Chris and baby Jake

Chris and Jake in 1993, when modems filled the family garage.

More Memories from our 30-year History

In the late 1980s and 1990s, when Cruzio’s founders started offering dial-up connections, people connected to us over phone lines.

It seems primitive today, and jury-rigged. It was! We were using the tools available to us — and luckily the breakup of Ma Bell had freed people to use the infrastructure as we pleased. Fax machines, voice mail, and the internet resulted.

(Telecom monopolies have been reassembling in the 2000s, like some sort of Death Star, but that’s another topic…)

Sharing a phone line with the internet was kind of a drag, because when you connected to the internet you couldn’t make a phone call on the same line. And people used to use their landline telephones a lot more, since many didn’t have the internet and nobody had smart phones.

Lots of problems ensued, mostly intergenerational: older people got furious because the phone was busy for hours and hours while a kid in the house was playing a multiuser game on the computer. Even then, the internet was a huge time suck.

What if You Were the ISP?

In the Cruzio family household, founders Chris and Peggy had it worse than most because their house was the site of several modem servers which made loud modem noises all day and night. Every time a customer connected to Cruzio, the servers would screech and crackle. The equipment was in the attached garage but could be heard throughout most of their small house.

Boing, boing, boing. Crrrrrrr. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Add to this the alarms Chris set to go off whenever equipment faltered. Loud shrieks rang through the little house, waking everyone in the family as Chris valiantly rushed to repair whatever had gone wrong.

Cruzio’s founders knew from the start that the internet is a 24/7 responsibility 365 days a year. People rely on it. And when you host it in your house, you’re going to notice it. All night long.

Things got even worse after the Cruzio babies were born. Any problem with the internet service was immediately followed by a cascade of sound effects: the alarm shrieking, Mom and Dad yelling expletives, babies wailing.

That’s how you ran a startup ISP in 1992.

It’s Different Now

Luckily, Cruzio — maybe because of the valiant efforts — attracted enough customers to become a real business. When Cruzio moved to a downtown office building in 1994, great joy, and much more sleep, ensued.

And our world in 2019 — with its wifi and blue tooth, phones that play movies and fit in our pockets — looks very different now. The babies are grown up. But Cruzio still answers alarms any time there’s a problem with our internet service, any time of day or night.