Mother.com has been said to be the second Davis ISP.Edit conflict! Other version: Edit conflict! Your version:
Mother.com was indeed the second provider in Davis and the first commercial provider of dial-up Internet service in Davis and throughout Yolo County. Davis Community Network was the first and technically was a non-profit. Many, many more ISPs came along over the years including a few Davis-based ISPs but mother.com and DCN were really the first ISPs based in Davis.
It was founded by some like-minded locals who were interested in starting an ISP. A small group of these people somehow found each other and met initially around 1993 at the CA House. There were several more meetings over several months as the group tried to figure out how they were going to start up, how much it would cost, who was going to throw money into the kitty (and how much), and how they wanted to be involved. The group of interested investors grew but several in this expanding group ultimately dropped out of these initial talks and discussions. It incorporated in August of 1994 which is around the time it started offering service.
It started in Birch Lane Elementary which incredibly had a computer lab with a then-fast 56K digital connection to BARRNET - another name for one of the many academic internetworks that essentially formed the early commercial Internet. Mother.com started with 8 modems on the floor at the Birch Lane computer lab and a few "servers" (donated PCs from the founders) that it used for email, shell, web, and news (Usenet) service. It ran this way for a few months until it moved the hardware into one of the bedrooms of a 2 bedroom apartment at 1111 J St in Davis. They were able to pull in a fractional Internet T1 from MCI and a large bundle of copper pairs from Pacific Bell right into this bedroom.
It ran this way on J street for at least a year as it grew to have several more machines, phone lines, and modems. The office moved from Lois Richter's house (Lois was one of the founders) in El Macero to a tiny 300 square foot office space behind a piano teacher's space close to 3rd and I streets in Davis. Eventually after around a year on 3rd street (and the J st "data center") it moved everything - the office and "data center" - to a larger office on Kennedy Place, just off J street and Covell Blvd, where it would stay for years and slowly take over more office space as it grew.
Eventually the company ownership consolidated - all of the early founders' shares were bought out - and mother.com sold its very valuable domain name, changed its primary name to Cal.net (a domain name it had owned almost since its inception), and Cal.net too eventually sold off to another ISP.
In the mid-to-late '90s the dialup ISP business was very much a "wild west" - hundreds of dial-ups formed in just Sacramento and the Bay Area alone. Most were tiny "mom and pops" like mother.com. Many were started by independent computer stores (remember those?). The dial-up ISP industry as a whole consolidated dramatically by the late '90s and early aughts. Numerous investment groups came along and swept up most viable local dialup ISPs into larger ISPs which in turn were packaged and sold out to the really big ISPs (e.g., Mindspring, Earthlink). Then broadband came along. All but a tiny handful of those original dialup ISPs remain now as the industry switched to broadband and consolidated around the major commercial telcos and cablecos.
Lois is one of the mother.com founders still around Davis. A couple more of the early founders worked - or were already working - at UC Davis and still are to this day.