In the iWoz biography, I read:
Now, TV terminals I already knew a little about. […] I'd already built a terminal that could access the ARPANET, the government-owned network of computers that was the predecessor to the Internet. […] Teletype systems cost thousands of dollars […] but I built a system using a Sears TV and a cheap $60 typewriter keyboard.
Now I had imagined the ARPANET was something of an early precursor of TCP/IP-like capabilities, running on a physical network between a handful of universities and/or military bases. How would Steve Wozniak have connected to this with a rudimentary terminal from his home?
Surely he would have connected via some sort of IMP minicomputer gateway, and presumedly dialing into that using a serial modem of some sort? But then what? Would Woz have serialized/deserialized raw packets manually, and typed them in hex as it is said he later did on-the-fly with 6502 machine code? That doesn't sound very fun.
I've noticed this biography can be rather sloppy with details, so perhaps he "merely" connected to a terminal host system that was also connected to ARPANET? But even so, what would this have entailed? Would he have "shelled into" some sort of pre-UNIX server and been able to run a variety of ARPANET-aware programs from that host? Or would it have been more like a BBS where a single program would "answer the phone" and offer a small menu of various options in this case related to/backed by a wider-area network connection?
What could a "home user" do on the ARPANET in the months/years leading up to the founding of the Homebrew Computer Club in March 1975?