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FidoNet Star Wars Echo

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The FidoNet Star Wars Echo was a FidoNet "echomail" message forum distributed on bulletin board systems in the 1990s. Discussing George Lucas's Star Wars saga and pre-dating the modern Internet, it was one of the earliest influential forms of Star Wars on-line fandom.[1]

HistoryEdit

Founded on February 25, 1991 by Eli "Skip" Shayotovich, the Star Wars Echo quickly became one of the most popular forums within FidoNet. Launched a few months before The Thrawn Trilogy novels, the Echo was uniquely placed to become a focal point of online Star Wars fandom just as the Expanded Universe was coming into focus, and leading up to the announcement of Episode I and discussion of the prequel trilogy of films.[2]

Overall usage statistics are unknown, but it is known that the Echo received an average of 60 to 70 message posts per day between November 1994 and July 1995.[3]

Echo moderator Skip Shayotovich later served double-duty as president of the America Online Star Wars Fan Club (AOLSWFC) on AOL, but was unsuccessful in having his personal BBS, "Star Wars Central", officially sanctioned by Lucasfilm.[4]

The arrival of the Internet quickly eroded the use of BBS systems and FidoNet, but Echo members made the migration and created some of the most important early Star Wars fan websites. Naturally, some Echo members also became involved in the rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc (RASSM) newsgroup.

ContributorsEdit

Noteworthy participants in the Echo message forum included Star Wars authors Kevin J. Anderson (who included FIDO as a reference to FidoNet in Champions of the Force[5] ), Roger MacBride Allen, Brian Daley, Barbara Hambly, Shane Johnson, Vonda McIntyre, L. Neil Smith, Kathy Tyers, Tom Veitch, Daniel Wallace, Timothy Zahn, actress Cheryl De Luca, and occasional Lucasfilm representatives.[6]

Other participants included people who worked for West End Games (creators of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game), such as Sterling Hershey, and for Dark Horse Comics, such as Chris Gossett.[7]

Besides moderator Skip Shayotovich, other important fan contributors to the success of the Echo included co-moderators Brent Lynch, David Sentz, and Mike Schwab—along with Kevin Cox, Mike Farnham, Dave Thomer, and Mike Hollis, among others.

AchievementsEdit

In November 1994, the Echo launched a monthly newsletter/fanzine entitled Out of the Maw, which was also distributed on America Online and Prodigy. Echo member Rich Mason also compiled his own fanzine, entitled Starfighter Command.[8]

The Echo pioneered a parallel message forum devoted to playing Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game on-line.[9][10]

Due to the participation of early Star Wars authors, as well as people who worked for Lucasfilm, West End Games and Dark Horse Comics, Echo members have been credited with helping to flesh out some of the early Expanded Universe material.[11]

In late 1994, some members of the Echo attempted to compile a CD-ROM containing all of the Star Wars digital media—images, sound files, text documents, etc.—that were available online at that time (very little by modern standards). It was a non-profit endeavor, asking members to pay only the cost of the blank CD-ROM. However, when members approached Lucasfilm's licensing department for permission to create the CDs, that permission was denied, and the CD-ROM was never distributed.[12] This attempt by the fans did encourage LucasArts to create some early commercial Star Wars media compilations—such as Star Wars: Behind the Magic—and it was also the initial impetus for Lucasfilm to begin thinking seriously about how to interact with networked online fans, and to develop a strategy to deal with the protection of their intellectual property online.[13]

A letter from Shayotovich was printed in the comic book Dark Empire 1: The Destiny of a Jedi, which is now highly collectible. A letter from co-moderator Mike Farnham about the FidoNet Star Wars Echo was printed in Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 2.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Chris Knight (2001-05-09). In The Beginning… Star Wars Comes To A Wired World. TheForce.Net.
  2. Mike Schwab (Ed.) (1994-11-01). Out of the Maw (Vol. 1, No. 1). TheForce.Net.
  3. Mike Schwab (Ed.) (1995-12-01). Out of the Maw (Vol. 1, No. 2). TheForce.Net.
  4. Mike Schwab (Ed.) (1994-11-01). Out of the Maw (Vol. 1, No. 1). TheForce.Net.
  5. Dave Phillips (Ed.) (1995). "The Pen is Mightier than the Saber". Echo Station.
  6. Mike Schwab (Ed.) (1995-12-01). Out of the Maw (Vol. 1, No. 2). TheForce.Net.
  7. Sterling Hershey (2005-09-12). "Tangents and the Fidonet Star Wars Echo". Delusions of Grandeur.
  8. Mike Schwab (Ed.) (1994-11-01). Out of the Maw (Vol. 1, No. 1). TheForce.Net.
  9. Mike Schwab (Ed.) (1995-03-01). Out of the Maw (Vol. 1, No. 3). TheForce.Net.
  10. David O. Little (1999-03-06). The Phantom RPG Menace. Echo Station.
  11. Mike Schwab (Ed.) (1995-07-01). Out of the Maw (Vol. 1, No. 4). Star Wars Internet Archive. Archived from the original on April 15, 2003.
  12. Mike Farnham (Ed.) (1995-09-01). Out of the Maw (Vol. 1, No. 5). Star Wars Internet Archive. Archived from the original on December 25, 2004.
  13. Chris Knight (2001-05-09). In The Beginning… Star Wars Comes To A Wired World. TheForce.Net.

External linksEdit

  • The RASSM History Archive discusses the history of the Internet's rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc newsgroup, in which many Echo members played a part. (Since both groups were operating in parallel for a time, many of the debates and issues discussed on this site applied to the Echo as well.)
  • The Complete Star Wars WWW Listing (1996), a historical archive of links to early Star Wars websites, some of which were created by Echo members.

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