The Magick Net Story
By Harold Miller
In September 1995, there were several of us at Rogue Community College who were actively involved in Bulletin Boards. You had to pay long distance charges back then to dial into a server, even if it was in the next county. Together we formed the Josephine County Internet Council and met at RCC once a week to figure out how we could get the Internet into Josephine county.
Several members of JCIC, along with an unexpected $5,000 gold VISA card, came together in a ‘perfect storm’. RCC allowed us to use a small closet in the basement of the downtown Grants Pass Small Business Development Center building for our equipment. I purchased 10 2400 baud modems, and a 486-DX4/100mhz PC that we used as our main server running Linux. My wife JC ran the office, taught Web design, and even created web pages for our customers. Next we came up with a business plan. If we had 100 paying customers, splitting 10 customers to each modem, we could get free internet! US West (the phone company) leased us a 64K frame relay connection. The race was on.
We started in the garage with a few volunteers who just wanted to be a part of the internet. All of our employees’ email addresses were the characters from the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon show.
Business took off a lot faster than we expected it to. In the last week of 1995 we knew we had to turn this into a real company. Working with Roger Harding from the SBDC, we drew up a business plan and started selling Internet access. In early 1996 I woke up in the middle of night with the name, Magick Net. Magick stood for Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass, Illinois Valley, Central Point and Klamath Falls which were the communities we wanted to serve. Magick Net, inc. was set up as “C” corporation with Noel Paul Stookey (from Peter, Paul and Mary), Roger Harding and several of the Magick Net employees as board members.
Over the next two years we added “pops” (point of presence, where the modems lived) to expand from Grants Pass, to Cave Junction, Medford, and Klamath Falls. I hired Sales people, including Cal Calhoun our main SysOp in March 96. We did yearly company customer appreciation picnics and it was fun for our customers to meet Boris, Natasha, Rocky and Bullwinkle.
In September of 1997 each employee was given a block of stock, and the rest sold to Wizzards Internet in Roseburg who merged the two companies together as Wizzards/Magick Net. Since then they have been acquired by Peak Internet. Magick Net had 7 full time, 5 part time employees and 6 volunteers at the time I stepped down. We had grown rapidly to about 1,500 customers.
We were serious about getting the internet to everybody, especially rural Oregon. Those were interesting times, and I got to meet wonderful people here in Southern Oregon.
Later, I continued with my consulting firm “Solid Solutions”, did some stuff for the DoD, and then decided to be in SOU’s Computer Security program. I earned my degree (Class of 2005) and worked with folks like Priscilla Oppenheimer, afterwards even teaching a few classes. Next my wife and I lived on a sailboat for a couple of years, sailing to Mexico on the 40 ft. sloop Sea Bear. Upon my return I worked at Red Hat, supporting the same Linux that gave us our start at Magick Net (OPEN SOURCE!) Today I’m fully retired in Kentucky and loving it.
Life is good.