back to article What did turbonerds do before the internet? 41 years ago, a load of BBS

While large chunks of the US used this year's Snowmageddon to binge on streaming TV or tweet selfies with snowmen, take a moment to remember the Great Blizzard of 1978, which led to the first Bulletin Board Service (BBS) taking to the phone lines 41 years ago. Those brought up with the seemingly endless amount of storage and …

  1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Not dead yet

    BBSs aren't dead. Their spiritual descendents are forums : owner-moderated, often with a personal agenda, often for self-promotion. Although I can see their good points for certain uses, I'm unable to understand why email groups are pushed into forums because 'they're more modern'. They're not, they're just BBSs with a pretty web face and all the disadvantages - polled for updates, unintegrated with push delivery systems (that have been modern since the 80s), a home for cute features and draconic rule.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Not dead yet

      Indeed, my neighbour still runs one. ISDN was one of the drivers for BBS in Germany because it made having multiple lines easier and had "vastly" superior data rates. OS/2, and to a lesser extent AmigaOS, also made it easier to run BBS because of the flexibility of ports.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Not dead yet

      I agree re. Forums vs. Email, a virtual* boat club I'm a member of decided that forums and Facebook were the way to go instead of the email list that's been running fine for years.

      A year or so on and the email list is alive and kicking, the forum is dead and the Facebook group might as well be.

      *Virtual since we have no premises and meetings are mainly online.

      1. MrBanana

        Re: Not dead yet

        Email list based groups are fine for a small level of traffic. Once the number of emails per day gets above a certain limit then you have to invest time in curating the input, via email rules, switching to daily digests, or other mechanisms to control your inbox. It's much easier to deal with the data deluge using a forum based system that has a topic subscription mechanism and other ways to manage notifications. It may be OK when it's you, Nigel and those two other blokes from down the pub, but pinned topics, FAQs, shared documents, hosted videos, etc are all reasons why email list groups don't scale well, and forums do.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Not dead yet

          You can do topic subscription on mailing lists. But generally, you just create new MLs when required. Google Groups does a reasonable job of serving both kinds (e-mail and forum) of users.

          Article-based forums à la Reg are fine, I suppose because they're so ephemeral. I haven't looked at any posts elswhere on the forum because it's too much bother.

    3. billdehaan

      Re: Not dead yet

      I'm unable to understand why email groups are pushed into forums

      They're pushed into forums because for nontechnical people, "the web" and "the internet" are interchangeable terms.

      Hell, for most tech support, they are interchangeable terms. I still remember trying to get support for Rogers' (major Canadian telco) usenet server back in the early 2000's, only to find that before I could get past the level one support, I had to explain to the level one support tech what usenet was. Even the knowledgeable ones said things like "oh, I know that, it's like a web board, right?".

      There are wonderful protocols like RSS and NNTP that solve certain types of problems quickly, efficiently, and elegantly. And for the technically inclined (most Register readers would reach the bar), they are obvious. But for the mundanes, the average user on the street, if it's not on the web, or there isn't a simple IOS/Android app for it, they've already lost interest before you can explain the benefits of it.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Not dead yet

        >because for nontechnical people, "the web" and "the internet" are interchangeable terms.

        Like the author of the article's byline; It wasn't TCP/IP that killed off the BBS but the later rise of HTML and the ability to people to host their own forum, effectively distributing the centralised BBS.

        Interestingly, from an information organisation and access viewpoint, many of the HTML/web replacements for BBS's are still vastly inferior to the 1980's dial-up systems - I mean it is 2019 and El Reg have only introduced (simple) conversation threading in its forums.

        1. DCFusor Silver badge

          Re: Not dead yet

          @roland - I was there myself, and everyone here seems to be forgetting that bandwidth was increasing almost as quickly as you could get to the store to buy a new shiny modem. And that ability to host your own site became a lot cheaper with the earliest version of "the cloud", compared to the poor BBS operator who needed all those phone lines - and modems, and on prem hardware.

          Less problems for the big boys (AOL and pals here in the US). *That* version of cloud worked due to the prevailing economic, bandwidth, and hardware conditions.

          These days, with hardware dirt cheap and your "modem" coming with your phone service anyway....not as sure the cloud is as great an idea (Office 3xx anyone?) as when it made TCP/IP worth doing - remember it "wastes" lots of bits compared to just sending them with little to no reliable error detection/correction/resending.

          Hence the development of some up and download programs/protocols (kermit and friends) that accomplished those things themselves, or at least made the attempt. TCP/IP won because it was mostly better, and universal.

      2. Mr Benny

        Re: Not dead yet

        "There are wonderful protocols like RSS and NNTP that solve certain types of problems quickly, efficiently, and elegantly. And for the technically inclined (most Register readers would reach the bar), they are obvious"

        Unfortunately its not obvious to a lot of the current generation of developers who seem to think any network related progamming requirement should be solved using HTTP because the only thing they understand is some high level web library and if you ask them what a socket is they'll say its something you put a plug in and as for the OpenSSL library, forget it, you might as well be talking ancient greek.

        Also the concept of lean and mean to keep down network latency and improve throughput is alien to them and they just don't get the fact that HTTP(S) is hideously inefficient for transmitting small data packets. My previous job was a constant uphill battle with these clowns and their MBA cheerleaders. In the end I was overruled and now they're running half a dozen AWS EC2 instances just to match the throughput of a single rackspace server. Aside from the ignorance, fuckwittedness and general refusal to learn anything seen as "old school" (even though old school still powers the basis of the internet) inherent in dev these days you have to wonder at the enviromental cost of all that extra power required for their ineffecient designs too.

      3. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Not dead yet

        before I could get past the level one support, I had to explain to the level one support tech what usenet was. Even the knowledgeable ones said things like "oh, I know that, it's like a web board, right?

        In the UK, 1st line on a helldesk used to be £12-£15k in government, with the 15k reached after several years of service. IIRC the ITIL recruitment chapter explicitly says don't bother trying to hire anybody competent because they won't work for the minimum wage, and they'd leave quickly if they are competent.

        So if you got somebody who'd heard of usenet in an ITIL enviroment then the recruiter slipped up.

        All first line is there to do is eliminate the most stupid of the calls coming in, or the ones that don't actually work for your company. Managing a servicedesk I was surprised that a good half of the calls were dealt with at the first line, either because the device wasn't turned on, the caller didn't work for the company etc and other easily thinned out calls with maybe a minute worth of troubleshooting. (5 minute call length in total; getting the user to give you their name and the asset number of the equipment can easily take 3-4 minutes if you are conversing with some users)

      4. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Not dead yet

        @BillDeHaan:

        Ahhhh -- I remember the UseNet racks. And no, RSS didn't manage that. Rogers had an agreement with Ryerson, allowing their platforms and connections, providing power and connectivity, allowing Rogers Cx's access. It was a roaring mess of cabling, but it worked.

  2. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

    As things like Reddit just feel to me like BBS reheated for the internet age.

    1. billdehaan

      Re: The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

      Despite being an old fart, I didn't get onto Reddit until about a year ago, when a search for a technical question linked to a Reddit posting that I wanted to follow up on.

      Looking into it a bit deeper, I found that the structure of Reddit follows that of the Usenet more closely than BBSes. It's got a similar hierarchy, similar moderator structure, and similar layout. Also the same problems that historically plagued usenet are still around on Reddit today.

      I found it amusing, since usenet today doesn't really resemble the usenet of 1990 any more, being more of a repository of binaries than discussion groups now. Reddit lets people link to content, and post images/videos as thread starters, but it's more discussion based than usenet is now.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

        Also the same problems that historically plagued usenet are still around on Reddit today.

        You mean AOL users are allowed on Reddit? That's when Usenet really started going downhill.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

          ... surely Usenet had already started going downhill when they let Compuserve users in!

          1. whitepines Silver badge

            Re: The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

            Even more basic. Just regular users would do it in...

        2. billdehaan

          Re: The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

          That was September. That was the month the schools got the freshmen in, and thousands no newbies, with no concept of what's now called netiquette, were dumped onto usenet at once.

          AOL was originally known as "eternal September", because it dumped hundreds of thousands of those users, all at once, onto the system.

    2. Chung Leong

      Re: The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

      How likely are you to meet people who hang out at a subreddit? Members of a BBS typically all lived in the same area code. It was quite normal to have get-togethers. Home visits happen frequently too, as back then BBSes were forums to buy and sell computer parts. The fact that people know each other at a personal level makes the atmosphere very different.

      1. Graham Butler

        Re: The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

        >How likely are you to meet people who hang out at a subreddit?

        Pretty likely if you're on your city's sub. I've met quite a few folks from /r/Edinburgh (where I live) and /r/Boston (where I was seconded for a couple of years)

        1. billdehaan

          Re: The concept is not reall dead if you ask me

          Likewise. In fact, oddly enough, despite my frequenting /r/Toronto and /r/Mississauga, I actually ended up meeting with someone from /r/Pebble to buy a used smartwatch last week.

          Of course, with BBSes, if they were linked (FidoNet, PCBoard, Opus, RIME, or other), you were just as likely to be talking with someone from the other side of the planet as the other side of the street, too.

  3. sgrier23

    BBS's - those were the days

    Greetings.

    BBS, my first florey into the world of connecting a computer to another via the telephone system. I had an Amiga 500 with a super-fast 14.4KB modem - all my mates had a 9.6KB. I could rocket a 1MByte file in just under 5 minutes. those were the days.

    My BBS was called Guru-10, and I had lots of fun connecting and getting files. My mum was always annoyed that the telephone line was in use, so my parents thought about getting a second line fitted - just for me. But, I would have to pay the bill. I thought no, I can't afford that. me, being a student at the time with no money - except my grant.

    With the BBS came FidoNET - the first email system generally available to Joe-Public. Absolutely brilliant, being able to send messages to people and getting replies back. The only issue was that to get the reply back in real time you needed to be connected.

    So, what I needed was a Dialler / Offline Reader system - TRAPDOOR and APRIL were the tools I used. I created a system called AmiPoint v2.1 which automated the installation of these systems on people's Amiga. CU Amiga did a review and said "Amiga Point v2.1 Comms for the masses - exactly as it should be."

    Those were the days, sometimes I wish it was all still like this - especially after receiving 1500 pieces of email junk in a day. time to SELECT-ALL and then DELETE. If its important, they'll email me back.

    1. Richy Freeway

      Hairnett BBS

      I still remember my Fidonet address!

      2:251/56.10

      Haven't tried dialing in to Hairnett BBS to check my main in a LONG time! It's just dawned on me that I still know the phone number too!!!

      1. Laura Kerr

        Re: Hairnett BBS

        So do I!

        2:250/368

        I still have it all archived away; in fact I dug it out a few years ago. Ah, the joys of the phone ringing in the wee hours as the midnight line delivered the mail, and awaiting the next Night Owl CD in the post.

    2. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: BBS's - those were the days

      I used to run (or help run) few TBBS systems back in the 80s on Kaypros (2, 10). Later on I ran the MS-DOS version as well for a company for their support.

      I did also run Waffle on UNIX with a dial up UUCP link for mail and news. Needless to say access to email or Usenet wasn't particularly widespread in late 80s, early 90s.

      Those were the days indeed when incoming text flowed in at 300bps, so you read it more or less realtime.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh yes..

    I remember those days, filled with scouring Byte (no, physical copy, nearly didn't fit through the post flap) for modems because the game then was that local telco charged you a fortune for "approved" modems which tended to be rubbish in comparison of what you could order from the US - after all, if you're in the business of selling minutes, you don't want people to have access to stuff that lessens the duration of a call.

    In those days I started travelling with a screwdriver and some crocodile clips, to bypass all that "we need to have a different plug than the neighbours" malarky that the electrics industry was using too - and, amazing as that sounds, that is still ongoing.

    I cannot count the number of 25pin RS232 boxes I've made with switches for straight and cross over. Thankfully I started just after the rubber cup 300 baud times, but I did have a 1200/75 modem for a bit, upgrading as new standards came out.

    As timing goes, a few days ago I actually came across a manual I wrote in 1989 which contained my then FidoNet address.

    By the way, that was also the first time I became aware of the need for personal computer multi-tasking. It didn't take long before we started using DoubleDOS to run both BinkleyTerm and BBS and have some computing power left for doing other things, but then again, this was in an era where 640k indeed still appeared to be enough (well, ~ish - when we started moving to 286 and beyond, that limit pretty much went too).

    1. PickledAardvark

      Re: Oh yes..

      You could also get fake green stickers for imported modems...

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: Oh yes..

        We ahem recycled them from one product & stuck them on another.....Whistles innocently....

  5. PickledAardvark

    I missed the beginning and almost the end

    I first tried using a BBS in 1995 using the 14.4 kb modem I'd bought to access the internet at home. There were a few hobbyist resources that hadn't moved to the internet and some were better on BBS. But that changed quickly.

    Back in the late 1980s, some work colleagues used a dialup connection to access hensa.micros, a big UK freeware/shareware software archive on JANET. Was this a direct connection or did some BBS operators have gateways?

    HENSA: Higher Education National Software Archive, I think.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: I missed the beginning and almost the end

      I remember getting a 14.4k modem and thinking 'I cant read that fast'. But that was OK as I was on AOL and they took care of that.

      1. Trilkhai

        Re: I missed the beginning and almost the end

        I remember getting a 14.4k modem and thinking 'I cant read that fast'. But that was OK as I was on AOL and they took care of that.

        I remember wanting to upgrade from 14.4 to 28.8 so badly as a teenager that I made a number of charts and graphs to prove to my parents that the up-front cost wouldn't take too terribly long to be surpassed by how much they'd save in AOL hourly fees.

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: I missed the beginning and almost the end

      @PickledAardvark

      I was a HENSA user back in the day,.... but I was working at a Polytechnic, so we were part of the JANET network, so had a direct (ish) connection to HENSA. No idea if it was possible to dial in. We could log in and browse the titles interactively, then once you found something you wanted (I recall getting various Fractal Explorers, and 'Graphics Workshop' from there) , I had to request it with a UUCP file transfer. Once the file arrived, I could then ftp it down to a PC from our VAX.

    3. bartsmit

      Re: I missed the beginning and almost the end

      The big stash of software was Simtel20 out in White Sands Missile Range. The cheapest way to get files was through Trickle, a distributed file forwarding system. "Tell Trickle at Trearn /list" followed by a fetch that would get you the file in 24 hours. The internet was clunky, especially before DNS.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahm the days of non-resume..

    I had a friend who had quite a well known BBS. Some evenings we'd amuse ourselves with clipping "spongers" (people who neglected the unwritten code of ethics that you were supposed to upload a few things as well if you wanted to download). We'd wait until the last 1% was in download and then drop the line. For that to work we'd have to switch off support for Zmodem as that would simply resume on reconnect, which would nullify our dastardy deeds :).

    The spongers soon learned to go elsewhere.

    Just in case you new kids thought being a BOFH was a new idea :).

    1. DJV Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: last 1% was in download

      You are evil and I salute you! Have one on me!

    2. Laura Kerr

      Re: Ahm the days of non-resume..

      Out of interest, which side of the pond are you on? The term that used to get bandied about in region 25 tended to be 'leeches'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ahm the days of non-resume..

        Out of interest, which side of the pond are you on? The term that used to get bandied about in region 25 tended to be 'leeches'.

        Well, it was a (bad) translation from Dutch/Flemish, so there's your answer :). My FidoNet address was FidoNet 2:29/12.xxxx. The former sysop of that node frequents these forums so he'll know instantly who I am, and which BBS I was talking about.

        What astonishes me most is that BinkleyTerm (aka Bink) not only still exists, but is even actively maintained. I thought it was amazing that I got a support (or rather update) request two years ago for software I wrote in 1989, but it appears there's more retained from that period than I realised.

  7. jake Silver badge

    Some would say ...

    ... that the BBS thing started with Community Memory in 1973.

  8. Flywheel Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    OS/2

    When I bought a powerful enough PC (a 486DX IIR) I ran a BBS on OS/2. I went through a few popular packages but ended up with Wildcat which had a great scripting language option. Great fun, and I really miss those sweet singing tones of the modems....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OS/2

      You liar, I bet celebrated like me when you found M0L0 especially when using it late at night.

    2. PDurrant

      Re: OS/2

      wildcat now there is a blast from the past, used in my job back in the 80's

  9. Joe Drunk
    Boffin

    V.32Bis, HST, UART, WWIV, PCBoard, Procomm Plus, Telix, Xmodem/Ymodem/Zmodem, ARC, ARJ, .DIZ.

    I was a hardcore BBS addict.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think I was about the first licensed user of PKARC in Europe :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or the _only_ licensed user of PKARC anywhere :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >I was a hardcore BBS addict.

      Sure it wasn't addicted to hardcore on BBS, waiting 15mins to download half a picture ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        In 1990, it was surprising how, eh, "realistic" some of the ASCII art looked if you were far enough away from the monochrome monitor. ;)

        Ah, the days of GIFs and FLIs... CShow2000 and AAPlay ruled.

  10. brym

    Simpler Times Indeed

    I got online in 98, so a little late to the party lines. But I was a good student of newsgroups (alt's: hacking a phreaking mostly) where alot of the then old hats lingered to offer history and support to newbies like me. Found my way onto hyperterm, and eventually into a few stateside boards. Things like that and messing with war dialling saw my first phone bill come in north of £200. Teen me's thirst for knowledge that month almost gave my mum a heart attack when she saw the bill.

    1. Valerion

      Re: Simpler Times Indeed

      I did much the same, albeit a few years earlier. First phone bill made me a very unpopular child for a while!

      1. Graham Butler

        Re: Simpler Times Indeed

        I got hooked on a dialup MUD before vPoPs were a thing. Reading to London wasn't local....ouch

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember those days, I ran a couple of BBS system for customer support and used quite a few myself using Wards software on CP/M systems. There was very little fake news or other BS on any of them - it took an effort to get fired up and logged on, I never saw any automated access except to download stuff. Mostly it was techies but there were a few chatty systems around like The Well. People were mostly polite in those days, probably because Zuckerberg's younger brothers were wriggling around on the bathroom floor.

  12. davenewman

    And then there was CIX

    1. Graham Butler

      Came with a little ringbound, incomprehensible manual as I recall. I had NO idea what I was doing :D

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Join the club :).

        In those days you had to educate yourself, because help was out there but typically *after* you needed it (equivalent to your telco telling you that all their help articles are on their website, including the one detailing how you get online).

        Still, that's how you learn that you cab learn anything if motivated/curious enough. Still holds true.

  13. jockmcthingiemibobb

    I was lucky enough to be in the same town as Europe's then largest BBS (Almac) so yippee for free local calls.

    1. gryphon

      Almac

      I too was within the Almac local dialling area but also ran my own BBS for a good few years, Sputnik Spitfire. There weren't many people using Spitfire in the UK but it was pretty good. Base software fitted on a 1.2MB disk if I recall correctly.

      Almac were always great and very friendly although if you visited them you'd have to drag Alastair away from his game of Civilisation or whatever was current at the time. :-)

      They were especially good when they started getting the weekly tapes of new software from the US to save the international calls.

      Rather than FidoNet I was on RIME. My sister is still in contact with some of the people she met through RIME all those many years ago. :-)

  14. andy gibson

    Sinclair Spectrum

    I remember going online in the 80s with a Sinclair Spectrum and a 1200/75 modem (VTX5000)

    Aside from Micronet 800 and Prestel there were a few hobbyists running BBSes on BBC Micros and even a Spectrum +3 with external drive.

    Access hours were very limited - usually when the owner had gone to bed. I remember calling one night at 1am, they'd forgot to switch on the kit and the sysop's parents were very irate at getting a call at such an ungodly hour

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Sinclair Spectrum

      I used to fix those, along with Prism 1000\Telemod 2, Prism 2000 Made by Thorn\EMI*, we stocked another one that was line powered & came in a sturdy metal case** & the Voyager 7 or 11 series & it's clones***.

      * Smarter looking, same colour as the BEEB & a single known issue, blown voltage regulator, I think one decided to blow the other regulator on its return & only one was declared by be to be BER.

      **The make & name of which escapes me right now at this hour.

      ***Magic Modem (Which I think came first), Kirk's Enterprise (Our OEM's knock off) after my boss tidied up the PCB a lot, the argument being,

      JP "These tracks are too thin, they always break in shipping."

      CaptainK "It's a design feature!"

      JP "Explain!"

      CaptainK "If the mains fuse blows & they replace it with a screw or wrap it in silver foil the tracks will burn out instead".

      They also attended one trade show & neglected to bring any tools with them, so they had to borrow mine.

      The story of one his younger staff members called Felicia, I will save for another time, unless demand warrants it here in the comments.).

      Many a hazy recall of London trade show trips, including hanging out of a taxi window going around Hyde Park Corner chatting up two ladies in a open topped Merc, alas their car went one way & our taxi went another.

      Icon - Happier days.

      1. hairbear62

        Re: Sinclair Spectrum

        Used to work for CaptainK (KK) back in the day. He was definitely on a different planet on a regular basis :-). This was just after he moved to Wales. I remember the trade shows too. Got married one Saturday and travelled to London on the Sunday for a trade show on the Monday morning. The tight git put us both up in a hovel full of drunk brickies with broken door locks and a strong smell of piss in the corridors. What a honeymoon. Don't remember Felicia, unless that is a codename, or maybe it was before my time. I may need a reminder. I was involved in the Enterprise modems mostly. KK insisted on using an RCA1802 4 bit uP. No interrupts, no stack, no timers and clocked internally at around 800KHz (look it up if you want a good laugh). He couldn't be persuaded otherwise. Oh for a 6502 or Z80 variant. Doing a V22/V23/V21 Hayes modem with speed buffering on that pile of crap was still, I think my finest and most frustrating piece of work in over 35 years as a software engineer.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Sinclair Spectrum

          That sounds like the PCW Trade Show at Earls Court (Travel up Monday, show ran from Tuesday - Sunday) in 86. Our hotel was pretty basic (Boss found out that on a corporate level we could have had the Dorchester for about a fiver per person more than what he was paying & wasn't happy).

          So we probably possibly met at that event (Quite a bit of beer drunk too over that week as per usual) & there was a joint meal between both companies, where Kaptain K. K**k in a seemingly desperate attempt to impress our side asked Felicia (I think she was from the assembly floor & apparently interested in our trainee tech Graham) how she was enjoying her first trip to London from rural Cinderford.

          "It's crap!"

          KKKk looked stunned & pressed on regardless "Why?"

          Her answer stunned everyone into silence mid conversation\mid chew.

          "I miss my boyfriend between my legs"

          I have a very very vague recall for some reason of her or someone (or the threat of) being put on a train back home the next day

  15. irrelevant

    Ah yes. After getting addicted to BBSs, then the quarterly bill came in, I wrote my own BBS software (for the BBC micro, later to be sold by Pace) so people could call me instead..! It worked, but I very quickly had to get my own phone line(s)! That ran for many years, even after I left home and moved to London for a new job; my dad got quite good at rebooting it when necessary.

  16. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Once upon a time...

    Circa very early 1980s, my dial-up access to the pre-Web Newsgroups stopped working. I tried 'everything', but I was offline for days.

    Finally I tried actually listening-in to the telephone line. "The number you are calling has been changed. ..."

    (For some reason, the terminal emulation software of the early 1980s failed to offer voice recognition.)

    I thus learned to extend my troubleshooting techniques to always include all layers of what would later become formalized as the OSI seven-layer model. The root causes of failures are sometimes simply not visible through the screen and keyboard. Very helpful lesson.

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: Once upon a time...

      Be glad you were on that end of the "conversation". A friend was our BOFH when we took delivery of a system from a contractor. It was an (alleged) improvement of a data-collection device, meant to poll a number of remote systems for daily logs. But it just couldn't seem to connect from our office. After a lot of finger pointing and raised voices, my friend thought to clip a "butt set" (lineman's phone) in "monitor" to the line, and heard an exasperated woman "answer" with as close to expletives as a gentlewoman could be expected to use. Apparently the file of numbers to call had a typo for some location, and had been harassing this poor woman with unlimited retries.

      There was a bit of discussion with the contractor about having neither a retry limit nor any log of retries. We did have to wonder how many enemies they had made while testing at their own office, or whether there had in fact been any such testing.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Once upon a time...

        The lesson I learned was "test early, test often" using the butt-set. Great fun back then and what was learned has helped over the years (like actually looking at code and testing then test again).

        There was a BBS I used that went under and the phone company re-issued the number fairly quickly for some reason to some unsuspecting family. I shudder to think how many calls they got from modems looking for the old BBS.

  17. Valerion

    Mis-use

    I remember back in the mid-late 90s I was working for a small provider of Point-Of-Sale systems to a couple of niche industries. We had a requirement from one of our bigger customers to automate the sending of data from his shops to a central system but we had no way of doing it.

    In the end I setup an instance of a BBS on each remote system (forget which one it was now), setup an "end of day" option on the system menu that would zip the data and put it into a specific place, then launch the BBS. Then I wrote a quick VB app to dial into each one and send the keypresses to initiate the download of that file.

    Quite Heath Robinson but worked well!

  18. Martin an gof Silver badge

    Booting

    I think the thing that stood out for me in this article was the bit about resetting. If I understood correctly, when the telephone rang they performed a "cold boot" on the computer and switched the disc motor on. Within a couple of rings (the PDF says the reset circuit had a 30 second grace period) the system was up and running and would answer the phone.

    Fast booting was a given in the early days - I'll never forget the Boo-Beep of the BBC Micro - but that was a ROM-based system, not floppy-based. You'd be hard pushed to get a system up-and-running within 30 seconds these days. I think even my Raspberry Pis are barely within that time, even booting to the command line.

    All good stuff. I first met a BBS at school. We used occasionally to dial-in to the TTNS (The Times Network for Schools) system and join "discussions" with other school children around the country.

    I'm young enough not to have bought my own first modem until the late 1980s. It was a 2400bps Amstrad thing that came with (IIRC) £30 of M&S vouchers! Initially I used it to remote-in to the Polytechnic's bank of modems connected to their VAX system so that I could do coursework (or just read the Poly's message boards, one of which I used to moderate), but I soon discovered the delights of BBSes, though as I was still living with the parents at the time I had to be very careful not to overburden the phone bill. I actually paid real money for a VT100 terminal emulator to run on my Archimedes :-)

    M.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Booting

      "You'd be hard pushed to get a system up-and-running within 30 seconds these days."

      Somewhere along the line we seem to have lost the ability to make things that instantly start up.

      My TiVo takes forever from power-on to being usable, and my (not very) 'smart' TV seems to take longer from switching on to showing a picture than my grandma's 1960s Pye black and white valve TV. At least the smart TV doesn't whistle while it warms up!

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Booting

        You can reduce the boot time of a raspberry pi by dropping things from the OS's autostart system, and it will work somewhat. You can also get shorter boot times on computers with slimmer sets of software. Sadly, that only reduces things to a smaller positive integer number of seconds. Why don't we build a firmware image for raspberry pis whose only purpose is to boot and give whatever capabilities it can in under a second? What do you think we can/should get it to do with that small an image?

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Booting

          There is a whole couple of orders of magnitude difference between switching the power on to an 8-bit micro and it jumping into the 8k or 16k "operating system" permanently memory-mapped in ROM (or, in the case of the BBC Micro, 2x 16k for OS and "Language", and loading probably several hundred megabytes of kernel and services from some kind of storage into RAM. I understand that, but it does make me wonder whether (ignoring ASLR) memory-mapped ROM is even possible these days, and how much difference it could make.

          The Archimeded / RiscPC had a half-way house, of course; 4MB of ROM and then overlays loaded from disc - as and when needed.

          M.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Booting

          "Why don't we build a firmware image for raspberry pis whose only purpose is to boot and give whatever capabilities it can in under a second?"

          Not sure what it was called, but ASUS used to have something in ROM on some motherboards that could boot some sort of minimal image/browser/something, but I never tried it. ASUSGate maybe?

    2. AustinTX
      Go

      Re: Booting

      My assumption is that the modem was left on 24/7, and configured to auto-answer any call. The modem's ONLINE status pin would be used to trigger the computer itself to boot up. Callers would simply need to understand that they needed to wait a bit for the BBS to load and start talking. If that took a long time, one could arrange for the first program run to be a tiny "Hello, please wait a moment while the BBS gets ready" message out the COM port, followed by launching the actual BBS.

  19. Electronics'R'Us
    Thumb Up

    Software tools

    I used the Motorola SPS (as it was then) BBS to get the assembler and linker for the 68HC05 series in the early 90s on a blazingly fast 1200bps modem (it was at work); I had to fill out a questionnaire for their CSIC (customer specified IC) program as the cost of getting the otherwise free tools (a rarity back then). "Describe your perfect microcontroller" - choose various core parameters and peripherals.

    If you have ever wondered where all the different variants of the various 68HCxx microcontrollers came from, this was one reason.

    The part I used (in 1992 as I recall) was a MC68HC805B6, an early flash based part (flash was expensive in them days) which cost (then) over $50 each. I can get far more capable parts today at a tenth or even a hundredth of that. That's progress.

    Oh, the final output of the tool was S Records.

  20. John Doe 6

    Technically...

    ...you can run a BBS over teh internet, the problem is that nobody really want a text only client (but ASCII-porn is still cool).

    1. druck Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Technically...

      You can run one over the internet on Raspberry Pi's, and it's great for those wanting a bit of nostalgia, but...

      ..what gets my goat is a couple of genetic throwbacks insisting on posting to comp.sys.raspberrypi via a Fidonet gateway on a BBS, annoying everyone else by having 90's style flame wars with each other, complete with broken threading, awful non standard quoting and incorrect timestamps - thanks to the ancient BBS software.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Not Really Technically... But here be at least One Avid Way to Avoid the Roads to Nowhere

      Do you See and Realise here be an AI Register BBS?

      And ... Sharing Premium Grade Top Secret Information with Supremely IntelAIgent Systems for Running Futures with SMARTR Almighty Driver Employments/Stealthy AI Researched Deployment is some news all can assume and presume to be fake .... until and unless that is easily proved false and the facility and utility be perfectly true. .... and thereby Realised for Presentation ..... :-) or Desperate Manic Cover Up/Crippling Information Embargo ...... which in this day and age of Rampant 0Days and Rabid Viruses in Live Operational Virtual Environments has the Chance of the Latter Totally Destroyed.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Not Really Technically... But here be at least One Avid Way to Avoid the Roads to Nowhere

        No idea what you're trying to say, but have a +1 for authentic Martian frontier gibberish - a dying skill.

      2. Cliff Thorburn

        Re: Not Really Technically... But here be at least One Avid Way to Avoid the Roads to Nowhere

        How long are ‘D’ Notices valid for?

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: How long are ‘D’ Notices valid for?

          They surely have no validity being discretionary and a self-imposed voluntary censorship?

          "Tis the start of a slippery slope which heads into thoughts of despotism and Type Nero 0Days

          1. Cliff Thorburn

            Re: How long are ‘D’ Notices valid for?

            "Tis the start of a slippery slope which heads into thoughts of despotism and Type Nero 0Days“

            And therein lies the overriding answer, only the implementation of such would be to hide a myriad of devilish deeds, so easily resolved, and avoiding the dire diorama of present woes.

            Still, like many of those innocently and innocuously subjected to expoloitation and experimentation of days past I would prefer to believe were long gone, the show must go on.

      3. Tail Up

        Re: Not Really... to Nowhere

        Not as Prior 2 Presentation as 0ne can imagine, but something that is delivered to The Recipient by ITs own knowledge and intelligence.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Technically...

      ASCII-Porn: First PGP Keys

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Technically...

        Actually, that's an interesting idea. Hmmm..

        :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Technically...

        those good'ole statics...

  21. haiku

    My first "eureka" moment - understanding the concept of McLuhan's global village - came when posting a question (sitting in South Africa) on CompuServe (in Ohio) and receiving an answer (from Holland) ten minutes later.

    For some or another reason this blew my mind, even though I had used FIDOnet for many a year.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      posting a question (sitting in South Africa) on CompuServe (in Ohio) and receiving an answer (from Holland) ten minutes later.

      I had a similar one. A distant relative of a friend who had recently died contacted me via email. He was in New Zealand, I was in the UK. I happened to be online (dial-up) collecting emails (Demon SMTP) at the time and by checking the headers was able to determine that his message took something like six seconds from him pressing "send" to arriving in my inbox.

      Like you, intellectually I knew that this was possible but the true reality hadn't really hit home until that point.

      So much so that I wrote it up in the next issue of the church magazine which I also produced*. The friend was a very long-standing member of that church so the letter from NZ was relevant "news" anyway, but back then I think I was one of perhaps three people in the church (the others being my mother and the minister) who had any kind of online presence, and the whole six-seconds-half-way-around-the-globe thing caught a few imaginations. In those days Airmail was still a common - if expensive - way to get news delivered "quickly", globally.

      M.

      *Computer Concepts Impression, the first three issues by printing stencils on my Epson dot-matrix and running them through the Gestetner, after which we stumped up the cash for a CC Laser Direct laser printer because "it would help me with my degree course" (and avoid printing ink stains on the kitchen table :-)

      The Epson had previously done sterling work printing stencils for my underground school newspaper, though that had been produced using AMX Pagemaker / Stop Press on a BBC Micro

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        A distant relative of a friend who had recently died contacted me via email.

        I'm impressed. Do they have fibre and Gmail in the heavenly kingdom now?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          "I'm impressed. Do they have fibre and Gmail in the heavenly kingdom now?"

          Is this a joke? The original quote reads "A distant relative of a friend who had recently died contacted me". The person who contacted them is "A distant relative of a friend", and the friend had recently died. The relative was alive at the time.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            I might possibly have punctuated it better, but I think the meaning was clear.

            And Gmail probably belongs in "the other place", though of course this incident happened years before G....e was even a twinkle in someone's eye...

            M.

          2. Graham Butler

            I read it the "wrong" way too at first - not unlikely given only downloading mail daily or whatever back in those days. Like receiving a letter from someone who died between posting and delivery.

        2. Chris Fox

          Cloudy

          "Do they have fibre and Gmail in the heavenly kingdom now?"

          According to some they do have a lot of cloud-based services.

        3. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Gmail in heaven

          Hotmail in hell

      2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Printing stencils on the dot-matrix - I remember printing some of my first Green Party leaflets that way.

        Then we managed to acquire an electronic stencil cutter. Clever piece of kit - 2 drums. On one you wrapped a document (printed from ZX Spectrum complete with fancy fonts, and even a few photos pasted on), and on the other you put a special stencil. Start her up, and a detector (with a little light) scanned the input image as it span round while a little spark thing burned away on the stencil. Basically like a low-res photo-copier, but just created a master. Lovely smell of ozone or something while it ran. Major technical advance!

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Met one of those stencil photocopiers at a school once. Cheaper per page than the (wet?) photocopier, but you had to take account of the stencil itself (which came in a roll I think, so didn't have to be especially loaded) which added a start-up cost of maybe 20p. Fine for copying 30-odd worksheets for a class, not so good for anything under about 10 copies.

          Pagemaker and Impression did the photos in-line (in the case of Pagemaker we frame-grabbed with a Watford video digitiser from a camera!) and the quality was pretty good for the day. Left an old ribbon in the printer to eliminate the risk of a jam clogging the pins with bits of waxy stencil.

          Took 20 minutes to print an A4 page as pure graphics.

          M.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          A couple of years ago I rediscovered the artwork for the first leaflets I ever did, on my Spectrum and Alphacom printer!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In 1993 we had a holiday in Hong Kong visiting a friend. The first thing we did was send emails from our friend's terminal to our UK companies in case they wanted to contact us. Up until then we had only used email outwards from the office system that was based on X400. A definite improvement on the expensive brief telex communications of my time in Africa 20 years earlier.

      One evening we could hear our friend's radio in the kitchen with the BBC World service news about an election back in the UK. Walking into the lounge there was a large TV giving a real-time transmission of the same event by BBC satellite. That's when the reality of a shrinking world really hit home.

    3. Graham Butler

      For me, it was sitting in rural Berkshire connected to NASA's photo archive via my Amiga and Mosaic, and downloading a picture of the moon.

  22. frustin

    mono.org

    mono.org still going since 1992 - not many on it now, but it was what facebook is now. But used to have a good 50 users during peak times back in the day, there could only be a maximum of that number.

    1. Groaning Ninny

      Re: mono.org

      Ah, mono. Blast from the past.

      1. frustin

        Re: mono.org

        you used it? my account is 24 years old this year. there's about 15 people that use it fairly frequently still.

  23. IGnatius T Foobar !

    BBS's are on the Internet.

    Some of the better ones allow both telnet/ssh *and* a web interface so you can choose your favorite method of logging in.

    uncensored.citadel.org -- for example.

    And your favorite community BBS is far more tolerable than the ultra-loud gibberishfest of the big socials.

    1. frustin

      Re: BBS's are on the Internet.

      no one on it at the moment.

  24. herman Silver badge

    Facebook BBS

    From Fidonet to Facebook, it is all BBS to me.

  25. herman Silver badge
    IT Angle

    300 Baud - much faster than Baudot RTTY

    How many of you kids had the pleasure of trying to edit a document over a blazingly fast 300 baud modem?

    1. John Gamble
      Happy

      Re: 300 Baud - much faster than Baudot RTTY

      Heh. I had the pleasure of looking over a friend's shoulder as he did just that. We had plenty of time for conversation between keystrokes.

      I didn't have the cash on hand for a computer and modem in those days. By the time I finally got the cash together, modems had improved to the rate of 1200 bps, which meant text could go by so fast on the screen that I couldn't read it in real time! Amazing futuristic stuff.

      (Contrary to some comments above, people were *not* necessarily better behaved then. Rush Dimbulb wasn't that far away in the future, and we had our own not-quite-local paranoiacs to deal with. On the other hand, I did have the how-cool-is-that moment when I suggested a solution for a math problem for a friend of a sculptor in Ireland.)

    2. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: 300 Baud - much faster than Baudot RTTY

      Baudot (Murray) RTTY at 45.45 baud with 7.5 bits/character is slower than 300 baud 10 bits/character, but not _that_ much slower. Yes, I did edit over 300 baud, when there was "bad weather" for 1200. Using DEC's EDIT (then later KED, think: VI, but with slightly less arcane commands). Staying in non-visual mode unless needed, and setting ROWS to something like 4 (rather than 24) when going visual.

      At least nobody I ever met tried to use a "visual mode" editor on a Teletype. :-)

    3. whitepines Silver badge

      Re: 300 Baud - much faster than Baudot RTTY

      I can. For a modern take try vi over ssh to a machine on a severely congested intercontinental link -- preferably satellite of some sort.

      Brings back the memories...and not in a relaxing, nostalgic way...

      1. MrBanana

        Re: 300 Baud - much faster than Baudot RTTY

        As any fule kno, you switch to ed instead of vi when using a slow modem link.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: 300 Baud - much faster than Baudot RTTY

      Not editing a document, but a bit of online chatting on a BBS or two over a 300 baud modem before I upgraded to 1200. I did quite a lot of source-code editing over the 1200 bps connections over the next few years. Learned to save early and often, too.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I ran a BBS using wildcat from my bedroom. My users donated me another modem and paid for another phone line, used Qemm 386 to run two instances on the same PC. When i used to go to the pub and chat to girls about my interests, they always went with my mate baz for some reason. *shugs*

  27. Colin Ritman
    Stop

    Been there, got the t-shirt

    I was running a company BBS (Wildcat! BBS), around the birth of the internet existed,well before my tech company understood what the internet did for us, and before most El-reg experts even started shitting in nappies.

    Having seem the cesspool of fake news, clickbait "journalism" and GDPR screens the internet has become, it's pretty much the end of the internet now it seems. It's really not worth paying for internet access anymore.

  28. Christian Berger Silver badge

    We might see a revival of some of that

    I mean the web is getting increasingly complex technology wise, resulting in less and less browser engines (we're down to two!) and fewer websites. There is a growing discontent with the web as it is currently. You can see that by more and more people using browser extensions to disable Javascript selectively, or to disable trackers and ads.

    There are more advanced terminal standards out there. The Videotex standards (you might know from Teletext, Minitel and Prestel) allow fancy graphics and even sound. In theory you could have something like Youtube on such a system if you extended the standard a bit. (there's official room for extension in the standard!)

    https://github.com/bildschirmtext includes some software including a server and the old xcept code.

    Today we have blazingly fast networks, we can afford doing all the hard stuff on the server.

  29. Bongwater

    Food Fight

    Greatest BBS game ever. If you got the trenchcoat nobody could penetrate that armor and you could just pelt them with sloppy joes or something.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Food Fight

      Legend of the Red Dragon... My god that could cause some arguments!!

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Food Fight

        I've witnessed more than a few legendary friendship battles in LORD. And most of them still manage to this day to have civil conversations.

  30. HildyJ
    Facepalm

    BBS Fail

    I remember BBSs in my personal life, my favorite was The Well, but I also encountered them in my job as an EDP Auditor for a telecom. In those days, at least in the US, the telecom would charge phone calls by the minute based on 32 bit (not byte, don't be ridiculous) call records. We needed a bit for a new service and someone spotted one that the documentation said was not in use and grabbed it (and reprogrammed the switches to use it). It turned out that somebody else had previously programmed the switches to use it to indicate a call of over 24 hours (and didn't document it). When our revenues went down we discovered that BBSs were keeping calls (or trying to keep, calls would off gang agley) going for over 24 hours while moving large files and without the bit the calls weren't getting billed. A kerfuffle ensued.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Road warrior

    I can remember feeling like cool road warrior accessing my bbs mail on a Psion Organiser connected via the serial adaptor to a pocket modem that ran off a PP3 battery. Spent some time dismantling hotel phone sockets to get connected too ;-)

  32. Mike Lewis

    Vic-20 BBS

    In 1984, I wrote a BBS for a Commodore Vic-20 with multiple rooms (message areas), email and an online game. Users could start their own rooms and make them public or private. It was very popular with users spending an average of 70 minutes on it.

    One of my users got me my first job as a programmer, saying "Anyone who can wrte a BBS for a Vic can program!" Thirty-five years later, that same guy now wants me to work with him at Google.

  33. elip
    Pint

    Ward

    I met and hung out with Ward about 8 years back while he was still with IBM consulting for our company on a project. What an incredible person to meet and talk to - he never stops thinking of new ideas and is constantly inventing. Here's hoping he's still out there pushing bits around!!!

  34. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Digital Corp

    There it was. The workstation with modem and a muffler. Quick in the side door, via key escape, I blame BASIC reqs. #beepdoopbedoopbeep #soundlikethenewdoorbellimadeformyexamproject

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In England in 1979 a passing acquaintance begged a room for the night. He then produced an acoustic modem and wanted to get on to various BBS - all in the USA. Given the price of transatlantic phone calls in those days - sorry no.

  36. The_H

    Happy days indeed

    Made some good friends back in the day. Forum-80 Hull, Betelgeuse-5, the old BBC BBS (with Innocence the Sysop). Spent way too much dialling the damn things up, but it was good, clean fun. Amiga 1000 with a Hayes 1200/75/ +1200/1200 modem.

  37. Long John Brass Silver badge

    Fido *woof*

    Ran a Maximus BBS + gateway to a couple of Fido networks(Including the real thing) and many many door games.

    I seem to recall BRE-2000[?] was really popular as it hooked into the Fido dialer allowing raids on other BBS systems

    Was the bulk forum/mail/fido mail thingie BlueWave?

    I clearly remember zone mail hour & the songs the MFM drives + modem made as mail went in and out of that system :)

    Ahhh the good bad old days :)

  38. TheGriz

    BBS Days and Links386 Golf Simulator

    Back in the day, one of my best friends actually had a second dedicated phone line for his BBS named "The Pub" (USA for those wanting to know) and he and myself and some other close knit set of computer nerd friends would play a round of Links386, upload the "recorded play" file to the BBS, and each of us would then download everyone else's corresponding "recorded play" and then play it back in the simulator, and you could basically "watch" your previous round of golf (of which you knew the final outcome/score), but with the added bonus of watching your buddies playing their rounds (which you did not yet know what score they recorded on the course). So it was like playing golf against each other, only not in "real time", but was still fun to do. Heck I still have an old "printed out" score sheet of one of our matches, and I looked at the date on the scorecard the other day and it's March 1st 1993, and realized that was nearly TWENTY FIVE YEARS ago, amazing. LOL

    1. Graham Butler

      Re: BBS Days and Links386 Golf Simulator

      It'll be 26 years in a couple of weeks.

  39. PhilipN Silver badge

    Usenet anecdote

    Tangential but worth recording for posterity.

    A well known guitarist with an avid fan base passed on.

    The next day a whole bunch of new newsgroups had been set up. Purpose? When looking at the list of groups by name in alphabetical order the new ones formed, graphically, the words "Jerry Garcia".

  40. Ole Juul Silver badge

    "I remember"

    I can't recall when I've seen so many posts beginning with "I remember"

    Nice. :)

  41. Chris Johnson 1

    The Common Link

    In Sweden an enthusiast called Ulf Hedlund wrote a BBS system based on the university KOM system. It was called TCL and had strengths in its ability to thread topics and avoid a hierarchical menu system. It was tuned for discussions, so paradoxically I set up a BBS based on it which was a file tank using the fast HST modems which became available in the late 80's. I brought it with me when I moved back to England in 1993. I tried to make it bomb-proof. In 1996 we had a robbery which cleaned out all my tech stuff except for the BBS computers, which were caseless. I no longer had any way of administering it, but it ran continuously for 3 years until the power supply on the server failed.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ham Radio

    My use of BBS was limited to ham radio.

    1200baud (or 9600 if you had an unfiltered audio port on the radio) and it was enough for everything we wanted.

    In the latter years, you did it by simply plugging into the sound card of a PC and using appropriate software to work as a modem, which had the advantage of opening up other modes like SSTV (pictures) too.

  43. Empty1

    Leconfield RCPM

    I never said "goodbye" when I pulled the plug on this - the last SCSI drive died and there was nothing I could do. Started off with 4 or 5 10mb seagate drives

    System was multiuser Turbodos (cpm clone) with the ability to drop out of the BBS bit into the command prompt and use system commands for up/downloading.

    Such good fun.

  44. Troy Tempest

    SysOps ALT-MAN

    Sorry, slightly drifting off topic .....

    - does anyone remember (1990s) a great west of England BBS run by SysOp under the name of ALT-MAN? I forget the name - details please !!!

  45. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Bluewave messaging

    For about two years in my earlier days I had a phone number that could bridge between two area codes. I ran BW transfers between 6 BBS'es on a three day cycle. (There were frequently fairly large transfers).

    Oddly, rather a large portion of my associates these days are the ex sysops (and one still currently active) of those BBSes. Something about geeks sticking together.....

    ---> interestingly enough it was the BBS crew that pulled together my career, my wife, and my current home. All are tied together...

  46. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    Huh.

    Used to run a BBS. You can still find it in old lists published online, or at least last time I looked. It's gone by several names but you might find it as Ophiophile Opus.

    I was in Pennsylvania for the Great Blizzard of 1978. It wasn't the center but still hit is pretty hard.

    I was also in North Dakota for the Great Storm of 1975. Guess I was just lucky. These days I'm in northern California. Meteorologically dull. Don't really even get earthquakes up here.

  47. blakespot

    There has been a telnet BBS resurgence

    There are a lot of BBS out there now, actually. We're in something of a resurgence. The systems are just accessed via telnet, but often are running on vintage hardware by way of a bridge device. I rotate the system I use to "dial in" between Amiga 1000, Apple IIe, Atari 520ST, TI-99/4A, Apple //c, Apple IIgs, and a "new" Tandy 1000HX I setup over the holidays specifically to use as my main BBS-riding machine. Some of the BBS I frequent presently are:

    Level 29 ( bbs.fozztexx.com ), Black Flag ( blackflag.acid.org ), Particles ( particlesbbs.dyndns.org:6400 ), A80sAppleIIBBS ( a80sappleiibbs.ddns.net:6502 ), Cottonwood BBS ( cottonwoodbbs.dyndns.org:6502 ), Heatwave BBS ( heatwave.ddns.net:9640 ).

    I talk a bit about my BBSing in this post (among others) on my blog: https://bytecellar.com/2017/05/30/the-wonderful-wifi232-bbsing-has-literally-never-been-easier/

    Some of these BBS have an actual dial-up line as well, but most are telnet only. Try it - it's great fun!

    bp

  48. Tail Up

    Some flood to ur punch cards: @TBL

    How do you find the idea to "switch off the IN" in some definite countries?

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