Best Buy buys Speakeasy

It’s strange for me today to see the announcement that Best Buy has purchased Speakeasy, a Seattle-based Internet Service Provider.
I’m happy for the owners of Speakeasy, I’m sure they’re quite happy about the acquisition, and I hope they see the financial rewards for their years of hard work. For me it brings some memories, as it was the Speakeasy Cafe who hosted our equipment for the Seattle People’s Internet Co-Op (spi.net, at the time). Back in 1994, a group of thirteen Seattle-based Internet addicts teamed together to purchase the equipment necessary for always-on net connections to their homes via analog modems – it was the Speakeasy Cafe who hosted our equipment in their basement and attached it to their T1 line. At the time, the Speakeasy Cafe was setting out to be a place people could go to have a drink, a coffee, surf the net, and catch a cool local band. I really enjoyed that place.
Spi.net has been disbanded for years, but I’ll always fondly remember working with the folks at Speakeasy. The cafe burned down in 2001 (fondly remembered here) and was unfortunately never rebuilt… by that time the Speakeasy’s net business was growing quickly. Even after I moved to the San Francisco area, I continued using Speakeasy for my net service just out of allegiance to them – and they were always extremely helpful if you knew your tech. It was only recently that I switched to the more local sonic.net, when I found they could provide me with higher data rates at the same price.
It is an interesting evolution to see… from Internet as something used purely by academia, to Internet used by entrepreneurial garage hackers (one of our spi.net guys founded F5 during the dotcom boom), and now Internet as a nearly essential service used by almost everyone. Even back when I first hooked up my always-on Net connection in 1994, I found that I never wanted to turn off the computer. I was always heading to the machine to look something up in the dictionary, find a local restaurant, check the weather, etc. These days… well, it isn’t really any different. hahahahhaha 🙂