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One of the "original two" MC net servers, a long-time complement (and sometimes rival) to the York server: named after the company on whose site the server was written - [Delphi Internet]. Also named "Camden Lock" because that was the name of Delphi's online magazine, which is where the MC server found a temporary home in 1996. Code written mostly by [Yoram "Yoz" Grahame], who says, "It was among the first Perl I ever wrote, and as such it's painfully awful. Please don't look at it."

In early days, the Delphi server appears to have attempted to present an active contrast to York in many ways, and to be a more "bells-and-whistles" kind of site, compared to the simplicity of the York interface. The front page included a rather fine sepia-style photograph of Mornington Crescent itself, and Delphi was also the first MC website to represent the list of games as a series of stops along the Northern Line (with an extra terminus for an archive of old games, and a branch line for "other stuff" like MC-related links, a library of resources, and profiles of players.) It also included a chat forum that was presented in the form of threaded topics - something that has never been copied since by any other MC-related website.

Unfortunately, this bells-and-whistles approach also allowed room for considerably more bugs, some of which were never quite entirely fixed: especially after Yoz left Delphi Internet in the autumn of 1996, leaving behind only two people with partial administrative access to the site - neither apparently with "full" access, which would have required membership of the original company, which meant that the replacement maintainers could do little more than create and terminate games and only fix minor bugs.

The server shut down, without warning, some time during late autumn 1997. About six weeks or so later, it reappeared, *without* the extensive archive of games (both the continuing and the completed) but with all its other resources. Every week or two thereafter, it would disappear once again, only to reappear a couple of days later as if nothing had happened, until about halfway through the following February it vanished for good. Some people prefer the "prosaic" explanation, that the new company that had bought the parent website wondered what the hell it was, and decided just to get rid of it because it was taking up wasted space: others point to the fact that somebody had played no less than three Podumes of Infinite Darkness on the station of Mornington Crescent itself in the Long Game (!!!). One of these was successfully destroyed, a second is rumoured to be imprisoned in the base of the Lock Cup (of which the first ever challenge match was held here), but the third was merely shunted "out of the way" and is believed to have returned (and, indeed, to have showed up again on [Pants MC]? in at least one game.)

The result of this was to cram all the players together on to the one existing server at York. Now, since there had been relatively little crossover between the various populations for some time (only a few people ever played concurrently on BOTH servers, and only a few ever switched from one to the other), and contrasting playing styles and conventions had developed, this naturally led to arguments - not helped by the fact of there being too many people, and in particular too many egos, in too small a space. The end result was that not one but two more MC servers sprang up, MCiOS and [Pants MC]?, the latter of which was intended at one stage to be pretty much a Delphi replacement. Fortunately, all the arguments are long over now, and the respective player bases pretty much integrated across all the surviving servers, so this sort of argument is unlikely to happen again.

Some time during about 2002 - by which time the York server had been moved, wholesale, to the "Madeira" machine at UCL - one of the players encountered, in real life, none other than Yoz: who turned out to still possess an old backup (dating back to September 1996) of the site, pretty much "frozen in time". This backup was installed at the Madeira website (not in a playable form, although the archives could be browsed). However, when Madeira closed, the surviving Delphi archive appears to have also gone. Yoz still has the original 1996 archive and will make it available to any server operator who asks.

Perhaps the greatest achievement on the Delphi site was the beginning of the Ruttsborough revival - assisted mainly by a Canadian-based enthusiast, "Dr. Lock", who also donated the Lock Cup for one-on-one play (much facilitated on this server by the fact that there was NO limit to the number of games: whereas on most of the other servers, there has been an official limit).

Both of these events, regrettably, began in those few months AFTER the single possibly-surviving backup was made, so no record remains of the initial Ruttsborough tribute game: nor of the chaos caused in the neighbouring Paris Metro "Chateau d'Eau" game when a certain player (not the eponymous Doctor) managed, in the Ruttsborough tribute game, to cap a combination of Crewe and Edinburgh Waverley with Croxley, causing a blast wave that levelled most of France across all current games on the server...

(But it was so *satisfying*, and besides the French deserved it. MUHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!

Ahem. -Ed.)

Categories: A to Z, MC on the Net

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Last edited April 2, 2007 2:14 pm by Simons Mith (diff)