NetFoss and NetFossil are unrelated products. NetFossil was a 16-bit
TCP/IP FOSSIL driver for Win95 first developed by Ojas Parekh,
and was only released to a small number of beta
testers in the late summer of 1996.
announced in alt.bbs newsgroups that NetFossil
was about to be released on August
9 1996, but he ran into a number of problems
with the FOSSIL design. Just 2 weeks later,
on August 25 1996,
Ojas announced that the Netfossil project was
officially scrapped, and the code has now been
VCOM, a Virtual Modem / Virtual DOS 16550
UART with TCP/IP support for Windows 95 and
3.1. Ojas was later hired by Odin Software.
the time, there was one other Windows Virtual
Modem called COMt, which emulated a Windows
com port rather then a DOS UART. COMt was a
16-bit Windows application which supported Windows
3.1, Windows 95, and could also run Win 3.1
apps under NT. COMt was developed in 1994 by
David Yon of Performance Designs up until mid
1995. In 1996 David Yon co-founded a new company
and rewrote it as a 32-bit application called
COM/IP which he released in 1997.
Back to VCOM... Because VCOM was a Virtual DOS
UART, it allowed BBS's to support telnet, using
their existing, (and stable) FOSSIL driver,
such as BNU
Two public betas of VCOM were released in September
1996, and several months went by with no further
progress. It was rumored that Ojas was in need
of the Win95 DDK kit, so he could create a proper
.VxD driver. Bugs in VCOMs design allowed it
to only support one com port, and it could not
allow a BBS to disconnect the online user, making
its use very limited. By March 1997, Ojas has
lost interest, and vanished soon afterwards.
In April 1997, A friend of Ojas's brother named
Dedrick Allen decided to continue NetFossil
on his own. Dedrick created both a FOSSIL driver
and a Virtual AT modem interpreter, (but not
a true Virtual windows com port) for Win 3.1
and Win95 called
NetModem/16 , which included his version
of NetFossil. Netmodem/16 only supported one
node. Unfortunatley it never became a stable
product, which accoding to Dedrick was due to
buggy third party libraries which he used to
By the end of 1997, Dedrick released a 32bit
version of Netmodem for Windows 95. It did not
support NT, and was considerably less stable
then the 16-bit version. It included an impressive
GUI interface and installer, and showed a lot
of promise. Many sysops registered the multinode
beta version, in hopes the stability issues
would be resolved.
Netmodem/32 10.beta4 was released in February
1998, but Sysops were still encountering intermitant
crashing of Windows, resulting in either a reboot
or a blue screens of death. To make matters
worse, Dedrick vanished, and for the next 18
months there were no further updates.
In June of 1999, Dedrick reappeared with a
public alpha version of Netmodem Version 2.0
This version only supported a single node, and
was said to be a total rewrite without the aid
of third party libraries. By then many of the
Netmodem users had moved on to other solutions.
There was a rumor that Dedrick was later involved
in a serious car accident, and after being released
from the hospital he never regained intrest
in Netmodem or Netfossil. Dedrick later reported
that he actually had used a third party library
to create version 2.0 alpha, called Delphi Shortcutbar.
Dedrick had purchased the source code to this
library, but he later lost that source and the
company that had licensed it to him had vanished,
so Dedrick was unable to compile future updates.
COM/IP had a better track record. Version 1.0
had proven to be stable, and was mainly used
in commercial environments such as banking and
real estate industries. In 1999 Tactical developed
version 2.0 of COM/IP which included its own
FOSSIL support. This became a good solution
for BBS use, but it was limited to only allowing
many (poorly designed) door games (which were
only made to work on COM1 through COM4) to only
run on up to 4 BBS nodes. FOSSIL Support for
COM/IP was moved to a seperate installer in
version 3.1. In 2003 COM/IP version 4.0 was
released with a new licensing structure based
on the number of virtual COM ports required.
This made it far too expensive for the budget
of most hobbiest BBS'es.
Pcmicro's BBS became a beta site for COM/IP
in 1999, but soon afterwards the BBS was shut
down, after being online for over 10 years.
In January 2000 pcmicro became a VAR for Tactical
SW and took over as the primary reseller/support
site for COM/IP. There was clearly a need for
a better non-commercial telnet FOSSIL for hobbiest
In November 2001 Pcmicro developed NetFoss,
which was released in December as freeware.
It was based on original code, with no third
party librarys other then the Win32 API. It
was developed using MASM32,
which allows it to be smaller and faster then
other FOSSIL drivers. Several NetFoss updates
have been released since then.