Gopher7: Named after the University of Minnesota’s athletic mascot, the Internet gopher project was inspired by the inability of FTP to span multiple servers or filesystems. From the gopher protocol specification:
gopher: n. 1. Any of various short tailed, burrowing mammals of the family Geomyidae, of North America. 2. (Amer. colloq.) Native or inhabitant of Minnesota: the Gopher State. 3. (Amer. colloq.) One who runs errands, does odd-jobs, fetches or delivers documents for office staff. 4. (computer tech.) software following a simple protocol for burrowing through a TCP/IP internet.
Gopher documents (and services) may reside on many servers, running a very simple client-server protocol. The gopher interface was designed to present users with a virtual filesystem containing document objects, directory objects, and searching capabilities across multiple servers with the click of a mouse. Directory objects unify the virtual filesystem - although a user views all directory objects as equals, some directory objects traverse the filesystem to which the user has most recently connected. In other cases, invoking a directory object result in a redirection to another server elsewhere on the Internet. Directory objects that provide these redirections are inserted as “links” manually by gopher server administrators.
Beyond offering a filesystem view, most server implementations allow administrators to provide very descriptive text for the objects with few naming constraints. On a well-managed gopher server, the directory c:\home\jallard might appear as J. Allard’s home directory, and the file dhcp.doc might appear as DHCP ConneXions Article (Microsoft Word format). As you might imagine, this capability is a big plus for new users of Internet tools.The gopher protocol also provides simple document type information allowing the client tool to choose to display the document once retrieved, or to invoke a more suitable viewer of the data such as Paintbrush or WinWord. Since this concept is very useful in the PC industry, the designers have recently expanded the protocol (gopher+8) to include richer document type descriptions and other minor enhancements to correct oversights in the original protocol.