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7 hour BBS Documentary Nearly Ready 311

spyrochaete writes "Jason Scott, proprietor of, is nearing completion of his 3-DVD, 7 hour documentary on the history of the BBS. This documentary is 3 years in the making and is a patchwork of nearly 250 interviews spanning hundreds of hours. Trailers and samples are available for download (also available in low quality for you 300 BAUDers out there). Pre-order before Nov. 10 and you can submit a paragraph to be included on a file on one of the DVDs."
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7 hour BBS Documentary Nearly Ready

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  • by Drakonian ( 518722 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:18AM (#10556371) Homepage
    Remember those days?

    I'll be right back, I'm taking Violet upstairs.

    • What about Tradewars!!! The Star-Trek ripoff was the greatest game ever! I used to play every single minute I could on every BBS that I could!
      • I STILL play MajorMUD to this day. It is still being developed by Metro. I think it is basically as a tax writeoff every year for the company that bought them though ;)
      • Ahhh... Tradewars! I truly loved that game. I was quite addicted to it... even used to write my own software utilities to assist me with playing the game. Along with some shareware tools I invested in. I was a force to be reckoned with. When I couldn't find a decent local board to play it on, I started my own BBS. :)

        I played many other "doors" off and on, but none came close to capturing my heart and attentions as Tradewars. EVER.

        Those were the days, to be sure...
    • Play its successor now at []
    • Global War! (Score:3, Interesting)

      Excellent Risk-knockoff. I remember waiting for midnight so that I could be the first to log in and unleash my newly-adquired armies onto the other players.

      • FidoNet (Score:5, Informative)

        by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:20PM (#10557420) Journal
        There was no Internet, but there was a loyal Fido serving us.

        Still remember logging on to BBS, receiving the first New Year Celebration message on 9 AM, new year's eve. The guy sent it from Australia, already at night !

        I replied to the message, and it arrived at his BBS 6 hours later, and he was STILL awake !

        Yep, at least 2 guys hadn't had anything better to do during New Year's Day (in Australia) and New Year's Eve (in America) ! :)

        The feeling is gone now. No comeraderie anymore in the Net age.

        One time I was pushed to become the temporary moderator for the FLAME group, and oh yeah, I was flamed to crisp ! For whatever's worth, it was fun, Fun, FUN !!
    • ex.html now gives people the following:

      This Account Has Been Suspended
      Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.

      Fun, huh ?!
  • The BBS (Score:5, Funny)

    by doodlelogic ( 773522 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:18AM (#10556372)
    Am I the only one who thought that with 3 DVDs you could store most of the BBS systems and let readers find out what it all was for themselves?
    • Re:The BBS (Score:3, Funny)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      Yes, and they will take forever to download at 14k!
      • by name_already_taken ( 540581 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:47AM (#10556622)
        Yes, and they will take forever to download at 14k!

        What's this '14k' you speak of? In my day, we had 300bps, and we liked it! Sometimes I even used 110bps for that extra-old-timey feel!

        Hell, we even called bps 'Baud', and we liked it, because we didn't know any better!

        And that's the way we liked it!

        • I thought that in the 110 and 300 bps days, bps was the same as baud.

          But I could be wrong.
          • by bsd4me ( 759597 )

            Bit rate is the number of bits transmitted per second (duh). Baud rate is the number of symbols transmitted per second (also called the symbol rate).

            When one bit is transmitted per symbol (ie, BPSK), then the bitrate is the same as the baudrate. When two or more bits are transmitted per symbol (ie, QPSK, QAM, etc), then the baudrate is slower than the bitrate.

            All of the digicomm engineers I have worked with avoid the term baudrate, and use symbol rate instead, to avoice confusion.

            The Bell 103 modems

        • Maybe "Fun" and "FAST" in that time really mean FUN and FAST !

          Connecting to 110 BAUD modem, seeing that one character at a time appears, was so... so... JUICY !

          Now with 20 Mbit/s connection, yes, it's faster, but something is missing.

          When 300 BAUD comes up, I salivated for it. Saved enough money for the modem, and still remember how my ear got pulled 2 inches longer because of that.

          When 1500 BAUD arrived, my ear grew 2 more inches. When 2400 BAUD arrived, my ear lobe almost touched the floor.

          Going from
    • Am I the only one who thought that with 3 DVDs you could store most of the BBS systems and let readers find out what it all was for themselves?

      And, of course, with 3 DVDs you could store well over 10 hours of video at a quality level that matches that used by most commercial DVD producers... so why not put this documentary on 2 discs?
  • Mooo! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:18AM (#10556373) Homepage
    Moooo! Great to see Sketchcow doing this before all of us old farts who cut our teeth on 300bps BBSes die off.
    • Re:Mooo! (Score:3, Funny)

      by nick_danger ( 150058 )
      300bps? That would have been luxury! Why back in my day, we used a 110baud Teletype ASR-33, uphill, in the snow, both ways, And We Liked It!
    • ... because after we start dying out, nobody will be interested in my stories of saving up ($115) for my Hayes MicroModem ][ with direct plug into the phone line! (No acoustic couplers for me, nosiree!)
      Of course, I couldn't afford the fancy-schmancy touch-tone dialing, so I got to hear the relay clicking out the pulse for each number.

      Good times, good times.

      Free Gmail invite [] -- last one's up for grabs.
    • Re:Mooo! (Score:3, Informative)

      before all of us old farts who cut our teeth on 300bps BBSes die off.

      Well, BBSs aren't dead yet []...even if you aren't running at 300bps! :)

      -- Pete.

  • Being a filmgeek (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:19AM (#10556385)
    I'm definitely a filmgeek.

    Less is more.

    70 minutes is always better than 7 hours
    • Erm... don't forget that the audio SUCKS. It sounds like they were using the cam's built in mic.
    • I just watched Ken Burns' "The Civil War" with a total runtime of over 10 hours. If you think that could've been compressed to less than two hours without losing, well, everything, then I'd say you're more of a filmskr1ptk1dd1e than a filmgeek.

      Sometimes it's best to get to the point. Other times it's clearly not. Do you also find Cliff's Notes superior to the original texts?

  • What the!? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Who the heck wants to watch a film about cork boards full of ads? What a bunch of weirdos.
    • Who the heck wants to watch a film about cork boards full of ads? What a bunch of weirdos.

      A BBS was a computer bulletin board system that someone would run with one or more dialup modem lines answering the calls and serving up a terminal session. This was before the invention of the PPP protocol and the widespread adoption of the internets.

  • Editing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by njfuzzy ( 734116 ) <.moc.x-nai. .ta. .nai.> on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:26AM (#10556442) Homepage
    It sounds like someone needs to learn a thing or two about editing.

    Many subjects have been distilled into 2 hour documentaries. Sure, two hours of film won't make you an expert, or communicate the full depth of knowledge, but it can show a great deal. I am sure that the history of the BBS is a rich and potentially interesting subject. However, I am sure it isn't so complex and full of details that it could not survive a 2-hour treatment.

    A seven hour documentary will be watched by 7 people, and interest none. The subject would be far better served by something edited to a size mere mortals could digest.

    • Re:Editing (Score:3, Interesting)

      There are actually some people out there who like to get the whole story. While I won't be rushing out to buy this set on release day, I am sure my boss will snap it up. Then I'll borrow it from him and watch it. I am fairly young as far as computing goes, but I did start out with a couple of BBS' else was a 10 or 12 year old boy to download all the girlie pics he wanted to look at with good old Lview... Anyway, I think it'd be kinda neat to see all the stuff I missed by my parents not getting p
    • Re:Editing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Scott ( 18815 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @05:57PM (#10559763) Homepage
      I chose Njfuzzy's response because it seemed to catch the most-posted concern about the BBS Documentary. However, for anyone not cruising this article at a "show me all comments from -1 upward", let me mention that an awful lot of people are posting concerns about the "7 hour documentary".

      And, like a lot of people, njfuzzy took the time to post his concern without actually looking at the site in any depth.

      The story and experience of the BBS stretches 25 years (if you don't count proto-BBSes like PLATO/Community Memory/etc., and I do). It involves literately millions of people, and thousands of folks who were pretty hard-core into it and what it represented. And among them, were many hundreds of people who affected a lot of lives and brought life online, and spent a lot of energy doing it.

      Therefore, the problem I faced at the beginning of the production was similar to that of doing "Car: The Documentary". How would you fit in Henry Ford next to a description of kids who take rental cars and juice them up with nitrous kits to race? Well, you can't. Or, you could and everyone gets 30 second mentions. I consider that fare that really any production company can do on spec for any cable channel out there.

      Therefore, I made a choice. Instead of constructing out of thin air a "story line" that would span this 25-year history, give very little detail, and basically just serve as a vague introduction to the story, I would instead split the story into parallel episodes, each focusing on a major aspect.

      The thing is, really, any group or production house could do a light, somewhat accurate BBS Documentary. To do one with a lot of detail and accuracy would require a lot of energy and a lot of work from a quarter that wouldn't normally work that way. I decided to bridge that gap.

      DVD, also, provides a perfect medium for this sort of work. With the ability to go to any episode, switch around to details you might have missed, and most importantly, the ability to digest everything at your own speed, the opportunity is there to take on a lot of subject that would not normally be considered "commercial".

      Think of this. I have Ward Christensen's only video interview. Some will not care, and some will care very much. I am of the folks that care. There are a lot of subjects covered in this documentary, many dozens, which were otherwise going to disappear forever. That's why I did it. That's what drove me as I travelled thousands of miles and did hundreds of interviews. That's what will hopefully persist long after the last DVD is sold and my last breath: that this was an important point in human history.

      This said, it was NOT edited as a series of interviews, one after another, on a dry subject. I don't think the subject is dry at all. On the other hand, it is not agog with jiggling breasts and explosions, and I would think that people seeking such fare will move down the aisle. I think, at the end of the day, I will br very proud of the final product, and people who know what they're getting into will find it very enjoyable.

      And in many ways, really, 7 hours barely scratches the surface.
      • I happen to be one of those folks who pre-ordered this DVD set as soon as I heard it was available.

        Sure, this could be pared down to a 2 hour documentary, but my problem with that is - there's not a single competing product on the market covering anything about the BBS community! If we were talking about yet another documentary on "The Titanic" or "Egyptian pyramids" - I wouldn't bother with anything much over even 1 hour long. (And at that, it better offer an original viewpoint on the events.)

        I investe
  • by ValuJet ( 587148 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:27AM (#10556452)
    Steven Hawkings A Brief History of time [] is 80 minutes.

    I just can't imagine there are many people who care enough about nerds dialing up bulletin boards to spend 7 hours watching them.

    • by useosx ( 693652 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:02PM (#10556751)
      Steven Hawkings A Brief History of time

      Technically it's: Errol Morris's "A Brief History of Time" which is about Stephen Hawking.

      Stephen Hawking didn't make the documentary. He wrote the book, certainly, but typically the director not the writer gets the credit.

      I highly recommend all of Errol Morris's [] documentaries. My favorites are Fog of War, Mr. Death, Brief History of Time, and Gates of Heaven. I haven't seen the others.
    • I could tell them about the chicks who dialed into my BBS who I said "Wanna fuck?" to, and actually showed up.

      Incidentally, bring a blanket to the beach, that sand gets everywhere.
    • Steven Hawking's Universe was a six-parter and I thought the material fit better.

      A BBS documentary need not be 50 minutes. Those that care enough to watch seven hours probably already know the material anyway.
  • by DeepDarkSky ( 111382 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:29AM (#10556465)
    ...but sometimes, maybe not enough people will care. I was into the BBS stuff and all for years and years. Now that we have the internet, it's wide-open to everyone and doesn't seem that special anymore. There's certainly a very rich history in BBSes - all of the things we now take for granted on the internet now were being developed in the BBS community. But now, BBSes are bygone memories as we move forward. Long gone are the days of hours of downloading, constant busy signals and expensive long-distance dialing.
    Though the BBS world was more tightly knit in some ways, it was also expensive to run and use. If there's anything I've learned, is how the BBSes make the internet look really good now.

    I think most people could care less about BBSes, but I suppose for the few tens/hundreds of thousands of us who experienced it, the nostalgia factor is enough to encourage us to watch this. We can tell the young whipper-snappers "You young 'uns have it really good. Why back in my days, we had to..."
    • Long gone are the days of hours of downloading, ...

      Now, I don't know about you, but I still seem to spend hours downloading things, except now they're in the several gigabyte range as opposed to what I would get after 3 hours on my 1200 baud modem :)

      I was just mentioning to my partner the other day how the BBS scene worked. I was a big BBSer, and was really into the whole scene. I grew up in Bakersfield, CA (anyone remember Wildcat! BBS? Yeah, it was from Bakersfield) and we had tons of BBSes. I'd
    • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:57AM (#10556702) Homepage Journal
      BBS's are not dead. Dialup is dead, but the BBS lives on. BBS's have moved to the Internet [], where they are still some of the most close-knit online communities you can find. What some people don't seem to realize about online communications is that it's the people that matter. Not files, not banner ads, not warez, not even most of what passes for "content" on most big commercial sites these days.

      No other environment is quite as "folksy" as a BBS. Why do people post in the comments section on Slashdot? Because it's people reaching out and connecting with other people. We in the BBS community have never lost sight of that basic tenet, and that's why we log on to our favorite boards, day after day, year after year, decade after decade. To talk to real people.
  • Whaa?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dogbowl ( 75870 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:29AM (#10556466) Homepage
    7 freakin hours!?!?!

    I'd have a hard time sitting through a seven hour documentary on WWII. Who in the world is nerdy enough to want to watch all of this??
  • I read the blurb as being a 7 hour documentary of the BBC. Which seemed like it might be OK (depending on how much focus was spent on Monty Python, Blackadder, Mr. Bean, and Dr. Who) but certainly nothing to fuss over. Time to fire up the ol' Mr. Coffee!
  • 300 baud (Score:2, Funny)

    by kngthdn ( 820601 )
    There actually is something worse than 300 baud:

    A 300bps winmodem.
  • He missed one. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by B5_geek ( 638928 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:32AM (#10556488)
    Does anybody remember C/Net BBS? (C=64) It was the only one that supported ASCII movies. You could create "movies" of buffered commands. Man those were the fun times....

    C64 + Digiboard + 2 phone lines + two 1581 drives.

    LORD was great, there was a bug in the casino though. One of the games offered 2:1 odds, and played at exactly that ratio. It was soo easy to get millions of "credits". We then used those credits to offset download ratios. =)
  • by blackicye ( 760472 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:32AM (#10556491)
    My best guess is 6 1/2 hours of the footage will be featuring the downloading of pr0n at 300bps.

    and the remaining 30 mins will be people sitting around waiting for the Callback verifiers to ring back so they can set up a new account :P
  • Does anyone have any suggestions for my paragraph? I was thinking of saying something about the fact that anyone can setup their own old-school BBS if they want to, possibly with reference to the fact that a modem does work, all be it slowly, on the bonus voice(/fax) line that you get with (A)DSL. But I'm up for any other suggestions.
  • 7 hours... (Score:4, Funny)

    by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:36AM (#10556519)
    It's 7 hours long for a reason -- they're simply scrolling the text of everything that's ever appeared on a BBS (think the intro to Star Wars, except with stuff from BBSland).
  • It was the 'first' one to offer Super VGA graphics. You d'loaded all the graphics to your system, and then the system then queued various icons, backgrounds, and screens so that it appeared that you were browsing a SVGA system.

    Very easily lent itself to themes. I was blown out of the water when I first saw that.
    • Excalibur? There were a few others, but this one was Windows-Centric.
    • hehe what irony,

      RIP will RIP.
      Yeah I agree that it was very bloated, but that fact that it worked was awesome. The first time I heard about I was sure my buddy was lying to me.

      One of my best friends today, was a fellow SYSOP, that I met all those years ago.

      Anybody from Southern Ontario, remember Ground Zero?
      Fast Doors

      Ahh the nicks we used to have;

      The Byte Bandit,
      Mr. Toby

      Only part of the movie Hackers that I enjoyed; where the kid is telling his friend: "I gotta have a cool nick, without a nic
      • Well RIP just came to late in the BBS days. The Web was starting to take hold as a graphical means of computer comunication. And the BBSs never fully integrated RIP. It was a graphical menu and then the text commands for most software. By the time that RIP2 came out The Web was getting far more attention. Then RIP's popularity died with the BBS's Although I would like RIP or RIP like ability such as lines and other vector graphics with HTML (As well as color ANSI support). A lot of time when techonolg
      • Rings a bell!

        I ran a BBS called 'Cannibal Bar & Grill' in Mississauga, for 7 years!

        I miss those days, although the internet has higher transfer speeds, etc... the comeraderie and tight-knit community was what kept me so deeply involved.
    • by Jonah Hex ( 651948 ) <> on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:27PM (#10556935) Homepage Journal
      Well you had NAPLPS [] (more info & pics []) which practically no one used (at least in the US) but did get some support from a few BBS packages and terminal programs.

      Then there was RIP [] (aka RIPscript, pics []) which got the most implementation, although the tools and actual BBS support were far behind what ANSI was capable of.

      Then towards the end of the BBS era, you had Syncronet [] appear on the scene, which IIRC had ANSI and RIPScript support first, then added a custom terminal program with SVGA graphics. (not sure based on what presentation protocol, but I'm pretty sure it was proprietary) What's really interesting is it's been open sourced and is still in active development.

      As a long time BBS operator (Xenogenesis BBS, Sysop HEX, 313 area, first running TAG [] software then Oblivion/2 [] which I'm listed as an author for although I never put out an "official release") I'd definately say ANSI was the standard. I still miss my Obv/2 setup and it's tight ANSI menu sets (all produced personally, I'd check out the scenes packs but made my own in TheDraw of course) and I'm hoping to put it up on the Internet someday from my backups.

      Jonah Hex
      • Opps, I just remembered that I mixed up Syncronet and RoboBoard [] a little bit, it was RB that had a custom graphics client. My apologies to Seth Hamilton.

        Robobard was important as it was the first BBS software on the DOS
        > platform to implement Windows style graphics into its design. In an
        > age where its competitors were operating in ANSI, Robo was designed to
        > be displayed in SVGA, with all the graphics, buttons, sliders and
        > other GUI features users were beginning to expect from Windows 3.xx.

        • Yea Roboboard was a good design for a graphical BBS it was lacking in some areas and as a SysOp it was near impossible to get people to download the graphical client. I needed to run duel BBS Software to get the users who didn't like the graphics, couldn't setup the software, or Modem was on the same com port as the mouse. Roboboard FX came out shorly with better graphics and ANSI Support as well. To bad Seth Decided to keep the format rather pripority and not let other software venders use it like RIP.
  • by da_Den_man ( 466270 ) <dcruise @ h o t> on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:38AM (#10556532) Homepage
    I will say that I was one of the hundreds of people Jason interviewed for this documentary. I look forward to seeing what he has compiled and released, even though I am "on the cutting room floor". Apparently my view was a bit to political and he could not get enough corroburating testimony to include it. My understanding of his process was to get all he could and then whittle it down to a decent amount of information. I am getting a copy because it reflects the History of where we were and what we have come from. Without the BBS systems, do you really think the technology we have today would be in place? Heck, I spent more for the parts and pieces to have a multi-line BBS than most people earn in a year. R&D of USR, Maxtor, and SONY should have a plaque with mine and few others names on it. In these days of the Internet and Instant information....grabbing a local connection to a local board was the only real way to get solid tech information...or to chat with friends.....or just hang out and download some really bad EGA pr0n.
    • Without the BBS systems, do you really think the technology we have today would be in place?

      I guess it depends on what mean when you say technology. I can honestly say that I have only connected to a BBS maybe once or twice, and I have been working with computers (both at home and at work/school) since I started engineering college in the late 1970's. It seems to me that the three biggest factors that have influenced today's technology are 1) the Arpanet, 2) Unix, and 3) the Xerox Alto computer.


  • Ancient History (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 ( 718736 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:39AM (#10556544)
    for you 300 BAUDers out there

    I remember when I was working for an Engineering firm, one of the largest in the world at the time (late 90's). They needed to get some drawings out ASAP and the T1 was down, they didn't have an on site admin.

    I saw an old Hayes modem sonnected to a computer that nobody used. Everybody was shocked and amazed when I fired up a terminal and typed in ATDT + the phone number (the guy needing the files had a modem as well - he knew how to use it). LOL. Everybody was trying to figure out out to send the files by courrier, or even pay for a plane ticket for hardcopies.

  • ATH (Score:4, Funny)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:40AM (#10556554) Homepage Journal
    3 years in the making, and (at 300baud) 11.4 years in the downloading!
  • Who else preordered a copy?
  • by Mean_Nishka ( 543399 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:43AM (#10556585) Homepage Journal
    Although some are complaining over the seven hour length, I for one think it's great to have as much recorded as possible. Sysops around the world did some amazing things in their spare time (often with most of their spare money) decades before the Internet was available to mortal humans.

    Recording the pioneers of global electronic communication is important as we'll never see a 'Google News-esque' archive of BBS systems and networks like FidoNet.

  • Wow. (Score:4, Funny)

    by macthulhu ( 603399 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:44AM (#10556591)
    In the early 80's, I was as big a fan of BBSs as anyone else, but 7 hours? Is there an interview with every single person who ever dialed into one? Yikes.
  • by Nept ( 21497 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:45AM (#10556596) Journal
    until I know when the extended edition will be coming out.

  • by MixmastaKooz ( 621146 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:45AM (#10556602)
    Looking at the website, the DVD's content seems to be episodic with some decent interviews (like Dr. Cerf). I think it's amazing that he got 7 hours of tape just on BBS's. But for narrative's sake, I hope he grouped the interviews/footage into episodes that are either topical or chronological.

    What type of treatment would you prefer on this subject?

    I would prefer a topical divison of episodes because BBS gaming would be fascinating as I spent a bit of time playing them (my favorite was Trade Wars or was it called Space Wars? It feels like it was eons ago). I wonder if he addresses how they led into the multi-player games we currently have today. A discussion on modem development would also be interesting as would a discussion on the culture of BBS users. A topical division would also allow me to skip parts that might not interest me like BBS programs available on OS/2 (A topic which I could care less about). However, a chronological treatment would be fine, but I think it would get either tedious and/or obtuse by the end having weaved so many themes/points throughout it.
    Lastly, since I work at a Science Center, I hope the episodes/chapters aren't too long because it would be great to show them in my gallery! Overall, I look forward to getting my hands on this!
  • BBS Days... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Osrin ( 599427 ) * on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:47AM (#10556618) Homepage
    The BBS world seems like a lifetime ago. For over two years I ran the european regional mail and echomail hub for the GT Power network from a 286 that buzzed away at the end of my bed. I dreamed of a day when everybody could use email to talk to not only geeks, but also friends and relatives. Now we have the day. The PC doesn't buzz at the end of my bed anymore, but instead I'm plagued by spam and spy-ware. My illusions are shattered. On the plus side, I was still developing utilities back then, primarily for the network. Probably some of the most fun I've ever had. TO my surprise much of the code that I wrote can still be found in old archives, although most of it just seems to bomb out with a Runtime error 002 nowadays.
    • If you have a spyware problem fix it, no self respecting old school bbs user would use windows.
    • if you mean runtime error 200, this can be fixed. your computer is just too fast for some borland pascal crt unit's delay calibration routine. inofficial patches are available at err200/download.html#TpPatch,
  • wildcat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by comet69 ( 198367 )
    bbs's brought many good things to my recreational time.. hell, i used em up until about '97 or so.. still use some of the Telnet boards so I can do my occasional whoop ass in L.O.R.D.

    i remember deleting my 3 megabyte games time and time again because I didn't have more than a 40mb hard drive.. needed to conserve as much space as possible.. but i'd always re-download those shareware games on my 2400 baud.. i was stoked to be one of the only people in my city to have faxing capabilites with my modem..

  • I'm disappointed, I was expecting something more like this []
  • Ok, it'll be beaten to death here, but here's the numbers:

    The shortest video they have, at 2 MB and just about a minute, would take 19 hours to download at 300 baud. More time if there were any errors (the 300 baud modems didn't error-correct; that was done in software).

    The same video at highest quality (22.9 MB) would take 9.25 days to download... for a minute of video.

    Never mind that this would take 15 and 168 Apple ][ disks (respectively), and that the high quality version would require almost 3 disk
    • My first computer was a CPC6128, that had 160kbyte 3" discs...
      A normal divx video (or a audio cd) would use almost exactly 1 disc per second...
      (and to store the content of my current raid5 array, you would need a pile higher than mount everest...)
  • The sequel (Score:2, Funny)

    by mollymoo ( 202721 )
    This documentary is actually the sequel to Jason Scott's previous 16 hour epic "The history of drying paint", a compilation of 724 of the most historically important paints, uh, drying.
  • I'm not sure if I could sit through 7 hours of coverage, but I fondly recall plopping the phone receiver down on a 300 baud modem connected to a Tandy pocket computer. Then moving up to a 2400 baud modem a few years later connecting to Wildcat and Renegade boards and then moving up to the GUI environment of the Excalibur boards. Those were the days.

    Eventually the BBS'es became just springboards to logging onto the Internet through shell accounts. Before that turning point it was neat to think of the local

  • Hello,

    I am a bit surprised to see all of the comments treating Bulletin Board Systems as if they no longer existed or were a thing of the past.

    While they heyday of the BBS is over, they definitely do still exist. The USBBS [] list documents hundreds (thousands?) of BBS systems, most of which are available by telnet access these days.


    Aryeh Goretsky

  • Geez, that's a bit overkill for a time period that is totally beyond the comprehension of most people that went there..

    Nice idea though, but its bound to bore and confuse most of the target audience.

    ( and yes, im sure ill have a copy.. having been part of that crowd.. )
  • Ahh memories (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skraut ( 545247 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:40PM (#10557036) Journal
    I remember writing my first shareware game in (don't laugh) gbasic. I spent 3 months reducing the file size from 80k to 31k so that people could download it from BBS' faster. 2 weeks later Doom was released and suddenly people equated file size with quality.

    I ended up making a 1 meg .tiff and sticking it in the zip file, and my downloads increased significantly.

    BTW the game made me a whopping $25 which as I promised in the shareware nag screen, went towards my college education... Ahh to be 15 again.

    • errrr. Back when doom1 was released, everyone and their dog had 14.4 or at least 9.6k modems. Which means that you spend 3 months to reduce the downloadtime about half a minute. WHOA.
      And nobody gave shit about some basic game at that time. That was years after shareware games like duke nukem 1&2, biohazard, commander keen 1-6 (all before doom),ect,ect.
      Are you sure you got the date right? (doom was 1993...)
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <.teamhasnoi. .at.> on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:42PM (#10557048) Journal
    In the mid-80s I was 15. My pal with the rich dad and the hot new XT told me about BBSs; "Your computer connects to someone else's and you can get games and chat and do stuff!"

    I proceeded to beg two Multitech acoustic coupler modems off my high school computer lab teacher, and lost a weekend to splicing a cable out of old solid phone wires and masking tape to hold the beast together. Strangely, Multitech was very patient with my youthful exuberance, and slowly read off the pins and where to connect them on my Apple IIgs.

    The next few weeks were amazing. Proterm, a pal and I made our first call with a number gleaned from a cracked version of Hard Hat Mack. We logged in as 'new', frantically wrote down our name and password in a notebook that soon would be filled, and sat in wonder as words and animated \|/-\ cursors flew across our screen as fast as we could read.

    Page after page of the notebook was filled with phone numbers, names and passwords, floppy after floppy were filled with blue box plans, docs for cracked games, directions on how to get revenge on geek-hating bullies and ASCII pinups.

    Of course, whenever we saw a 'Contact Sysop' menu item, we frantically entered the '*', and was brought to the 'Enter your reason for chatting with the Sysop' page.

    The chat textbox invariably looked like this:


    The carefree BBS days came to an abrupt halt when the monthly phone bill arrived, and totaled over five hundred dollars. I was brought up on charges in front of Mom and Dad, and spent two weeks in a Juvenile Correctional Facility otherwise known as my room. My calls were thereafter contained to the Twin Cities, and there were far fewer in number as I was busy with chores designed to build character and break my spirit.

    After this, my travels on the high seas and the vast treasures I accumulated! AYE! ARR!

    • I spent over $300/mo between the ages of 12 and 15 connecting to BBSs worldwide and hosting a northern-Ontario FidoNET (and BoM and ACiD) node. It was a great experience and I enjoyed it tremendously. Its helped me become the network designer I am today.

      As an aside, I use Multitech modems to this day for my clients for three reasons: they're technologically superior* to any other product I've found so far, they're rugged and have lots of hardware options (for rack-mounting, etc.) and most importantly, th
  • This from the website when you click "what will it sound like":

    This Account Has Been Suspended
    Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.

    So I'm guessing it's a whooshing noise, with the crinkle of paper bills clearly audible.

  • for you 300 BAUDers out there

    Baud is not an acronym. iirc, It was the name of someone who did some early telecommunications work and he was honored by naming this unit after him. Kind of like Kelvin or Fahrenheit.

  • Are they real DVD-videos, or are they CSS encrypted? (Seriously, I want to know; because I can't be bothered buying from peeps who can't be bothered making proper DVD videos, or want to try and stop me using their products after I've bought them, and I can't be bothered installing DeCSS.)
  • When I was 10 years, old back in 1984, my dad had an 8088 XT and a 300 baud modem. I had an older friend who showed me how to connect to BBS' and find BBS' in my area. By the time I was around 12 years old I was Sysop of my own WWIV BBS. I paid the $25 to Wayne Bell to become a registered WWIV Sysop and legal owner of the WWIV C Source Code. I hacked that BBS up till no tomorrow. I made a ton of my own mods and learned tons of skills to make me be where I am today.

    I think it's too bad what has become
  • That'll make downloading the torrent of the movie feel like I'm getting it via 2400 baud modem!!!

    1 gif = 5 minutes.

    Sometimes it doesn't seem real that I was so impressed by diffused dithered greyscale images of "real pictures" on my PC.
  • by telemonster ( 605238 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:29PM (#10557501) Homepage
    Jason Scott appears to have done a very good job with this documentary. Don't let the 7 hour number scare you, it is broken into 7 different parts that cover different things... For instance, there is 1 hour devoted to the underground scene and ansi art scene..

    Once I saw the preview it did dawn on me how much there really was to cover. It seemed well presented, and probably STILL not complete!

    From those that were around in the BBS days... Do you remember the Dual Standard HST craze? Telegard 2.5 and 2.7, FidoNet and crashmail... OOFNet and THG, ACiD and iCE, that horrible RIP graphics garbage... and of course the true community the local BBSes provided that is generally lacking with the global internet?

    I saw the preview of the film @ Defcon, and also saw Jason speak @ 5th Hope about preserving media. It is interesting, as the project I tried to deliver to 5th hope was a video archive system --- collecting as much video content related to the underground computer world as possible, and delivering it on demand. Good news is the archive is growing -- bad news is there is still millions of news casts and other "reports" that I don't have... if anyone has old VHS/Beta tapes related to anything involving computers or telecom, please let me know. My last big milestone was the Whiz Kids tv series from 84! Also found Hack Attack, aired on Disc in 94... Very interesting stuff. Whiz Kids floored me, as the technologies exploited in this 1984 tv series were so ahead of their time, including Motorola MDT and DOT signs!! Crazy stuff.

    Where was I, oh yes-- 7 x 1 hour documentaries , each covering a different aspect/portion of the BBS scene! Watching the preview, I wanted to immediately see the whole thing. I can't speak for everyone, but I personally have been eager for the release of his work. He also stated that in a year or two the cuts that hit the floor during editing will be given to the folks. Very very cool!

  •'s a free half hour TV show [] about BBSs, made all the way back when they were popular, which features CompuServe, Byte BBS and The Well.

  • by NerveGas ( 168686 ) on Monday October 18, 2004 @03:01PM (#10558265)

    You could take all of the useful information that has ever been posted to a BBS, and make the film out of it.


A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.