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Remembering the BBS 491

Posted by michael
from the back-in-the-day dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "Nice reminiscence about BBS's, back in the day and all. Author describes them as "Where a teenage loser could lose himself", which for me would have been pretty accurate. I still miss being able to find cool ASCII graphics, text-based RPG's, and the Anarchist's Cookbook all in one place."
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Remembering the BBS

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  • L.O.R.D. 4 l1fe!!!!

  • ANSI archive sites? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antdude (79039) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:39PM (#3620414) Homepage Journal
    Speaking of BBS' (fun days!), does anyone know if there are Web sites that keep ANSI art archives (with search engines)? I am trying to find cool ANSI arts that I used to love. I even drew a few (not that great) I regret not keeping them. I miss them. :(

    Thanks in advance. :)

    • Check out www.ice.org
    • by rodbegbie (4449) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:45PM (#3620445) Homepage
    • by Slothy (17409)
      The problem is that ansis nowadays exist as gif and png's. Sending lots of people to all try to download 200k files off some smaller-bandwidth server is suicide.

      But with that in mind, www.ice.org [ice.org] has all of the iCE Packs online, and even some pre-pack ansis (since iCE began in 1990 but groups didn't start releasing packs until around 08/1992). You can search for art there, but only among the iCE work. ACiD still has a website, but that seems to be down now. But their artpacks site is still online, with lots of old packs (not viewable on the web, so you'll need an ansi viewer) at here [acid.org].

      There is a more comprehensive web-viewable ansi archive of almost every major pack ever released, but it appears to be down right now. Check www.idledreams.net sometime in the future to see if it's come back online I guess, that's probably what you want.

      Slothy
      (disclaimer: I help run iCE)

    • Probably the most famous would be ice.org [ice.org] with archives from the current day to way back [ice.org] when..
    • by BrookHarty (9119) on Friday May 31, 2002 @08:51PM (#3620796) Homepage Journal
      On WWIV BBs's, you could include an Ansi signiture. I put a fake "SysOp Chat mode Enabled" then pretrended to hang up them and pause. I dont Remember exact WWIV chat, but it was something like. And I put pauses between keystrokes, to fake a real person. :)

      [SysOp Chat Mode Enabled]
      Hey There, I have to remove your account, Nice knowing ya. :)

      +++
      NO CARRIER

      Ahh the good ole days. God a few nasty emails about that.
  • Flashbacks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KFury (19522) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:40PM (#3620415) Homepage
    Flashbacks of:
    • ANSI animations
    • 300 baud connections even a 14-year-old could outtype
    • when it was still called 'Elite'
    • Telebit 2500 was the coolest thing in the world
    • until the HST Dual Standard
    • Making a 1-line Hermes board on my mom's fax line in the off hours
    • and getting people calling all night
    • The guy with the spare VAX and a 16-line BBS was tha coolest pimp in tha Valley.

  • by Roadmaster (96317) <roadmr@tome c h a ngosubanana.com> on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:43PM (#3620426) Homepage Journal
    back then the sysops were real men and the users looked up to us in such admiration.

    On-line games such as trade wars were great, where you'd plan group strategy through mail and then log in at stepped, agreed-upon times to carry it out.

    Back then, on systems with 2+ lines, multi-person chats were the big thing.

    QWK packets were fantastic for reading messages off-line and freeing up the bbs for someone else. I kinda miss them now.

    Also, networks like FIDONet were an incredible mess to set up (have seen few things so complicated since then), but once they were up and running it was incredibly fun and satisfying to exchange messages with other local boards, as well as with the guys from other countries.

    And then the internet came and killed it all!

    heheh
    • In fact my good friend still maintains a BBS. It's not as complete as it used to be, but it certainly works and there are a couple of good games of BRE, L.o.R.D., and Trade Wars 2002 going.

      http://answeringmachine.org
      telnet to bbs2.answeringmachine.org
    • by Bastian (66383)
      More than anything, I miss NeoNet. 'twas like FidoNet, only it was restricted to my area code. There was a sense of community there I haven't seen replicated anywhere else.

      *sigh*

      -handler
    • Oh god, I've been waiting for this article for years. There is little more satisfying than gaining another level in Legend Of The Dragon, or giving your character a venereal disease visiting the prostitutes in Usurper, (heck, when I first played usurper I didn't know the meaning of venereal or usurper.) I remember the sheer glory of becoming friends with a sysop and becoming a co-sysop, being able to change things, snoop around, and all that. But none of that could compare to my discovery of Warez on a BBS. I remember all of the secretive glances shared by those of us at the local BBS picnic who had access to the Warez section of one of the BBS's, and that wonderful feeling of superiority. I think I ended up actually successfully downloading one warez game, Sim Ant, but it wasn't so much what you did do, it was what you could do, and the smugness, never estimate the power of smugness.
    • I liked Trade Wars and all, but my favorite WWIV games were Dominion, Leech, Pimp Wars, and Dick Wars. :-)

      I have a friend who wants to port WWIV to the web: WWWWWIV. I don't even know how you would pronounce that..
    • I think what really killed the BBS systems had to do with the following reasons:

      1. The decision in 1992 to commercialize the Internet. That made commercial public access to the Internet really explode in popularity, to say the least.

      2. The development of the Mosaic web browser to access the World Wide Web in the early 1990's. That made Internet navigation very easy to do, and indeed that's how much of the world access the Internet nowadays--through a web browser.

      3. The arrival of operating systems with easy-to-setup Internet access. Depsite what many people here on /. think of Microsoft, you have to admit that the inclusion of dial-up PPP access for Internet connections in Windows 95 was a major factor in the explosive growth of Internet usage.

      • 3. The arrival of operating systems with easy-to-setup Internet access. Depsite what many people here on /. think of Microsoft, you have to admit that the inclusion of dial-up PPP access for Internet connections in Windows 95 was a major factor in the explosive growth of Internet usage.

        Systems with easy to set up access predate Win95's inclusion of dial-up PPP. What MS's inclusion of that dialog did is bring the internet to those people who would keep using MS regardless of if it had good internet capability or not (and that's a very big group). So, yes, it has a lot to do with the popularity of the internet, but not quite in the way you implied.

        Wanting good internet capability is what first drove me *off* of Windows and into Linux. (Back in the day when internet connectivity in Windows mean using Trumpet Winsock.)

    • The internet didn't begin in the '90s. It predates the BBS stuff you refer to. Saying "And then the internet came and killed it all!" makes no sense to me.
      • by Chasuk (62477)
        While technically you are correct, the Internet did indeed kill BBS's. Yes, BBS's didn't get their start until the early 1980's, which the Internet long predates, but vitually no one had Internet access at home until the early 1990's, after which BBS's rapidly declined.

        However, the Internet was not the only killer of the BBS scene. BBS's were also killed by their own popularity. In 1986, it was possible to have intelligent, literate conversations on BBS's, but this had become nearly impossible a few years later. Why? The invasion of punks. The trolls, the flamebaits, and the emergence of "doodz."

        I was a SysOp for many years, and as soon as the nicks and handles started to become WizzyTheOrgasmicGod and CyberFucker, I knew the end was nigh. I'm sure that others can recount similar stories about IRC and Usenet.

        Those were the days...
    • My BBS currently has tradewars and other classic door games: telnet://bbs.icebalm.com

      Up until recently I had fidonet aswell, which is still around however mired by a hypocritical backwards thinking administration. :/

      -- iCEBaLM
  • by The FooMiester (466716) <goimir@endlessh i l ls.org> on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:45PM (#3620451) Homepage Journal
    I used to call 30 some boards a day, was a co-sysop on one, was a moderator somewhere else. What did it all get me? A great sense of nettiquite. You didn't DO things like quoting entire messages, you trimmed down forwards. Not doing such things at 2400 baud made things slow. Yes, I too long for the simpler days, and I can access them again. Any decent site worth looking at is browsable in lynx. Use the command line FTP client once in a while instead of typing ftp:// into mozilla. THAT is what computing is all about, simplistic ease of use.

    I was a BRE champion, at the expense of my learning to program. Ahh well, c'est la vie. I debated the locals in the "politics" conference in the message section of the board. Once in a while, I'd download a few games.

    Today, I'm viewed as a crumudgion who likes things archaic. Even my IRC friends think so, and IRC people tend to be old school. It saddens me, most of them only remember when 28.8 was fast.

    What an incredible waste of time.
    • Thank God - I thought I was the only guy who thought like this. Back to mutt and my plain text emails....
    • I'm one of those people that only remember 28.8 being fast. (I had a comodore, but we never used the modem we had, and even if we did, I didn't know any places to dial into). But you'll be happy to know that there are some (like me) who don't think you're all that eccentric. Any site I create is basic text and if nessesary, graphics. No Java, no Flash, nothing but straight HTML. I like things simple because it's less garbage that has to load, it's less stuff I have to deal with (anyone besides me hate waiting while some stupid flash animation loads just to go into the main site). Sure it's cool for some sites, but most would be better off simple.

      By the way, if you're looking for a decent text RPG, telnet your way over to tsunami.thebigwave.net
    • by Reziac (43301) on Saturday June 01, 2002 @12:14AM (#3621381) Homepage Journal
      Actually, I've noticed the same thing: BBS users (at least those who participated in the major QWK networks) grew up polite, because the sysop had total control and if you were a jerk, out the door you went -- and thanks to callback verification, assholes could be blocked permanently. And most of the QWK networks are still moderated. Even so, some boards had local flame wars that make today's Usenet look civil!

      Thanks to telnet, BBSing is a long way from dead. Check out http://www.dmine.com/bbscorner/ (formerly housed at thedirectory.org) for a slew of sysop resources.

      Thanks to the gov't snoop issues increasingly encroaching on internet email, the BBS may well eventually make a comeback -- log in by dialup and use the QWK/REP system for email, and your messages never touch the net. With a highly secure system like Wildcat 4.x, no one can see them but the intended recipient and the sysop. (Know thy sysop. :)

      Oh, our BBS isn't dead yet either, and we're still purely dialup. Earthquake City BBS (online since 1995), 818-368-3337, 2 nodes at 33.6, running Wildcat 4.2 on Netware 3.20, QWK-by-email available. [/shameless plug by co-sysop-at-large] :)

  • by 00_NOP (559413) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:45PM (#3620452) Homepage
    People really should have looked at BBSes and said "err, no money is ever going to be made out of this internet thingy".

    Why did people do them? For fun, but so many of them closed down because the owners ran out of cash (or their wives told them they'd run out of cash and a lot more besides unless they shut them down).

    They were fun, sure, When I got my first modem (94 or so) I used to visit them as much as I'd use my IP connection, but as soon as they started to charge I was outta there.

    All sound familiar?
    • Actually, I ran a multiline BBS (Chicago suburb) for years, and I made money the last 2 years of it (actually a profit at that!).

      I was lucky though, all of Chicago was the local Bell, but my suburb was one of 2 that used Centel. I was getting phone lines for like $8 a month (no dial tone, etc), so for 8 nodes it was $64. Since I charged $5 to $15 (depending on usage) we did pretty well, I think we were up to 175 subscribers at one point in time, and pulling about $600 a month profit.

      The co-sysops worked for free time, and there was VERY little maintenance.

      And BBS pussy, while few and far between, was still pretty rad for a 15 year old geek sysop...

      I really do miss those days. Competition was real, but the friends were, too.

      Bimodem Leech was good stuff...

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Saturday June 01, 2002 @01:36AM (#3621562) Journal
      I ran my BBS for over 10 years, in one form or another. During its "low point", I was stuck with only 1 phone line and a system shoved in a bedroom closet because the apartment I was living in would only allow a maximum of 2 phone lines - and we needed a voice line.

      Despite all that, I put up with a *lot* to keep it running, but never looked at it as some sort of "business model" for making a monetary profit.

      I also wouldn't say it was "just for fun", because believe me - staying up all those late nights validating users, correcting spelling mistakes and incomplete file upload descriptions and keeping everything updated wasn't exactly a picnic.

      There was a sort of profit to it, but it was more intangible. For me, it was the thrill of going to the local computer store and having techs come running out of the back room to meet me when they heard I was the sysop. It was the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting and intelligent people I've ever run across (some of whom are still good friends of mine today). It was the personal satisfaction of knowing I was doing something that enriched so many other people's lives in some small way.

      Near the end, yes, I did gladly accept donations and even did optional "subscriptions" that bought the user some extra online time and download credits -- but I never so much as broke even on it. I never expected to. Most hobbies are like that. If there's a mistake people were/are making with Internet sites today - it's being too obsessed with making it into a business. Do it because you enjoy and love it, and because the mere presence of it satisfies you in some personal way. If you do this, the money may well follow.... but people can tell if your heart is in a given web site or not.
  • by ProfMoriarty (518631) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:46PM (#3620458) Journal
    WWIV has been around for many years now ... and it's still up and running over at Eagle's Dare BBS [wwiv.net]

    The latest software, v4.30, combined with fossil drivers for Windows (new in v4.30), and with a virtual com port software (COM/IP) ... creates an online BBS, that can be accessed like a website ...

    Please note that I currently don't have a board up ... since I don't have 24/7 access ... yet.

    • "... and it's still up and running over at Eagle's Dare BBS [wwiv.net]"

      you just dont say that on /.

      [aarsathe@morbo aarsathe]$ telnet bbs.filenet.wwiv.net
      Trying 162.33.159.251...
      Connected to bbs.filenet.wwiv.net.
      Escape character is '^]'.

      BUSY
      Connection closed by foreign host.

      OMG! a /.-ed bbs server :)
  • I miss them too (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sheetrock (152993)
    We had a pretty thriving BBS community in our area, but naturally all the best boards were long distance. It's kind of strange to be able to access a server in Australia within seconds now without even thinking about what the line charge is going to be, or chat across five or six countries simultaneously, but there's been something lost in the transition between the boards and the Internet. I've never really felt the sense of community on a website, and nothing really seems to have the same sense of cool. Maybe I'm idealizing it, but communication over a network that wouldn't synchronize more than once every day or two seemed more fun for some reason... maybe people used to think more before posting?
  • I didn't notice, there are still some around, I actually played some door games TODAY.
    I wish BRE didn't have broken year 2000 stuff though.

    They are just the gated communities of the online world. They may evolve, but I think they'll stick around in one way or another.
  • ah fare thee well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by llamalicious (448215) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:47PM (#3620468) Journal
    my good friend TheDraw !
    • Re:ah fare thee well (Score:3, Informative)

      by phraktyl (92649)

      Actually, there's a version out for Linux now called DuhDraw:

      DuhDraw is a program which almost perfectly simulates TheDraw for DOS. Back in the good old BBSing days, TheDraw was a program used by a SysOp in order to draw ANSI screens, the only graphics available on BBSes for quite a while. However, for a long time, nobody considered Linux, as Linux BBSes were uncommon. Other applications of the software include login screens, and mud screens. I always thought it ironic that MUDs were mostly run off of Unix machines, and yet they used DOS editors to generate the ANSI screens.

      http://www.wwco.com/~wls/opensource/duhdraw.php [wwco.com]

  • Aw, man, just reading that article brought back some serious memories. In my case, I wasn't in the Jersey area, but New Orleans. We had the "Assassin's Guild", the "Octagon", the "Bates Motel". Those were some good days.

    I remember when Proving Grounds was taken seriously (I once had a Vorpal Blade), and, then when TradeWars and FoodFight came out, I thought online gaming had gotten as sophisticated as it was going to get.

    A lot of things are better these days, but I really do miss the quality of the posting. You were in a little culture of about 100 people, and you knew them all pretty well (even if they called themselves the "Dead Kennedy" and "PhonePhreak"). There were some quality political discussions back in the day, and the people would ally on the traditional idelogical grounds.

    Ok, maybe I'm sounding like an Old Fart (TM), but I miss those days too.

  • Nostalgia (Score:3, Insightful)

    by silvaran (214334) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:52PM (#3620497)
    sigh... those were the days. I remember terms like SysOp, Co-SysOp, etc. You could page the SysOp and talk one on one (that was cool!!!), the sound of the modem connecting (replaced by the weird pings of now slow-compared-to-broadband 56k modems). I remember how excited everyone was when a sysop would add another "node" to the system, either through DesqView with QEMM under DOS or by using a fossil driver and running Windows.

    I miss things like PCBoard and ProBBS... those were the days. Now, with the Internet, not only can anyone hide behind a mask of anonymity but anyone with half a brain (or half a paycheque) can connect to the Internet.

    You know what? BBSes were far less commercial (depending on what services they provided). I remember a friend of mine down the street ran a BBS when he was 13 (I did quite a bit of ANSI and ASCII art for him, sloooow over a 2400 though, better at 14400). Back then, advertisements were things you saw on TV, magazines, bathroom stalls (er, scratch that last one).

    I remember briding the child internet and aged BBS gap with "virtual" connections: a telnet driver that would respond via the internet and send "RING" or "CONNECT" strings to the running BBS so you could have numerous nodes on one machine through multiple telnet connections.

    Now we have popup removals, filter proxies, all to try and eliminate if not reduce the barrage of banners and animations on just about any even remotely-commercial web site out there.

    For many people, the hardware technology itself is the same. It's become slightly faster, but you still get your roommate or family member off the phone so you can wait for dial-up, then log in and check your mail. Only now you're responding to the world (neglecting FIDONet, but I had a few problems with that in the past).

    The best was to download 1000's of E-Mails from one system for reading off-line, repackaging the .zip file and upload to another BBS as a response. Then again, now we have spam... hmm... which one is better, the 'net or BBS's? The question is becoming more ludicrously rhetoric the more I think about it...
  • by Embedded Geek (532893) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:52PM (#3620498) Homepage
    Check out textfiles.com [textfiles.com] for dumps of a lot of old BBS stuff. I stumbled across it while looking for documentation on the XMODEM (yes, xmodem) protocol.
  • This is old news, but it's been updated recently, and it might bring back that BBS feel: Star Wars in ASCII [asciimation.co.nz].
  • PC Pursuit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pgrote (68235) on Friday May 31, 2002 @07:59PM (#3620542) Homepage
    There will be nothing like BBS again. The internet has superceded it in some areas and has faltered in others.

    File downloads are clearly better on the internet, as are games.

    Message boards, though, suck on the internet. There are islands of information our there, but nothing like it should be. For instance, for HTML help I go to one message board, for domain name advice another and to web hosting even another one.

    Everyone remember Interlink, Fidonet, WWIVNet, RIME (PC Relay), etc? These were message networks that were all inclusive. Every topic under the sun was available and the messages were public. You could download your messages using a QWK compatible door and read them offline. Those were the days.

    The closest thing we have now is USENET, where the noise to signal ratio is too high.

    PC Pursuit is another vestiage of the BBS age. It was a service by Sprint that allowed you to X.25 into other POPs around the country for a low monthly fee. For instance, I could dial my local sprint number, connect to a pad in Boston and jump on Channel 1 with no long distance.
    • "File downloads are clearly better on the internet, as are games."

      That's debatable. While nothing compairs to doom, quake, or counterstrike. There's something about TW2002, L.o.R.D and others. They were just fun.

  • Computer Shopper (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jag164 (309858)

    I remember getting the "Computer Shopper" every month, flipping to the back, and hoping to find a new BBS that was a local call away from my back woods town. Never happened. *sniff*

    Thirty minutes of long distance calls a month was all I could afford at the time. I missed out on most of that grande era.


  • Other than the anarchist cookbook, I found that "mit lock-picking guide" from the BBS too.

    I wonder if there's any "updated version" of these things ?

    Teaching kids how to make anthrax or nerve gas, perhaps ?

  • by telstar (236404) on Friday May 31, 2002 @08:04PM (#3620574)
    CiA [creators.org]

    iCE [ice.org]

  • My geek story: Wow, this topic brings back some memories. I came in on the tail end of the BBS era, the early 90's just before the Internet entered the public consiousness. I had discovered The Pen and Brush in the Washington, DC area and logged in nightly for several weeks. One Friday night a friend was giving a party and I thought it would be fun to share with my friends. So I packed up my laptop, external modem, and all the cables and brought them along. I set up the computer on the kitchen table and was ready to show my friends the cool BBS. They all smiled politely and went back to their partying. I was amazed that everybody didn't want to join in, and I started to wonder what might be wrong with them.

    To Lucia of the P&B: thanks for the memories. I still think of you whenever I type a smiley.... you were the one who told me about them. :-)

  • What's missing? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sfgoth (102423)
    I still miss being able to find cool ASCII graphics, text-based RPG's, and the Anarchist's Cookbook all in on place.

    You mean, like Google [google.com]?

    -pmb, former 80's sysop.
  • Land of Confusion, The Diamond mines, Wild Wild West, Triumvirate, etc (Pittsburgh BBSes if you are confused)

    These are where I cut my teeth. I downloaded the dos a86 assembler and learned to program. I set up Telix and downloaded with zmodem and h/s link. I entered a world where people had vastly different views than mine and I interacted with them and learned from them. Unlike the cold heartless internet, these were communities. That place, 10 years ago at the age of 14 is where Mark Earnest become finkployd :)

    Never since has computing and networking been such fun.

    Finkployd
  • Hehehe ... BBSs are what got my hooked on computes in the first place. Starting frequenting them as a freshman in high school in 1991. PLaying Doors and downloading files. Tradewars was a fun game. Also used a BBS to pick up a homecoming date or two, and my first girlfriend :)

    Learned to suck up to the SysOps of the "elite" WaReZ BoardZ by creating animated ANSI logos for their sites and for the ZIP comments. -=2i6=- RulEz!

    I used to frequent the BBS of the dude, Jim something or other (Barry?) who wrote the Searchlight BBS software. His BBS was called Flip Flop. I chatted with him once or twice online.

    BBS were also my first real introduction to porn.

    Ahhh, the memories. Managed to suck up to one SysOp well enough to be come his Adult Section SysOp at the ripe old, adult age of 14. People would upload the files, and I would have the really tough job of reviewing the new uploads; if the files were good enough, I approved them and gave the uploader ample credit so he could download new files from the adult and warez sections. Tough job, but someone had to do it.

    With a 2400 modem I now understand why my mom was pissed about me tying up the phone line all night long, every night :)

    I used to have to bum rides home from high school sometimes, and I could usually count on one of my teammates to give me a ride back home - I just had to pass him a floppy of the previous days' porn uploads :)

    I was just remembering today about how JPEG and GIF were just becoming popular, and my 386 SX-25 took like 10 seconds to display the damn picture files.
  • You know you're an old fart when it took you a *WEEK* to download Linux at 2400 baud from a BBS.

    And the sex you get from the Internet isn't like the sex you had from the BBSes...

  • I used to be very active "back in the day", myself. At one point around 1994 or so, I had accounts on upwards of 100 BBSes, just in my area code (610)!

    I remember one day, I dialed into a WWIV board (Innovations BBS), and went through the signup procedure. The system said, "Your User Number is: 2", which I found interesting. 5 seconds later, the SysOp (Bob Pacifico) brings me into chat mode and tells me, "You're my first caller!".

    I spent a couple of fun years on that BBS, making friends with folks, uploading files, participating in networked message bases, and playing door games against people from other BBSes. Barren Realms Elite, anyone? :-)

    Eventually, in 1996 I discovered the Internet and kind of made the transition to it. I called less and less BBSes, and eventually stopped calling all together.

    *sigh* I'll miss those days...
  • I'm curious if there is a site out there like classmates.com , where people can register and associate themselfs with BBS' within the archive?

    If it's not, I think it'd be a worth while (and simple) site to set up. I know I'd be more than curious to see where some of my (at the time) fellow 12 year old Tele-Arena cohorts are today.

    Toilet Duck (1994-1998) - 619,858
    DreamNet BBS
    DragonDreams Elite
    MCS BBS
    LDC
  • It's funny this comes up now, because I was talking to a fellow modemer from the old days yesterday, talking about possibilities:

    1. Take an old 486 running DOS and a multinode BBS package with a multiport serial card.

    2. Take a modern PC running Linux with a cable modem or DSL connection and a multiport serial card.

    3. Write a program that acts as a login shell. When a user logs in under that special account, it checks for a free serial port and, emulating the behavior of the sort of modem the BBS software on the DOS box expects, sends the appropriate RING string. Once the BBS answers, the program just passes data back and forth between the serial port and the net.

    Result: an Internet capable BBS system that would have been the envy of the town back when you had to buy multiple phone lines to support this sort of thing.

    Of course, it may be some time before I have a couple of spare weekends to code this (and perhaps longer to review serial programming under Linux), so if you have the time and the expertise, beat me to it!
    • You don't need all that. The various getty type programs can be configured to run a BBS type system, with as many nodes as your server and connection can handle.

      Maybe you were aiming for running vintage software, in which case this may not be the way for you to go. If you just want to run an IP based BBS, go look at the selection of linux BBSs.
  • by singularity (2031) <nowalmart@gmail. c o m> on Friday May 31, 2002 @08:38PM (#3620751) Homepage Journal
    I was very active on several BBSs in the 502 area code (Louisville, KY). I had some SysOp privs on some of the boards and even had access to a FidoNet feed. My handle was "Merlyn" (once I got on the Internet, someone was already using that on IRC, so I had to change it - thus my Slashdot user ID of "Singularity" with UID #2031)

    Once a month (first Saturday of the month) we would have a physical meeting (called "The Meat") at a local mall.

    I remember being envied for my 2400 baud modem hooked up to my Apple //gs.

    This was about 1991-1993 or so.

    I have not talked with any of those people since. Is there any website devoted to reuniting (as it was) any people from these boards?

    I did a simple search a few months ago, and foud a few dead message boards dedicated to boards that were mainly out in the Bay Area, but nothing more than that.
  • Memories (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DigitalDreg (206095)
    That brought back many familiar memories. I lived in Queens NY, which used to have the 212 area code. This was before the great split to 718. Of course back then, we didn't have flat rate billing either - it was something obscene like 10 cents a minute.

    My machine was a PCjr with 128KB, single floppy drive, and a Hayes 1200. It's amazing how nice the carrier signal sounded. The Hayes 1200 was a beautiful piece of machinery - brushed aluminum, with the black bezel and red lights. Solidly built, to have the old Western Electric desk telephone sitting on top of it. Once you were connected to a BBS, what machine you had didn't matter - C64s, Apples, Commodores, etc - they all joined the party.

    Remember PC Board? FidoNet? Doors? File download areas that were meticulously organized? Downloading ratios? Sysops with "god" power? Sysops that you could actually talk to using a "Page Sysop" function of the software? ANSI graphics?

    In 1984 a friend and I (John N.) decided to write our own BBS software. The first verion was horrible, but then again so was the language. (Interpreted BASIC.) The second and third versions were so much better - compiled ZBASIC with embedded assembly code. The software ran for two years on another friends computer. (Nick S.) The phone number was 997-1189. I'll never get that out of my head.

    Using BBSs and trying to write one taught me a lot, not just about computers either. It was a great experience - much more personal that the Internet is today.
  • by Jason Scott (18815) on Friday May 31, 2002 @08:43PM (#3620775) Homepage
    http://www.bbsdocumentary.com [bbsdocumentary.com]: The BBS Documentary, currently in production.
    http://bbslist.textfiles.com [textfiles.com]: My list of BBSes, ever growing, and needing your help (and lists).

    - Jason Scott
    TEXTFILES.COM
  • Text RPGs? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Atryn (528846)
    You miss Text RPGs? How can you miss them, there are still thousands of MUDs out there, which are pretty close to old text RPGs and very multiplayer...

    Such as Moral Decay [131.247.113.1]
  • I have an extra phone line and want to start up a BBS for fun (and geek bragging rights).

    Can anyone recommend a software package? Requirements:

    Must allow IP connections in some way (within itself or via addon package)
    Must allow modem dial in connection
    Should be easy to administer (lazyness)
    Can have GUI interfaces in addition to text.

    Any OS is fine, even DOS and OS/2 :)

    Anyone have a recommendation?
    • Well, if you're pretty good with linux, you could try dosemu under linux and run any old dos based BBS software under there. I searched around and found this [tux.org] post on the tux.org. Some further searching took me to the Linux BBS FAQ [telematique.org]. Enjoy!

  • How could the /. crowd forget bbs.ufies.org? :-)
  • by deaddeng (63515) on Friday May 31, 2002 @09:09PM (#3620855) Homepage
    I saw the story, read it, and then expected to find what I've come to expect in the discussion-- a bunch of yahoos who hadn't even read that wonderful piece.

    I then I saw the magnificent posts (sorting by highest score) and other stories, and felt like the first time I found /.

    yeah, I'm a little drunk.
  • Or those Commodore 64 losers.

    Well. That was rather messed up. Our schools had either apple2 or c64s. I personally bought a C64, Thing was great, 40 col BBs'ing was lame. A few terminals came out that would split the blocks into 2 letters, so you could try to emulate 80 column.
    Migrated to a 128D, running DesTerm I was able to get Ansi, 14.4 baud, and 80 columns. Then Amiga+Tcp later....

    Hell, the C64 scene was larger then atari, mac combined, it still goes on today! They still have Demo parties for old C64 hackers. Scene Music [scenemusic.net] I still listen to music from the old days, Giana Sisters(Chris Huelsbeck), Rob Hubbard, etc.. The BBS was my way of reaching the UK scene from the US, The real computer gurus. Strange thou, the family up the street, wrote Myst. Strange Strange world.
  • by dada21 (163177)
    What a great link [wired.com] of an old Wired article. How to make millions running a BBS.

  • Just thought I'd ramble... I practically grew up on the bulletin boards like many of us here.

    In my opinion, what really caused the demise of the BBS wasn't the internet like most people seem to think -- it was purely the introduction of people who didn't care anything about how or why things worked. This may be fine, and yes, things should "just work" without having to know the ins and outs of things (see The Invisible Computer, ISBN 0262140659 [barnesandnoble.com]), but that's not the point of my rambling.

    I began noticing a HUGE shift in the local BBS audience when the first multi-line chat boards started appearing. They became immensely popular. With 10 telephone lines going in to them on average, people logged in simply to chat (like IRC) with other people.

    Member statistics quickly changed from "geeky male" to "average teenagers" that knew little about the technology other than they needed one to connect chat in the middle of the night. Heck, I remember making fun of people who didn't know what "ATDT" meant.

    It was depressing in some respects. If you didn't have 20 telephone lines and a chat room, your system was doomed for failure. Soon, the "chat crowd" spread to other bulletin boards and the die-hard regular callers, now annoyed, soon gave up trying to post messages or play games. I can remember all of the local bulletin boards that once were popular completely drying up.

    And so it ended in a much much shorter time than it had began. With the emergence and popularity of more online services and finally the Internet, it was only a matter of time until my BBS was the only one left in the 407 area code (and remains so to this day as far as I can tell).

    Thankfully, once the internet hype died down, there has been a small resurgance in the appeal of running a bulletin board system. People all across the globe are either starting new systems or resurrecting their old ones -- and I think it is a welcomed change. As has been often said, the feeling of localness and personability is must stronger than that of the informal and anonymous internet.

    I personally have waited and stuck it out. My BBS has been running for years with all but an occassional caller. It's been not much more than my FidoNET feed for a few years now (which, by the way, I now receive spam through somehow).

    My secret wish is that a new internet protocol will be developed by someone that is somewhere between telnet and http. But until that day, or the next evolution of the internet comes along, my BBS will be up as a telnet system.
  • If you think about it, and this article [eweek.com] sort of confirms, Ward's donation to the public domain of X-modem and other protocols really did kick start an era of communications, without which the Internet may never have propogated at such speed.

  • by Sivar (316343)
    I ran a BBS called "Alternate Reality" in Idaho, USA> It had a whole two nodes which were busy 24/7. I really liked the more personal feel of BBS systems--when someone logged on, chances are they weren't in a different hemisphere and that you could actually meet them in real life(tm), if you hadn't already.
    Few people posted trolls or space filler messages on the boards because their names were know, their numbers could be traced, and my BBS required phone call verification of accounts.
    The online games were nice because most of the players were probably friends that you could call without spending huge amounts on long distance. You could gloat over killing somebody's LORD character or firing a Gooie Kablooie (sp?) at their empire in Barren Realms Elite.

    What is the story of some of the BBSs that other slashdotters have run? It would be interesting to see someone on Slashdot that ran a BBS I logged into many years ago.
  • Get your Montreal, Canada BBS List at
    telnet:juxtaposition.dynip.com
    +1.514.364.2937
  • I remember the first time I "surfed the web," it took a long time to get comfortable with not logging out of a web site. In BBS land, only assholes dropped carrier -- you always logged out so that the BBS could recoup properly. The same gnawing feeling you get when you finish a semester of university and think you should still be doing homework.

    Then there were the days where you could download special software (Excalibur BBS?) and get VGA GRAPHICS from sites! Or how about combing through my modem guide looking for cool shit to stick in my init string (at&Z1=5551212 anyone?) Of course, no feeling of exhilaration quite matched the Telix connect bell after 2 hours of redialing an awesome board

    I also spent quite a bit of time as a sysop. I remember configuring every damn ANSI screen in the config directory, customizing every prompt in the options menu -- it was labour, but watching people enjoy your OWN BBS was a great feeling.

    Chatting was cool, too. Installing the JModem protocol so that you could chat and download, or download and upload. Then again, listening to your PC speaker play Guns n' Roses' "Sweet Child of Mine" as a page tune was often better than talking to ass kissers trying to get Co-Sys :)

  • Textfiles (Score:2, Informative)

    by BtAFMB (574756)
    If this hasn't already been mentioned... Textfiles [textfiles.com] is a huge repository of (mostly) old BBS textfiles. Also web.textfiles.com [textfiles.com] has newer ones.
  • I got my start in network communications running BBSes off my Apple ][+ and Apple //e. We used to call it the golden age of Apple. I ran what was called an AE-BBS and a CatFur BBS (for the Novation AppleCat ][+ modem 1200 baud half duplex -- great for making prank calls with its text to speech feature). Man those were the days. I was young, ignorant of the law and meeting people from all over the United States. It was a great experience even though I couldn't tell my classmates in school I did for fear of being called a nerd and having my rodeo friends beating me up.

    My last BBS was called the PsychedelicCat-Fur BBS in the 409 area code -- Redneck Texas!

  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Saturday June 01, 2002 @12:43AM (#3621452) Homepage Journal
    Arrgh. I am sick and tired of the Slashdot editors pushing this idea that the BBS is a thing of the past. The BBS community is alive and well on the Internet. It's single-line dialup systems that are dead.

    BBS's still provide the greatest sense of a cohesive online community out there. Better than "blog" type nonsense, and certainly better than what the likes of MSN and AOL have to offer.

    I've run UNCENSORED! BBS for 14 years and I'm not about to stop now. [citadel.org] And the 200+ users aren't going to stop logging in, either. Modern BBS's offer access via telnet/ssh or web, your choice. And the Internet-connectedness of it all has made it possible for BBS communities to attain geographic diversity, something which was not possible when you had to deal with long distance modem calls.

    Please, people, let's get the perspective straight. The BBS is alive and well, so stop pushing this "bygone era" myth.

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