Pizza Server in the Dallas Morning News
September 4, 1994, Sunday, HOME FINAL EDITION
SECTION: TODAY; LIFE ON LINE; Pg. 2F
LENGTH: 745 words
HEADLINE: Back to school and back to the 'Net
BYLINE: Todd Copilevitz
Well, it's fall. That means campuses are filling up and the weirdness on Internet is in full bloom.
Every year it's the same thing. As the students file back to classes, they also get university access to the Internet. In no time the discussion level in newsgroups skyrockets, new services and archives abound, and creative new uses for the 'Net are everywhere.
In previous years the ingenious folk at Carnegie-Mellon University have wired their dorm soda machines so that you can find out what's in stock and how cold it is (send an Internet finger query to firstname.lastname@example.org). It was meant for local use. But soon people all over the world were using gopher searches via Internet to find out just how cold the next Mountain Dew was and when the Coke was last refilled.
The poor students at University of Alabama, who didn't even have change for a Coke, turned to their computers to resolve petty disputes. Now you can use a gopher search to have the university's computer conduct a coin toss for you. The address is twinbrook.cis.uab.edu and the program is in the sports arena section of The Continuum menu.
Why anyone would want to do this is beside the point. The point is that you can do it.
So now comes the Internet Pizza Server. What could be more natural?
After all, Pizza Hut is already taking orders via Internet.
Anyone with Mosaic or any World Wide Web browsing program can dial up the familiar red roof at http//www.pizzahut.com.
For now, only the people in Santa Cruz, Calif., can actually use the on-screen order form. Their orders are zipped to the chain's Kansas City office, then sent to the Pizza Hut nearest to them.
But Brian Hall figures he's got a better idea. The student at California State University (Chico campus) can get you a pizza in less than five minutes. And it's free.
Send email to pizza@[obsolete]. In the subject field put "pizza" and in the body list your size and ingredients. (For ordering instructions, put "help" in the subject field instead of "pizza".) I ordered a large pie: "large, pepperoni, half mushrooms, half olives, extra cheese."
No sooner had my message departed than the Internet Pizza Server sent back confirmation. When I sent that back, it took less than two minutes before my pizza and the bill arrived.
All right, so what if the pizza I got was only an illustration in GIF format? There was my pizza in all its glory, served on a red checkered tablecloth. The bill was a bit steep, $ 14.50. But then that's in "Beej" bucks, which it notes, are not yet legal. So I didn't have to pay.
What's the point?
"There isn't really one. We just thought it was a neat idea," says Mr. Hall, a computer sciences senior. "One day we were eating pizza when we got the idea."
Of course, Mr. Hall did have to spend several weeks persuading the university to give his pizza program space on the big computers. Then he had to write the program that automates the delivery process.
His professors were impressed enough by the effort that he's now getting three hours of credit for the project. Now that it's done, everyone has been amazed at its popularity.
"The other week we were taking an order a minute," he says. "We even got orders from Russia and Israel. How do you think they heard about it?"
If you dial up a pizza, Mr. Hall suggests salami, pepperoni, mushrooms and olives. "Those are the best-looking toppings."
His roommate added beetles and eyeballs to the menu, further proof that college roommates can be hazardous to your health.
On the other side of the country, John at the University of Maryland has learned a painful lesson. You never, ever walk away from your computer when it's signed on to the 'Net. An empty chair has a force greater than any magnet.
Someone sat down at John's tube and zipped out a quick posting to several news groups offering a recipe for "The World's Greatest Cheesecake."
Before long, John was inundated with email seeking his recipe. A few days later, a second message appeared in the newsgroups:
"Do not send me any more messages! Someone has played a cruel joke on me! If you are interested in cheesecake, buy a cookbook, because I don't know anything about cooking."
If you have a tip or question for use in a future column, Todd Copilevitz can be reached via email on America Online (DallasNews), on CompuServe (76260,465), on Prodigy (JXFH59A), or by regular mail at P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265.
GRAPHIC: PHOTO(S): A Cal State student has made it possible to order a picture-perfect pizza via the Internet.
LOAD-DATE-MDC: September 8, 1994