The Pirate Bay's 20th Anniversary

The Pirate Bay's 20th Anniversary




I recently listened to the Darknet Diaries episode about the PirateBay:

Great episode, he interviewed one of the founders. Goes through the whole history of the piratebay and all the times they tried to take it down. Guy seems... interesting. Basically exactly who you might expect would be running that website.


20 years of being inferior to gnutella in every way imaginable.


Our school had a gnutella network on the campus network. It was incredibly fast, and some people were fairly prolific with their content upload reputations. E.g. I remember the highest quality Game of Thrones episodes being uploaded within minutes of them airing.

Though my understanding was that Gnutella worked better than torrents because it was an incredible fast local network, i.e. our campus was connected with the fastest network I’ve ever experienced personally. I don’t think Gnutella works as well over the public internet.


DC++ was what we used across our school LAN back in the day.


hey us too! It was incredibly fast since we were on the uni's internet, and sharing with people all on the same campus. Was getting latest eps of TV shows and a huge variety of music faster than bitorrent was capable of


In Romania in the early millennium, my local ISP offered a DC++ server so that people in my city could share music and films with one another at lightning speed. (Besides the fact that piracy was simply part of Eastern European mass culture, it probably helped reduce their bandwidth costs to and from the wider world.). Alas, this ultimately disappeared due to ISP mergers and stricter enforcement.


Same here. The server lived in our student library, there were also some very creative parody video of our university president and of various teachers that I unfortunately didn't keep.


Does Gnutella still exist? I don't think I've heard that name in a very long time.


Justin Frankel's projects never die.


Could you give metrics and features?


The “gnu” in the name is likely all they care about.


What features do they each offer?


BitTorrent is a protocol that has taken over pirated content distribution (in the context of ThePirateBay). “gnutella” is something most people have not even heard of. I’d say that’s feature enough.


That really doesn't answer my question


Yeah, downloading a 700MB movie only to discover that it's actually scat pr0n was way better than BitTorrent. /s

Also, Gnutella having search built in to it was a huge mistake. BitTorrent was a success because it allowed anyone to host their own distinct index of torrents. I'm sure that something similar could have been done with Gnutella, but its search was compromised so badly even in its heyday. It was pretty obvious that there were bad nodes that would take your search terms and dynamically return listings of fake files named after what you typed in.


I have torrented but am not very familiar in this field, but I have to say, this is the first time I've ever heard of gnutella.

Less technical people I know have heard or used TPB and are likely never to have heard of this as well.

I am curious (although I'll be googling as well) on what makes it better. As a personal preference though, if given the option, I would rather make a project that used by many reliably than to have one that is really really fine tuned but not used at all.

However, if I do see that gnutella is better for my purposes, then I will gladly make the switch and will say thanks in advance.


They may not have heard of Gnutella, the network, but they may be familiar with some of the software that supports it: LimeWire, Shareaza, BearShare, WireShare, FrostWire, iMesh, and probably others I'm forgetting.


LimeWire I’m familiar with and one they’ve definitely used but that seems like a thing from 20 years ago. And by the 2010s I don’t know if anyone still used it. Given that, now I’m curious on why it was mentioned to be better than TBP which survived while Limewire (not sure about the others but have never heard of them) didn’t.


AIUI gnutella is only the search feature, the actual download doesn't use the network. So you're only downloading from one person, not distributing your download in pieces from many people


Their tenacity brings to mind that Teddy Roosevelt quote.



It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

Excerpt from the specch "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at The Sorbonne Paris, France April 23, 1910


>Theodore Roosevelt Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at The Sorbonne Paris, France April 23, 1910

Yeah, he was also a rich guy born with a silver spoon, who never faced any actual adversity in life, and so spent his time fetishizing those who do, while LARPing as one of them in controlled environments.

Read into his whole trip through South America; it's an absolute disgrace. The attitude you illustrated above led to the death of his guide (and almost his son) and him having to be hauled out of the jungle by natives on a stretcher for weeks.

Even the charge up San Juan hill is pure mythology. The enemy position had already been cleared by the 10th cavalry, and they were waiting for Roosevelt at the top. The guy is a complete work of fiction as he is taught to school children these days.

Point being, these romantic notions of life have very little bearing on reality. Criticism is valid. And doing dumb things is indeed many times just dumb.


Cool man. I appreciate your opinion.

I also agree that it's crucial to critically examine historical figures and not idealize them blindly, it's also essential to avoid oversimplifying or misrepresenting their lives.

Theodore Roosevelt certainly had privileges, but it would be unfair to dismiss his contributions and experiences entirely. The challenges he faced and his contributions to American history, both domestically and internationally, are more complex than a single perspective or narrative. Dismissing an entire life based on a few events can be as misleading as uncritical adulation.


He almost died as well. It fits well in the quote op listed. Oddly, it even addresses your critical response: that it is easy to be a Tuesday morning quarterback.


He was literally shot during a speech but continued speaking for an entire hour while bleeding out. Sounds like actual adversity to me. You're free to try that and prove history wrong.


And my entire point being that that was dumb. It doesn't make him tough. It makes him an egomaniacal idiot to have not sought treatment.


God forbid you fact check American mythology!


Lazy dismissal based on broad ideological grandstanding isn't "fact checking", although sadly many "fact checkers" don't seem to understand that.


No, I know. I needed to drop a /s in there and realized I'm not on Reddit.


>It doesn't make him tough.

I guess your definition and mine are incompatible. The forensic evidence is quite clear:


> Yeah, he was also a rich guy born with a silver spoon, who never faced any actual adversity in life, and so spent his time fetishizing those who do, while LARPing as one of them in controlled environments.

I am all for being critical of class-based inequalities but having resources does not exempt one from adversity. Very few people would consider someone who spent their whole childhood in debilitating sickness, someone who lost their wife and mother 2 days apart, rode western with cowboys through a winter in North Dakota as someone LARPing in controlled environments. Not all of this is romantic ideology. One can be born with a silver spoon and still experience the realities of life, the trauma of losing loved ones, prolonged sickness, etc. Saying that he "never faced any actual adversity" is black and white while being arguably wrong.

The Edmund Morris trilogy gives a good overview of his life for those interested.


The adversities you're listing were extremely common back then (and even today) and not anything especially noteworthy


Wikipedia, at least, reports something very different for San Juan Hill.

WP says the battle was over a ridge with a couple major peaks, and that the highest was indeed cleared and occupied by other soldiers the day before, but the following day Roosevelt’s troops (among others) did face real resistance taking the other major peak. It reads like the first day was rather more intense, but the second wasn’t exactly a cake-walk, and it definitely doesn’t read like they just walked up to an already-taken position.


There was an article a long time ago about their oldest active torrent:

"An episode of the Swedish comedy show “High Chaparral” has the honor of being the oldest torrent. The file was originally uploaded on March 25, 2004, and although it lists zero seeders in search results, there are still several people actively sharing the torrent."


Sadly, 'kbdcb' is the only remaining seeder. The torrent may soon be lost to history.



Almost in talk like a pirate day. It would have been really appropriate.


Some interesting history can be seen via their own doodles:


Side-note: I will always be in awe of the BitTorrent protocol. A resilient and efficient piece of tech that at its height was responsible for LARGE amounts of internet traffic (facilitated by sites like the TPB) and was (mostly) developed by just one guy: Bram Cohen.


most cool tech stuff usually starts out with a single person hacking away in a bedroom somewhere.


In 2007 I uploaded a rather obscure TV show to Demonoid, ripped from DVDs that were quite difficult to obtain and that I have long since lost.

A few months ago I downloaded it from TPB; somewhat to my surprise it was the same torrent I had uploaded 16 years ago.

I thought that was kinda neat. It's probably also the only way to watch this TV show, legal or otherwise. "Distributed cloud backup" I suppose :-)

(I do regret the childish and embarrassing comments in the README, which are also still alive after 16 years :-/ That's also why I'm not mentioning which TV show this is.)


Out of interest, do you know if it was the exact same torrent (modulo trackers), i.e. the same infohash/magnet? You could have a look at the created date in the metadata to get an idea. One unfortunate thing with torrenting is how you'd often get the same content but in slightly different torrents, sometimes differing only by "torrent downloaded from xtremetrackrr69.txt", which would split the users into different swarms. Bittorrent 2 does actually fix this, by having per-file hash trees rather than non-aligned blocks, but you do still need to add each torrent before your client can notice the duplicate files. Though perhaps there exist reverse indexes which can find other torrents for a given file hash now


I don't know; it says "uploaded on 2007-10-19" with my (old) username, so I assume it's the same torrent. It doesn't have the "Downloaded from Demonoid.txt" file though, so maybe I'm misremembering that I uploaded it to Demonoid, or it's a different torrent (but with "my" files).

To be honest I can't be bothered to look at it further, but here's the torrent if you want to look at it yourself: (with the disclaimer that some comments in the README do NOT represent my current attitude or views, and haven't for well over 10 years)


> with the disclaimer that some comments in the README do NOT represent my current attitude or views, and haven't for well over 10 years

Oh come on, it can't be that bad...

> and no, stupid "Sci-Fi" like Stargate or Enterprise is not good science fiction

Wow. Thank you for atoning for your sins.


To be honest I still don't really like either; Stargate is fun at times but superficial and has some serious weirdness (in a bad way) at times, and Enterprise suffers from even more time-travel nonsense than Voyager did (plus some other things). It's okay to like things or not like things, it's the "bruh huh I'm so much smarter than all you mainstream nincompoops" kind of attitude I dislike. I suppose it's a classic youthful "rebel against the mainstream" kind of attitude shrug


That is so awesome! Thanks for sharing (both the story and the original upload).


> "Distributed cloud backup"

Relatedly, when Docker started charging open source projects for Dockerhub storage, a friend and I started brainstorming a torrent registry driver (although we didn't find a way around the project still needing to provide a signature for verification at least, even if it didn't need to maintain hosting for the image itself)

Nothing to show for it just yet, but point being I think this "distributed cloud backup" idea has a lot of interesting applications still.


It sounds like IPFS (or other content-addressed distributed data stores) may be more what you're after there than Bittorrent


IPFS would be another potential solution. What drew us to Bittorrent for this use case is the (at least original) ethos of clients both downloading and uploading cooperatively such that as long as there's any community that values the image, it will continue to be available (which would basically be true for an IPFS implementation as well).

But the registry implementation in the "distribution" project takes storage drivers, so an IPFS storage driver is certainly a possibility. In part for me going with Bittorrent was also just an excuse to get more familiar with the technical details of Bittorrent.


What's the signature problem? For a read-only registry, signatures can all be included in the torrent.

For a versioned registry, all the info can be stored in any cloud key-value store - eg. The bittorrent DHT


It could just be a lack of understanding on our part, but here's the scenario we're thinking about:

Say the Redis team seeds a redis:1.0 image. So far, so good.

But what if a nefarious hacker seeds a redis:2.0 image? In a traditional registry, the auth system for the registry ensures that only those who are authorized can write to a particular registry. But in (at least our understanding of) a swarm, there is no auth and therefore no way to know if a particular tag of the redis image in the swarm is legitimate or not.

if I understand you, this is where you're saying the info can be stored in the DHT, which I don't really understand at the moment but if so that sounds like something we should look into.


Another Cohen project worth noting for its novelty is the Chia crypto network [1] which implements Proof of Space-Time.



"Proof of Space-time"

Oooh, what a fancy, high-falutin word for... writing bingo tickets to your SSD. Could more accurately be called "proof of bingo card", and then it doesn't infringe on actually interesting concepts, like relativistic physics.

I remember when the new of Chia caused SSD prices to spike around the time I was buying, in the speculative fever for free money. At least it crashed, causing the Chia miners to become irrelevant in the market. Too late for me, sadly, I was stuck paying 400% of current market prices.

Fuck Chia, fuck crypto nonsense.


I've always found it odd that people have such guttural reactions to cryptocurrency. It's a technology. Calm down. It's become like politics now. "Fuck Republicans, fuck conservative nonsense." is what I'd expect to hear, not getting pissed over an algorithm. Kinda brings me comedic relief.


> I've always found it odd that people have such guttural reactions to cryptocurrency. It's a technology. Calm down.

Because the resource waste and scalping had real, measurable impact to a lot of completely unrelated people's life.


Except much like technology or politics it had real, measurable impacts on millions of people's lives, and not for the better

Hell the damage it's done to the planet alone should give most people pause


But politics impact me and my family and the world we live in.

And some technologies do too!

So it's natural and probably good to have thoughts and perspectives and positions on politics and technologies that impact me and my family and the world we live in (rather than be apathetic).

Should we avoid polarization, and arguing by memes, absolutely!

But like perpetual motion machine and eugenics and racism and trickle down economy, there are things in life that a) We've discussed and read about sufficiently and b) We believe they impact us negatively enough that we have a fairly established position on; something would have to change quite radically to shift it.

For cryptocurrency, I find it either naive or disingenuous to call it "just a technology" or "an algorithm". Tables and B-trees and markov's chains and blockchain may be technologies. Cryptocurrencies are an implementation and usage and ideology, not an "algorithm". It's closer to a cult religion, from where I'm sitting, and I'm terrified that zealots will push it far enough that its current (flawed! Awful! Insane!) implementations become the norm and "too big to fail".

(Snarky add-on: And even for technologies... since when did any of us not have guttural reactions and strong opinions and religious wars on technologies? JavaScript, Oracle, Microsoft, Perl, Intel vs AMD, Linux vs Windows for Apple, Kubernettes, etc etc etc... guttural reactions and strong opinions are the norm, and those are not policy-changing, environment-draining, scam-filled financial schemes :)



baller comment. thank you


Hear, hear! And while we're on the subject, fuck Markov chains. It's abundantly clear that cause and effect are at the root of all our problems.


In any case, I think we can all agree that one shouldn't compare cryptocurrency to a perpetual motion machine. It's a real technology, with real utility for the people whose problems it solves.


Sure, and it's also different than racism, which is a prejudice toward other human beings based on criteria they have no control over.

The list was heterogeneous analogies to illustrate a point, not equivalences. And that point was: there are concepts which are not obscure and no longer new and people have had some experience with, and its ok to have a negative reaction about them until and unless some pretty darn novel new evidence or argument comes up (yet there exists a set of people who still buy into it and don't understand the negativity). Like, I have a friend who's into crypto currency and I know a guy who's into racism and I have an uncle who's working on perpetual working machine... and they'll all get a "negative gutural reaction" from me.


Okay, but the fundamental difference is that cryptocurrency works as intended and provides value for an entire economy of people even during this experimental phase where we are still working things out.




Crypto has earned those reactions. I hope US regulators gut it.


Being on the other side of crypto's externalities (even if just for a hundred bucks or so) entitles me to this "guttural" reaction.


Would you be happier if people were having their guttural reactions to the people involved in creating or using cryptocurrency instead of the technology itself? Would it make a difference?


Yes. Be mad at the people using it to scam people. Not everyone is.


Being mad at the creators of the tech isn't new to cryptocurrency, though.

Just as it's frustrating to have the tech dismissed as universally evil, it's also frustrating to see the technologists continue to create systems that fail to address the criminality and ecological concerns.


Cryptocurrency has a lot more negatives than just scams. This thread started because of it increasing prices for drives. Do you think whoever created Chia, decided to attempt to profit by mining it, or attempted to profit by speculating on it is not responsible for those consequences?


Cryptocurrency is a political project, designed to take power from governments and give it to markets.


> I've always found it odd that people have such guttural reactions to cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency has been used for a huge number of scams, and generally to allow criminals launder their money and do more easily their job. All of this, and more, at a huge environmental expense. Technically the concept is great, but the implementation and use has been mostly harmful so far.


You could say much of the same about email. Especially given that more spam is sent than legit.



It's only fair to then reflect on the almighty dollar and the scams, criminal deeds and atrocities which it has also enabled.

If you still find utility in the dollar bill after such reflection, then the argument doesn't hold up to cryptocurrency.


The difference is that crypto has only had a negative impact on my life. It's more of a mixed bag with the dollar.


Given the billions of dollars stolen by crypto creators, supposed trusted and secure “by blockchain”. It has become a sector full of scammers, self promotion and fraud. It is Bernie Madoff in digital form.


> It's a technology.

cryptocurrency is hated because it turns every action into a transaction.

a system with mistrust as its core principle. where the enablement of scamming masquerades as freedom.

basically thousands of incompatible pay-to-play messaging protocols all imbued with some pretty dark zero-sum incentives and fancy jargon


> basically a technology for transferring and swapping tokens whose value is based on speculation.

So it's a market. Like double entry bookkeeping. Are you similarly triggered by NASDAQ or Quickbooks or point of sale systems that use Postgres instead of a blockchain?

> its basically a pay-to-play messaging protocol with fancy jargon.

It's a fee based messaging protocol with a demand based pricing mechanic for limited block space. All messaging protocols are pay-to-play. Someone is paying for it and whatever infrastructure it runs on, even if it's free for you (via ads, spyware, etc). Only difference with a blockchain is that the infrastructure costs and fees are transparent, and it avoids dependency on a central actor.


i'm not saying there's no merit in it.

just pointing out why I think people hate it and i think there are some valid reasons.


The technology of cryptocurrencies is incredibly boring; the scam and political aspects are simply more salient.


How is that odd? Technology can be bad, and most cryptocurrency is really bad on purpose. Also, people are more reacting to the abusive usage of this technology, and the mindset of people in that space, not so much to the technology itself.


You will find that kind of response here due to the demographic. I know it's not everyone, but most people here are well off, educated and highly employable. The system works for them... and that's the kind people who can't easily see or benefit from what crypto brings to the table.


Is the argument here that poor uneducated unemployed people in developing countries are the ones profiting from Crypto? As, say, percentage of turnover or revenue?


> poor uneducated unemployed people in developing countries

I don't think poor uneducated unmployed people in developing countries have money to worry about.

> are the ones profiting from Crypto?

Profit is the wrong word.

In my country people are not looking for profit when they buy dollars. When even the official inflation numbers are above 120%, they are escaping state sponsored pillage.

Naturally it's illegal to buy dollars here, so the only way to do this is cash. Everyone who can save a penny will try to buy dollars, so by the strict definition, the country is pretty much filled with criminals.

Since having basic banking is something everyone wants, crypto becomes an attractive alternative for those who can sort out the technical barriers of entry.


I've tried to upvote you back up not because I think Chia is anything good (looks like not) but because you are merely noting its existence and the novelty of it, etc.

Don't kill the messenger, people. It doesn't help the discussion.


HN has developed some sort of allergy to cryptocurrency. Warranted or not, some users get really passionate whenever they see anything mentioning crypto, blockchain or web3.


Frankly, I have the same "allergy" and personal opposition and think it's really in the end all about money laundering and techno-libertarian-anarcho-capitalist naive bullshit. But I don't see any reason for this comment in particular to be downvoted.


As a believer in techno-libertarian-capitalism (not anarchism), I still think crypto and blockchains are bullshit and serve no fundamental purpose.

On one end, I do see the point of cryptocurrency as an anonymous payment method but on the other end, they have done nothing but cause me inconvenience, skyrocketing GPU and SSD prices just so they can use thousands of gigawatts of power to make $20 that will probably be down to $12 a couple hours later and pioneering the latest generation of bullshit technology that's taking grifters and AI bros by storm.


Over a decade ago, he was kinda mentor to a founder cohort I was in. I remember him as a rather introverted geeky one and my friends were surprised why I keep talking to him, with a keen interest in tech-talks. Most people didn't know how awesome his work was/is.

We stayed connected; he is currently doing a Blockchain + Climate company.


It was designed by Cohen but he didn't write most of the commonly used implementations.


This seems like a great accomplishment; a design so good that others are inspired to implement it.


Not to diminish his contributions but the high level idea was relatively simple. Break a file into pieces and then reconstitute them using hashes. The devil really is in being able to actually implement that which he also did. Ashwin Navin was pivotal in getting it out there for people to use as well.


Splitting a file into parts predates BitTorrent by quite a while. Rare archives, with a parity chunk were being uploaded to alt.bin newsgroups for years if not decades before BitTorrent was ever released. It was the swarm upload feature which did it, allowed modem users, with poor upload speeds, to participate in uploading the file to everyone on the swarm that did it.


thanks, you're right - RAR (with .par). phone autocorrect.


The future has always been DHT, but having no built-in search feature like Kademlia is a huge oversight imo.

There are websites that crawl DHT and you can search using them but of course it would be better to have something decentralised.


Me: What is DHT?

Also Me: Distributed hash table.

Me: Thanks.

Also Me: You're welcome, but don't be too impressed. I googled it.


DHT is a protocol that allows peers to exchange data about torrents and peers; you can download the contents of a torrent by its hash instead of having to download a .torrent file and connect to a server to find peers.

Kademlia is similar for eMule, only that it also allows search.


> you can download the contents of a torrent by its hash

How are hash collisions resolved? I'd hate to think I'm downloading my favorite TV show & find that I've downloaded something that makes ma attract the attention of law enforcement.


Aren't hash collisions supposed to be extremely unlikely in general?


Yes, but I don't want to explain to the FBI I was really trying to download a nature documentary.


It's sha1, collisions are unrealistic


Thanks, that’s the answer was looking for.


Kademlia, being a permissionless distributed search protocol, is also heavily polluted. Both by malware and people set out to make piracy harder. It's a hard problem.


Not my experience.


I love that most clients support just pasting the infohash into the 'add url' field.

Saved me a few times on shady-looking sites that demanded an account or something before showing a download link, but still listed the infohash on the page. Useful too when pasting it into a search engine actually gave results.


It was a product of the time. At the time you had the copyright trolls who would use the peer search function that was available on earlier p2p tools, and use that as the basis to blast out shakedown letters.

By removing search from the protocol it meant that they actually had to join the swarm. Also, this led to the creation of private trackers.


How do you get the DHT without at least a centralized bootstrap?


query a known (or attempt reaching a previously known) peer


Isn't that then the centralized authority?


Well, no:

- IPs of peers can be obtained from any source, not necessarily a centralized one. you could argue that this is centralized if you use only one, but there is no central authority and you can move to any other one or use a sizeable list of completely independent sources.

- torrent clients can persist previously contacted peers to contact them when starting up again from scratch, attempting connection in hopes that they are still around (which at least some usually are given that clients are usually long-running processes)


There is: Working like a charm.

You also want to know which torrent looks legit, so you may want to query trackers ... Here you go:


DHT means no central tracker to be taken down however each peer is still know when connecting and downloading. Not a problem for countries where downloading is legal but others can have a difficult time.


many VPN providers available.


I find the opinions of Peter Sunde in this article quite interesting.

Even seven years ago he was saying that torrent sites had stagnated and there was necessity for innovation to protect against the vulnerabilities inherent in having only few large, popular torrent sites.

So, this 20th anniversary is somewhat of a bitter pill to swallow for at least one of the founders.


There won't be a big wave again until something happens to cause one. Innovation is still happening, but it usually takes a big event to really spur things again.

Back then it was a combo of Napster going away, filesharing apps typically sucking, and the invention of BitTorrent making access to content really easy. Digital music and movies were new too and ahead of their physical media counterparts.

There are many great brains trying, and it will just take one of their ideas to takeoff and become another household name.


> So, this 20th anniversary is somewhat of a bitter pill to swallow for at least one of the founders.

I don't see how that would be the case, as nothing what he said is wrong. Torrenting in general is getting less popular for a while now, many private tracker sites are alive but not as active as 10 years ago, especially if it's something which was replaced by legal streaming like music trackers.

In my group of "regular people" friends none of them pirates any more and they all just use Netflix and Spotify. It went back to being a nerd thing after being mainstream for a while with Limewire/TPB/Popcorntime etc.


I sadly agree: Popcorn time and webtorrent was the most recent "improvement" into torrent technology .

But for the tech progress available now, we should have the MPAA, RIAA and all other copyright cartels shivering on their knees, with 100% anonymous, distributed data transfers

In my youngster time (80s and 90s), there were a lot of ideas and projects: kazaa , ed2k, kad, mute, i2p, freenet, bittorrent among plenty of others.

But it seems young kids today are busier o other things (tiktok influencers?) Or they had become highly profit driven.


Peak civilization


unironically. The continued existence of the pirate bay and torrents is like the remaining aqueduct from a crumbling civilization, a reminder of what we once could do, before usurpers gobbled it up to squeeze the last cent out of everything