Zork and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the multi-user dungeons (MUDs) and multi-user shared hallucinations (MUSHes) were our best methods of roleplaying and interacting with other people from across the globe. Without these original text-based experiences, we would not have any of the MMOs we have today.
To pay homage to this fact, Kaila Hale-Stern at Gawker's io9 writes a telling narrative of the old days in MUDs and MUSHes. PernMUSH, a MUSH based on Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series was (and still is) an extremely popular online hub for roleplayers. This story tells of Kaila's experiences with PernMUSH and how magical they were "for a sixteen year-old with a 36kbps modem and a family phone line." Be sure to check out the pages of comments as well, as they each tell their own memories of the birth of online gaming and roleplaying.