Using TurboGopher to Access HappyMacs Archive

I mentioned in my last post that perhaps the most “classic” way to access the HappyMacs software archive was to do so from a classic Mac, via the TurboGopher application.

TurboGopher About Screen

I have TurboGopher, which is a FAT binary, running on both my 68K Macs and my PPC Macs, and so it should work for any classic Mac you may have. I have tested it from Mac OS 7.6.1 onwards.

This post is a mini tutorial on how to access the HappyMacs gopherspace from TurboGopher, and how to set the default font in TurboGopher so that the HappyMacs gopherspace renders nicely on your Mac.

Default Font and Size

Let’s start with the default font. Like many gopherspaces, the HappyMacs gopherspace uses some ASCII art to make the site a bit more visually attractive. In order for this art to render properly, it is key that the Gopher client (TurboGopher in this case) uses a fixed width font. I have settled on the Monaco font for no particular reason other than that I like the way it looks, but you can use any fixed width font that appeals to you. However, all the screen shots below feature Monaco.

To set up Monaco as the font to render gopherspaces with, go to the Gopher menu in TurboGopher, as shown below:

1 - TurboGopher Prefs

From the Preferences dialog, drop the Other Preferences list in the middle of the window and select Default Font & Size, as shown below:

2 - Default Font, Size

Now navigate the font and size list to select Monaco 12, as demonstrated below:

3 - Monaco 12

When done, the result should look like this:

4 - Resulting Screen

Accessing HappyMacs Archive

Now that you have the default font and size set properly, accessing the HappyMacs gopherspace is a breeze. Once more go to the Gopher menu in TurboGopher and select Another Gopher, as shown below:

1 - Another Gopher

In the resulting dialog, type in “”, as demonstrated below:

2 -

If all is well, you will be greeted with the following display of the HappyMacs gopherspace:

3 - Resulting Screen

That’s it! Note that the image of the classic Macintosh, and the “Welcome to HappyMacs” banner are both examples of the ASCII art I mentioned above.

Bookmarking the HappyMacs Archive

One last thing. All of us live in the modern age, even if we have a certain fascination with vintage Macintoshes and MacOS, and so we are attuned to the idea of web browser bookmarks. Wouldn’t it be nice to bookmark the HappyMacs archive so that you did not have to type in the address every time you wanted to access it? Well happily, TurboGopher lets you do just that, although it is not entirely obvious how to do this until you have walked through it the first time. So… let’s walk through the procedure here.

When you start up TurboGopher, it presents two windows – the Home Gopher window and the Bookmark Worksheet. This later window is the bookmark list that we want to work with. By default it comes preset with a number of what were helpful gopher links back in the late 1990s. These days, they are all dead links, and need to be replaced with more current ones. Let’s add the HappyMacs archive to the list, and then delete all the others.

To do this, follow the procedure above to arrive at the HappyMacs gopherspace site. Next, position your cursor on the window’s top bar and type Opt-c. This copies the gopherspace’s URL to an internal copy/paste buffer. Now, position your cursor on the top bar of the Bookmark Worksheet window, click once and type Opt-v. This pastes your HappyMacs gopherspace URL into the bookmark list. Finally, to get rid of the preloaded and now dead links, position your cursor on each of them, one by one, click once, and type Opt-x. This deletes them, one by one. When done, you should be left with just the HappyMacs gopherspace in your list.

Bookmarking the Floodgap Systems Gopherspace

There is one other site you might wish to add. I think of it as the father of all current gopherspaces – I have made it my Home Gopher in TurboGopher. is the gopherspace of the same Floodgap Systems people who bring you the Overbite plugin for Firefox and act as the general champions of Gopher in today’s world. You can follow a procedure similar to the one for arriving at the HappyMacs gopherspace to get yourself to the Floodgap gopher page and then add it to your bookmarks list. You may also wish to make it your Home Gopher, which you can do by editing the Home Gopher definition, available as the first selection in the Preferences dialog under the Gopher menu of TurboGopher.

4 - Resulting Screen

Editing Gopher Bookmarks

One more “last thing”! Like any good bookmark, you can rename TurboGopher bookmarks to anything you want as opposed to having the actual URL show up in the list. To do this, highlight the bookmark of interest, go to the Gopher menu of TurboGopher and select Edit Gopher Descriptor, as shown below:

1 - Edit Descriptor

In the resulting screen, type in the name of your choice in the Title section of the editing screen, as demonstrated below:

2 - Editing Screen

I did this for both HappyMacs and Floodgap, and here is my current Bookmarks Worksheet:

3 - Resulting Screen

…and that really is it for this TurboGopher tutorial!

Happy Gophering!



A Little More on Gopher

Picture 1

There was an unusually strong response to my last post on the Gopher-based software repository at gopher:// I don’t know if this was simply a reflection of interest in new sources of vintage Mac software, or perhaps was an expression of latent longing for the long past glory days of Gopher, or perhaps something else entirely. No matter what it was though, I thought I would follow up my last post with a little more information on Gopher.

I have spent some time digging into native Gopher clients for Mac OS, Mac OS X, and even some of the older Windows platforms. This was a fruitful exercise and turned up a rich set of available Gopher clients, all of which continue to work well today. Unlike the underpinnings of today’s web, the Gopher protocol has remained largely unchanged, and that means that unlike yesterday’s long-in-the-tooth web browsers, the Gopher clients of days gone by continue to work well today (are all Gopher clients long-in-the-tooth by definition? 🙂 ).

Pretty much all of the clients I found can be downloaded from just one wonderfully comprehensive web page (Offbeat-Internet) which lists Gopher clients for just about every vintage computer OS known to man. See the page below:

In short, here is what my search for Gopher clients unearthed:

> Mac OS 7.x and forward. TurboGopher was (and remains) the golden standard. I installed TurboGopher and used it to surf gopherspace, and I can report that it works very well (more on that below). Honorable mention goes to NetScape Navigator 4.7, which supports the Gopher protocol natively. Finally, today’s Classilla 9.3.2 supports the Gopher protocol natively as well.

> Mac OS X Tiger. Clearly TurboGopher and NetScape can be used in Classic mode, and this may be the best option. Native Gopher support in Mac OS X 10.4 seems limited to the weirdly unusual Gopher VR, a title that defeated my best efforts to install it and run it successfully. Thankfully, per my earlier post on the software repository, the OverBiteFF plugin for Firefox, which works very well with TenFourFox, imparts Gopher capability to that fine browser, yielding usable Gopher support via that avenue. Finally, I stumbled across a “new” old browser for Mac OS X 10.4 that also supports the Gopher protocol natively: OmniWeb. OmniWeb will be the topic of a separate post – I am SO impressed with it.

> Windows 9x (Windows 95, 98 and ME). I would guess that few readers of this blog will be all that interested in Windows 9x Gopher support, but since I also have a healthy collection of vintage PCs, I thought I would throw this in for completeness. WSGopher32 was the Windows 9x PC equivalent of the Mac’s TurboGopher. It was THE golden standard. There were lots of other Gopher clients for the vintage PC world, but I will not elaborate on them here. Check out the Offbeat-Internet page above. You will find several listed there.

I will however elaborate just a little bit more on TurboGopher, which I tested under Mac OS 9.1 on my Power Macintosh 7300/200.

TurboGopher About Screen

As you might expect with a name like “TurboGopher”, this program is fast. It launches quickly and pages load smoothly and easily. The program features a very nice Finder-like interface, with each new page opening in a new window, neatly resolving the “how do I go back to the previous page” question that haunted several of the other Gopher clients I tried out.

Gopher is 100% text based, and any Gopher hole author who is feeling even the slightest bit creative quickly starts adding ASCII art to their pages to give them some visual interest. Because of this, it is VERY important to set TurboGopher’s preferences such that it uses a fixed width font. ASCII art does not look like art at all, nor like much of anything else really, when viewed with the default proportional font that TurboGopher starts up with. Fix this by going to TurboGopher’s preferences and setting the default font to a fixed width one. I chose Monaco 12, as you can see below.

TurboGopher Preferences

So, what do Gopher pages look like when viewed through a “best-in-class” Gopher client? Below I show two Gopher pages as rendered by TurboGopher. The first is the page mentioned in my previous post, and the second is the current reigning home page of all gopherspace, Gopher Page

Floodgap Gopher Page

So that’s it – The world of Gopher is alive and well and you can be part of it. Just download one of the Gopher clients from the Offbeat-Internet repository, sharpen your two front teeth and head off into gopherspace!