MHz 486 powerhouse with a Biostar MB8433UUD Motherboard).In 2002, the madness continued with a bandmate of mine. At the time we were looking to be career rock musicians. However, I already had people, that person included, telling me I should take the CompTIA A+ exam, which I chickened out on taking for awhile because I felt I just was not up to the task at the time. Every time I thought I knew enough to be an "I.T. Guy" something would knock me down. First it was networks, then it was Windows 9x infrastructure stuff like the binary registry or dealing with various DOS commands from within Windows to fix stuff. Then it was setting up my own DUN connection for internet over mFire. I built a skillset stupid fast - going from a Good-Enough Graduate without any college prospects to being almost on a pro-level with some intermediate level IT techs in a short span of 3 years. During that time, we were pickup up computers everywhere - everyone was dumping off their Pre-Pentium hardware: in the woods, thrift shops, street curbs, private schools, anywhere that had old PC's, we were rackin' and stacking them up. Many of these machines are hopefully still out there today in the hands of collectors, as by 2003 rolled around, and oru friendship and band dissolved, I was already rebuilding and reselling old pre-Pentium PC's on E-bay for really respectable prices at the time. By this point, I was taking the original Creeping Network Website more seriously.
Early Career & The Dawn of the "Retro PC" - 2003-2008
Prior to 2003, Pre-Pentium IBM Compatibles, aka "DOS Boxes", were seen as "old" - not "vintage", not "classic", just OLD. They were often referred to as "boat anchors", "dinosaurs", and "doorstops" (and often used as the latter too). People did not want them. The "standard" of the day was a Pentium III or Pentium 4 PC running Windows XP or Windows Millennium Edition at the oldest. But I wanted to fight to keep these ancient machines going because I could afford them, and felt I was not the only one.
Around this time, the 386 Experience page showed up, giving me a glimmer of hope that these machines would someday be seen as something more than just someone's old "junk". At this point I started building a bit of a legendary reputation at my job as a dishwasher of being able to upgrade, repair, build, and fix PC's so that they ran their best, regardless of age. As I continued doing this, the collection grew to include 286's, 8088's, even some real vintage stuff like a nice new-in-box TI-99/4a and a Commodore 64 at one point. I expanded into Macintosh, and go tmy first laptop - a Twinhead Slimnote 486 - in 2003. It seemed like I was stocking up to either start a Beowulf Cluster of Pre-Pentium hardware, or make mad bank on a collection if someone went back then to now. AT my greatest - I had THIRTY TWO computers at my childhood home in the shed, the majority working and booting some O/S whether that was DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 98 Se, Linux, Windows 95, NT - it was wild.
I also started cross pollinating standards, developing my own underground "form factor" in 2003 when I case-modded Creeping Net 2 to make what was originally just a joke a reality - I turned it into an mATX Pentium III. "The GEM" as it was then most often referred to, took over as my main PC, and I was watching as the "retro computer" thing started to apply to early 8086/8088/286 iron on e-bay.
My First Ever major make/model Research Project was in 2003, researching the early Compaq Deskpro 8086/286/386 systems (before they were redesigned into what my 386s/20 looks like). I started work on, but never completed, an entire page dedicated to those systems.
In 2004, I started obtaining my certifications, quit my job as Dishwasher, and started doing I.T. Jobs, starting with a contract position refreshing a Plumbing Supply warehouse in Georgia with a team of 10 or so. Now I truly had something to "fall back" on. This gave me income, which gave the more fluidity - paried with my flipping old machines - to do more experiments, tweaking, tuning, and seeing how to adapt modern PC hardware to aging Pentium and older machines.
YouTube & The Dawn of Retro - 2005-2008
In 2005 I relocated to Seattle and started collecting systems again upon getting my first apartment. During that time, I had put my music thing on hiatus - at the very least - because I was focusing on getting a steady career going in I.T. I found in Seattle, vintage computing with IBM PC hardware was still really cheap at the time. I could go to any one of the ton of thrifts between Arlington and Tacoma and snag up piles and piles of PC's for cheap like I could only periodically do in Alabama. During this time, I got really hard into 8088 and 286 hardware. I built my second XT system, hopped up the GEM 286 a lot, and started snagging more 486 systems like water after awhile. I also got my first serious laptop - an IBM ThinkPad 755CD, which I legitimatley used for work, particularly during refreshes doing inventory using Open Office Sheets running on Windows 98 SE dual boot with DOS.
Also in 2005, I started my YouTube Channel and began planning to create a computer channel, as I was using the "CreepingNet" moniker, instead of my stage name. However, I started doing Guitar videos and that became my thing, so the whole computer idea went out the window. That did not mean I did not try, I did some of the earliest YouTube videos on retro PCs on YouTube before they were called that, such as an AST 386, and a IBM PS/2 model 30 that I found at a thrift that were like brand new. I would find computers at thrift shops and basically show them off. But I felt like, I was the only one, and getting 52 hits for a video on computers, vs getting 52,000 hits on a video with a guitar, I kept more with the guitar stuff. So I slowly stopped caring about computer videos and focused on guitar. That got me back in bands and I stopped doing as much "retrocomputer" stuff.
However, as I thought this died off - doing a massive GIVEAWAY to a VCFED user in 2009, for free (huge loss), I just sort of walked away, I eventually liquidated much of the collection in 2011, down to about 4-5 systems again. I was asking myself "why am I doing this"? Because it just seemed vintage IBM Compatibles were never going to be interesting enough to anyone but me. And when you have a collection so big you can't even give a good reason to keep the systems you have, then you liquidate, and move on.
Reboot & Retry - 2012-2018
In 2012, my one 486 system broke in a fight with the wife - she slammed it off my desk in a rage. So I got myself a new motherboard for xmas and built what would become the computer that would be a massive contribution to my return - Creeping Net 486. An Amaglamation of everything I had learned over the past decade to that point. Life was changing, I'd dropped my animosity with Microsoft products and now WORKED for Microsoft, as Windows 7 was an excellent product, and so was XP. And I spent the next 4-6 years building up Creeping Net 486 to be the true ultimate 486. The case was from P2000MMXT/XTII, motherboard came from a VCFED user, the parts were sourced from my parts pile, and slowly I started grabbing more parts from RE-PC. Now we had a machine that has, even to this day post-retirement of the website, bested every machine I have ever created. It could run any O/S, it was a retro-box, tweener, and legacy-daily-driver - all rolled into one.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'd kept a couple other machines, GEM 286, and the Tandy 1000A to be exact. And I spent the next several years tuning and tweaking those computers to be the best they could ever be. I revisited my roots in 2016 by gifting a friend a Gateway 2000 P5-100 I foudn in a thrift shop as a moving away present. He still has that machine to this day.It was in 2018 I relocated to a less glamourously portrayed place. Seattle was slowly sinking, goign downhill, with a new, what I like to call "Transplant Culture" where people were wanting to convert it into a regular Millennial Hipster commercial metropolis, rather than appreciating the unqiue culture that was a part of why I moved there. It seemed counter-intuitive because Seattle is a literal tech capital, with even our famous YouTubers there like MetalJesusRocks, and to the south of us in Portland, Adrian's Digital Basement, and of course David Plummer being around. But I just could not stand the sanctimony of my own generation, the bleak outlook on the cost of living, and the cycle of IT within a company being what it was, I wanted to start over, elsewhere. And with that came yet another purge, and another restart - somewhat.
The Final Years - 2018-2022
In 2018, I relocated, joined my last "band" (that went by many names), and spent the next few years researching and focusing on various other vintage computer equipment off/on. Most of the focus was on the band though, until 2020 came and the COVID-19 Pandemic + an ill spouse put the kibosh on me doing any band stuff.
In mid 2019, prior to the pandemic, I'd gained a taste for vintage NEC Versa laptops and started researching and documenting those hardcore for my google-sites version of this site, eventually moving all the info to the Neocities site in 2021-2022ish. I was looking for a way to lay in bed and play DOS games while tending to my Wife.
Also during that phase, I met a colleague who was moving and needed to get rid of some 386/486/SS7 systems, so I took him up on it, this was in 2021, and those would be among the last systems. Among the lot included a very prized Compaq Deskpro 386s/20 with a rare IBM Blue Lightning 16K L2 Cache upgrade chip in it (basically a 486 SX4-75 CPU - part of the Evergreen "RevTo486" kit - very cool).In late 2022, after a brief time researching NanTan machines again as I could find a lot more information on them, I decided it was time to quit with the accumulation as I approached my 40th birthday. It was just becoming too much of a timesuck to take care of so many machines - new and old - and I needed to free up time to actually ENJOY using them, rather than spending all my time bringing some old PC back to life in the configuration that I wanted.
Retirement - 2022-Present
In 2021 I started my CreepingNet's World website to start de-google-fying my life a bit more. I had also started this site at Geocities.WS in 2019. AS I found limitations in Neocities regarding hosting files for free, and here was always a little, uh, not my norm - I restarted this site here, first as a repository, now as sort of a....not really a tombstone...but sort of liek the final resting place for "The Creeping Network". It has been 2 decades and a lot of things have changed.
For starters, there's TONS of us on the internet doing this. There's a facebook group, my vintage computer instagram photos get a lot of hits, Vintage Computer Forums now is a "Federation" and has a more officiated position, VOGONS now focuses more on running old hardware than running Very Old Games on Newer Systems as the acronym was used as. LGR, 8-bit Guy, Adrian Black, Phil's Computer Lab, Retro Recipies, and so on all continue to thrive ono YouTube. Me, I've latched onto being more the punk-rock DIY'er of the scene - because that's how I started, and that's how it should...not end, but be reborn on my other page. I'm the lo-fi, low-budget variant working on shoestrings and cast-off stuff. But there's no point anymore, it's now about me talking about what I'm having fun with, not talking about how you can use a 486 as a modern system (though you still kinda' can through the magic of modern DOS applications, lol).So this year, I decided this page would be my final "resting place" for "The creeping Network" name, and to provide a secondary "mirror" resource for all my downloads from the Neocities site, as I have accumulated a LOT of files, some rather hard to get, since 2001, and for once, I'm finally finishing my retro-PC stuff off, instead of half-starting things, then getting sidetracked.