What is a Gopher?

© 2001 Walt Howe
(last updated 18 September 2004)

A gopher system is a simple menu based interface that can connect you to text files, downloadable binary files, file searches, telnet connections, or to another menu. The selections can be local or can link to any other gopher, web, telnet, or ftp site around the world. In a gopher system, you type a number or click on an icon to select the menu item you want. The first gopher was developed at the University of Minnesota, which until recently would link you to gophers from all over the World.

Gophers around the world used to be indexed by a search utility called VERONICA, but the various VERONICA servers, even when they were current were very busy and hard to connect to.

Gopher was the first easy to learn and use protocol that opened the Internet to everyone, until the massive growth in popularity of the World Wide Web in 1994 replaced the gopher as the leading interface for navigating the nets.

For more about gophers, see the Internet History and the Glossary.

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