Re: "you were seriously stuck up a gum tree"
I didn't say "Internet", I said "Usenet". Neither require the other.
BBSes were a good source for things like so-called "undocumented" calls. If you had access to a Fido node, the world was your oyster. I didn't know too many people who had a computer at home (with a modem) who didn't have access to one BBS or another. And even then, there was always UUCP via dial-up. All you had to do was look around, the options were there.
You can make vi look and act like WordStar, if you like. Some folks did. I never really saw the utility in that, though. vi was built by programmers, for programming. It did the job admirably. These days, it's still the fastest way that I know to get my thoughts into ASCII without distraction.