History

Factland began life as a BBS in 1986. I sprang for it's own phone line in the basement of my parent's house. It ran on an Apple ][ with a memory/language card which gave it Pascal and a whopping total of 64K. (Usenet posting from 1985 asking for advice on the card.) The facts were kept in memory and periodically written out to the 5.25 inch floppy drive - there was no hard drive. There was a Hayes modem card with two speeds: low (150 baud) and high (300 baud). In addition to Pascal there was some 6502 assembler. For example, from some old notes that are still around:

Answering the phone
LDA  $77A     ( = $778 + 2, the slot number)
ORA  2
STA  $77A
JSR  $C207    (IIN, where $Cs07, s=slot)

Apple ]['s run at 1 MHz - its not uncommon for a computer nowadays to run at 1000 MHz. But it easily did the job.

The user interface was strictly command line. After you connected at 300 baud with 8 databits, 1 stop bit and no parity. A session would go something like this (sorry we don't remember exactly):

Example Session

Welcome to Factland - ? for help

> ?

Factland is a land of facts.
You can do queries and make facts.

Commands are:
  fact - list a random fact
  is A B than C - ask a question
  assert A is B than C - add a fact
  quit - hang up

> is Iggy better than God

Yes

> assert Poison Ivy is better than Lux

Thanks

> is Poison Ivy better than Lux

Yes

> quit

bye
^~!%
NO CARRIER

If anyone has a real transcript we'd love to see it. for old times sake.

Perhaps the Talking Heads used Factland because in "Crosseyed and Painless" on their 1990 record "Remain in Light" they sing "Facts are never what they seem to be ... Facts are useless in a emergency... No information left of any kind".

Later a wise man named Homer Simpson said "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true."

Somehow the world did without Factland until 2001. We registered factland.ca and rewrote it using C++ and PostgreSQL on a nice Intel Linux box. Sadly, we didn't keep any of facts or the code so both are starting from scratch in 2001. In June 2006, we made the move back to the future and added a bot.

On August 23, 2016, I found an old printout of the facts from 1987. I scanned them and added them to the current database ;)