Re: "you were seriously stuck up a gum tree"
"And even then, there was always UUCP via dial-up. All you had to do was look around, the options were there."
Where you were, maybe. Where I was in '88 the only thing UUCP did was get you through to the other Zilog (via a parallel cable IIRC).
And, yes, vi is still the direct connection between brain and file.