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GOPHER is a distributed document delivery service. Gopher servers store files containing text, binary data, directory information (called the phone book), images and sound. Links to other Gopher servers result in network wide cooperation to form the global Gopher web, often called Gopherspace. Gopher client software is used to search for and retrieve files from Gopher servers anywhere on the Internet.

Gopher clients also provide gateways to other information systems, the World Wide Web, WAIS, Archie and to network services Telnet and  FTP. Gopher is a convenient way to navigate in an FTP directory and to download files.

The Gopher client presents information to the user as a series of nested menus resembling the organization of a directory with many subdirectories and files. However, the subdirectories and the files may be located either on the local Gopher server or on Gopher servers situated at remote sites. As far as the user need know, all information items presented on the menus appear to come from the same place.

Most WWW browsers can be used as a client to access Gopher.

The Gopher client presents a simple menu-driven interface which does not require any special training or knowledge from the user. Here is a sample menu.

Gopher Menu
  1. About Gopher.
  2. Books/
  3. Computers/
  4. Frequently Asked Questions.
  5. Issues and Events/
  6. New Stuff in Gopher.
  7. Other Gopher Servers/
  8. Reporting Problems or Feedback.
 --> 9. Search News <?>
  10. Software and Downloads/
  11. picture.gif <Picture>

Press ? for Help, q to Quit, u to go up a menu

Any item can be selected from the menu by typing its line number, then pressing the RETURN / ENTER key, or by moving the cursor (-->) next to the item and pressing the RETURN key.

Items on the Gopher menu have an identifying symbol next to them. In the example above:

  • <?> means a full text index-search
  • / means a subdirectory
  • <Picture> means an image file
  • no symbol means a text file.

Some Gopher clients are not able to handle all file types. When an item is selected from the Gopher menu, it is processed according to its type. If you select an item which represents say, an image file, a sound file, or a Telnet session, the Gopher client looks for the appropriate software on your computer to carry out the task of displaying the image, reproducing the sound, or starting the Telnet session. When the task is completed, control is returned to the Gopher client.

Veronica is accessible from most top-level Gopher menus or from the Other Gopher servers... branch.

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