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Just out of curiosity - Were you a BBSer? Did you run a BBS?
March 29, 2006 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Just out of curiosity - Were you a BBSer? Did you run a BBS?

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posted by Afroblanco to MetaFilter-Related at 6:36 PM (163 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I've recently become interested in the parallels between the BBS scene of the early 1990s and the blog scene of today. I used to run a BBS in the 314 AC, and was involved in the scene for a number of years. In particular, I spent a lot of time on BBSes that had a regular user base and a focus on message boards. These BBSes make me think of blogs, most notably for the types of relationships that they foster.

Oh yes, and, obligatory link to BBSmates.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:37 PM on March 29, 2006


As a kid, yes and yes, though this was at the tail end of the BBS era in the mid-nineties.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:42 PM on March 29, 2006


I ran a BBS called Cyberia in NYC from 1989-1990.
posted by ltracey at 6:43 PM on March 29, 2006


As a kid, I played around with the idea of running a Hermes BBS (Mac software) around 1990-1991. Since I had only one phone line running into my house, the idea was pretty much a non-starter.

For those couple of years, I called around to all the Mac warez BBSes in 703, 202 and 301 area codes, and hung out in phreaking IRC channels to get codes to dial the (better) California ones.

For me, it was mostly about software access... I didn't get into the community aspects of the BBS scene.
posted by killdevil at 6:45 PM on March 29, 2006


I had co-sysop access on a couple of boards in the Northern Virginia area, actually, now that I think about it.
posted by killdevil at 6:48 PM on March 29, 2006


i bought my first pc in 1986. it was a leading edge brand computer with an 8088 chip and a 30 megabyte drive (gasp!). we all marvelled at the 30 megs - "that's definitely a bbs machine" said my friend. and thus was born the edge bbs. later on i organized a bunch of boards into fidonet 228 and edge was assigned node number 228:4. but you've heard all this before.
posted by quonsar at 6:48 PM on March 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yep. Co'd a coupla BBSs in the Windsor area. Did ANSI art. The usual.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:52 PM on March 29, 2006


8-bit VGA porn. Woo.
posted by smackfu at 6:52 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes to both. Ran a two-line Wildcat board out of my house, spent a lot of time here.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:53 PM on March 29, 2006


I'm *still* a BBSer.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 6:54 PM on March 29, 2006


I co-sysoped a board that my buddy put up for a while. And I adapted a text-based Dr. Mario clone I wrote in Turbo Pascal to run as a door game, which I had by far the highest score on by dialing into it and playing for hours with a 2400 baud connection, with the pieces never falling very fast.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:00 PM on March 29, 2006


yep, ran a fidonet node for a while in the early 80's
posted by pjern at 7:02 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes, and yes, on a Commodore and later a PC. Doors, ANSIAnimator, dot matrix printouts of the TradeWars galaxy... *sniff*
posted by Wolfdog at 7:05 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes. And sorta. 714 area code. MMBS, WWIV, Wildcat, Renegade. My first modem was 75 baud. Second was 300.

Third one was a 19,200 baud Racal-Vadic external network-grade modem I was gifted, probably from spurious sources, that did did odd things to plain-jane AT&T/Hayes chipset modems, like make 'em handshake at much higher speeds then they were advertised to run at and maintain the higher throughputs.

The sad thing - well, besides being a big huge nerd - was that I had the thing connected to my 32k RAM CP/M based NEC "laptop" and used it's built in terminal program. Yay, 40 columns by 24 lines of hugenormous non-lit LCD ANSI text. I didn't even get my own real computer until years later. That little C-battery powered laptop was entirely useless without a modem, landline and a number to dial. It didn't even have a tape drive, much less any sort of newfangled disk thingys.
posted by loquacious at 7:07 PM on March 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


"BBS scene of the early 1990s"

You meant "the mid 1980s".

I had one of my own for a little while in 1989.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:17 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes. No.
posted by mischief at 7:20 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes to both. I ran a BBS on an XT Bridgeboard inside a Commodore Amiga. This let me run a BBS, on a separate hard drive attached through a separate XT controller in the case. (The A2000 had PC slots too.)

I had two phone lines, one incoming and one outgoing, and the coolest demo I had was opening up both an Amiga terminal program and the PC display program, and calling myself. The Amiga ran a program to display the PC screen in a normal Amiga window. Typing in one window and seeing the characters coming in on the other was a bit surreal. It was much stranger in the era of single-tasking computers.... realizing that you weren't just multitasking, but running two distinct machines on one screen at the same time.

Big hit at parties, doncha know. :)

Biggest bummer to that setup was that I couldn't afford an AT Bridgeboard, which did 'autoboot'... it would start automatically when you powered on the computer. The XT flavor required an Amiga program to start it, so I could only run Workbench-friendly games... there weren't many. So I did a great deal of BBSing.

In a very real way, I suppose I never stopped.
posted by Malor at 7:21 PM on March 29, 2006


I never ran one, but I used them to download StarConII (OMG SO AWESOME) and pr0n back in the day before it was called pr0n.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:23 PM on March 29, 2006


Started with a 300 bad modem on a C64 sometime around '88 ... I was eleven. I went to a meetup at a local tavern and was sorely dissapointed when I ordered a orange crush they gave men an orange juice. I was the youngest guy there by a long shot. Two of the guys showed up on a bicycle with a side car attached to it. It was awesome. I was one of those kids who would run a BBS from 8pm until 6am, until the parents got fed up with me sometimes forgetting to turn off the ringers in the house. I finally got my own phone line at the same time as I got a 14.4 modem. IRC was the natural evolution from there.
posted by furtive at 7:25 PM on March 29, 2006


I was on a few Windsor ON area BBSes, I traded lessons on cracking C64 video games for sysop access on one very short lived board. I think I was given sysop access on a few others too. I think I spent a lot of time on Windsor Footnote and another who's name escapes me. It might have been EX10 or something. The owner had a standing contest to break some Vigenère ciphers and promptly moved right after I decided I'd like to try.

When I first started on BBSs it was all about the games but then I got into message boards.
posted by substrate at 7:27 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes and yes. I dialed around the 203 CT and 212/718/617 NYC areas. I also ran a wildcat-based one off my 386 rig for about two years on the dedicated line into my attic that focused on the ska/punk scene in NYC and New Haven. Both were pretty hot spots of ska, hardcore, and punk in those days, and I lived roughly half-way between them. Hosted scans of 'zines (blogging!), announced upcomings shows, etc. Eventually I got tired of it, and the scene kinda died out (only to coming roaring-ass back in recent years, BTW, as these things tend to do).

Punk rock, 2400 baud, was I ever that young?
posted by ChasFile at 7:35 PM on March 29, 2006


I went on them in the early '90's to get software. I wish I was old/geeky enough to have really gotten into them, but by the time I really really cared, we had the fabulous interweb as we know it (well, free text-only dial-up access isn't exactly the same thing, but... whatever).
posted by ruby.aftermath at 7:35 PM on March 29, 2006


I was a BBSer in 314 area also, AB. Same time period. Mostly WWIV.

Funny how crazy active 314 was for BBSes in the late 80s and 90s. Huge amount of early BBS and hacker lore involving St. Louis BBSs.
posted by Mid at 7:38 PM on March 29, 2006


I grew up on mostly WWIV boards @ 2400 in the early 90's (and later upgraded to cutting-edge 14400). My username here (and elsewhere on the Internets) is an adapted form of my original BBS handle from back then. Can't remember though whether my part of California was 909 or 714 at the time. (On preview: holy shit loq, which boards were you on?)

Given the geographical proximity of BBS users, meetups were a natural occurance and led to many lasting bonds. I even wound up adopting a sister. When you see the two of us together now, the family resemblance is uncanny.

Oh, and the best door game evar is PIMPWAR!
posted by DaShiv at 7:41 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes, and yes.
posted by crunchland at 7:46 PM on March 29, 2006


I ran a BBS in Atlanta on my TRS-80 Model I from 1984-1987. It was "Milliways - The BBS At The End Of The Universe".
posted by daveleck at 7:53 PM on March 29, 2006


The BBS scene in St. Louis was insane. At its peak in '94, there were nearly 500 BBSes on Fire Escape's weekly BBS list.

For its first year, my board was a fairly typical setup. However, during its second year, I said "fuck it" and gave everybody 255 SL, which was Sysop-level access. This meant that everyone, even the newbies, got to be Sysops. Although anyone could have trashed my machine at any moment, nobody did, and things actually worked out pretty well. Unfortunately, every few days or so, some n00b would "shell to DOS" and try to run some executable code, like, I dunno, WIN.COM or LEMMINGS.EXE or something.

Also, I should mention that my first real programming adventure was modding my WWIV board. And today, I make a living writing web applications, and, yes, blog software. The more things change...
posted by Afroblanco at 8:00 PM on March 29, 2006


Hells yeah!

The Firehouse. In Canton, CT. At 2400 baud, when there was an open line to connect to.
posted by rollbiz at 8:00 PM on March 29, 2006


I hung out on Blue Confabulation in Portland during the later part of its existence. 2400 gay-friendly high school flamewar goodness.
posted by cortex at 8:01 PM on March 29, 2006


I'll elaborate. I used to dial into bbs's in the early 80's. I even ran a C64 bbs in the early to mid 80's in Connecticut called Bohemia BBS. In 1995, I inherited a 5 node bbs called Crunchland, and I moved it onto the internet in 1997. Crunchland just celebrated its 15th year online.
posted by crunchland at 8:01 PM on March 29, 2006


used to be. yes I did ANSI art as well. yes, I've tried to forget those days, and yes sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat with the sound of a modem connecting echoing in my head.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:02 PM on March 29, 2006


I learned UNIX in 1990 so I could use e-mail. Somehow I discovered there was all this cool stuff on our server, and other servers, and learned about FTP, and found I could print out song lyrics. Cool! As a side effect of all this poking around, I found ISCABBS.

The rest, I'm afraid, is history. You see how the story ends.
posted by Miko at 8:04 PM on March 29, 2006


DaShiv: Network23, CMS, Arena (guh, ick), EDI, 4next (Guh, ick again), Morrison Hotel, Digital Decay, DnA, and a bunch of others I either can't remember or probably shouldn't talk about even though I was a totally innocent little wet nosed boyscout.

I'm totally forgetting some of the larger ones. I used to go by the handle "slide". I was mostly into chat, telearena LoRD and some Major Mud.

My first post parental unit house was in a condo with a bunch of guys that ran a BBS, which I named above and wont elaborate on further. We had a 486 with a 64 port serial DigiBoard running about 24 modems and lines. Some of the other ports were connected to a number of cheap used dumb terminals all over the house. We had 'em in the bathroom and kitchen, even, and a handful of 'em in each of the other rooms. It was pretty sweet. But holy shit long runs of RS-232 serial cable sure were expensive and a pain in the ass. People think making cat-5 sucks. Try using full size serial cable as a network medium. We spent more on cable then we did on the used terminals.


Daceleck: Man. That BBS sounds awfully familiar. I think I might have actually dialed it at some point, or saw ads for it in the back of the old PC mags or something. Awfully familiar.
posted by loquacious at 8:06 PM on March 29, 2006


on my TRS-80 Model I

You got my Model III (1979, I think it was) beat. But there was no call for a BBS in a town of 2000 people, with the next town down the road about the same size and 50kms away.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:08 PM on March 29, 2006


AB, I totally dialed into your board. I remember it vaguely. And d/led every new Fire Escape list. I was a jr. level op (100 points or whatver) on Land of Oz, which was WWIV and one of the first big WWIVNET boards that sent e-mail out to other boards.
posted by Mid at 8:10 PM on March 29, 2006


Oh my. Yes. What do I remember? Pirates Hollow, TOTSE , Skeleton Crue (my friend ran SC)...I have fond memories of the SF 2600 meetups down in the Embarcadero.
posted by Loser at 8:23 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes and no. Ahhh, the good old days. A 386 with a 2400 baud, 4 megs of RAM and 130 meg HD. I never did fill that drive up.
posted by c13 at 8:25 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes in High School. Area code 218. The Wormhole. PegaSys software (based on WWIV, similar to RENEGADE). 1995-1996ish.

It was 14.4 but I BBSed for a couple years at 2400 on a Mac.

Even though it was on the tail end of the years of BBSing's popularity, it was still tons of fun.
posted by starman at 8:30 PM on March 29, 2006


We got our first computer when I was in seventh grade, in 1989. I spent an unbelievable amount of time online -- maybe almost as much as I spend on the internet now. I was an aide on The Penthouse Suite (Sacramento), although the users on that particular board were a relatively tight-knit group, so there really wasn't any need for aides. Used a bunch of other boards in the area, too, including Channel D, where I met my first long-term girlfriend. Another one I used a lot back then was Cold Winter Knights, which is still accessible.

In case any other Sacramentans are reading this, I usually went by Nomad back then, though I was Nosmo King on a couple of boards.
posted by Acetylene at 8:31 PM on March 29, 2006


314 represent!!! I remember you, Afroblanco. I think it was only really from seeing your name in the BBS list or random messages on the WWIV boards in town. My stupid BBS handle was Bag of Flour. This was my crappy BBS, which I ran on a computer that somehow had a modem and phone line at my school. It didn't last very long and didn't get many callers. It was fun getting to run my own game of TW2002, though.

By the way, I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the BBS Documentary yet. I still haven't bought mine yet; I hope I get around to ordering it before he runs out!
posted by zsazsa at 8:36 PM on March 29, 2006


I'm still doing it in a way. ?! was my second bbs nick. Somewhere in a box I still have the list of every Louisville bbs -- mostly ones that died after a few months.

In the 80s I ran various boards in the 502 and 812 area codes. I remember moving from 300 baud to 1200 to 2400. In the mid-80s I worked for a newspaper and helped get them to put up a bbs for news. I remember arguing that bbs users were on the forefront of information delivery. (Yes, I am embaressed about that.)

I co-started a group of bbs users who got together to chat face-to-face. We had users argue and whine about topics and other users. Which was better Atari or Commodore? Then was it Amiga or Mac? People were banned. Others just decided the hell with it and stopped logging in.

By '89 I moved far out into the country. Got divorced and just decided I was sick of dealing with people through posts. I gave all the equipment away.

It's 17 years later and the only real difference for me now is someone else has to deal with the server going down. American lives may not have second acts, but they sure have sequels.
posted by ?! at 8:39 PM on March 29, 2006


Mid - That's awesome! I definitely had an account on Land Of Oz. You guys and The M&M Factory were two of the biggest WWIV sites in the area!

How I remember those days. Looking forward to Sunday when the new Fire Escape list would come out. I would spend an hour every Sunday morning looking through that list for new boards that would pop up, and to see if any of my familiar favorites dropped off.

Most striking to me is how, over a decade later, I am still close friends with some of the people who I met on BBSes.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:40 PM on March 29, 2006


i dialed in to a few local ones around '94 or '95, but by that time, the scene was pretty dead and i didn't stick around much
posted by pyramid termite at 8:45 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes, in the 509 area code, from mid ’88 when I started high school till ’94 when I learned how to build web pages and discovered I could finally make money with computers.
posted by Tenuki at 8:59 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes, and MeFi reminds me of a good BBS and seems to be formatted in a similar manner... low on badwidth [sic] consuming junk. No, never ran one.
2400 baud. Ran fine with text oriented material. Ah, the joys of modern bloat, pop-ups, gifs, and junk junk junk. So much of the internet now is like some sick sad bastardization of an internet meets the phone book incestuous relationship. Ewww....yuk.
posted by buzzman at 9:08 PM on March 29, 2006


Was anyone else on BARK?
posted by the jam at 9:40 PM on March 29, 2006


Yes. And not only have I run any of a great number of BBSes over the years, starting in the C64 era up until, oh, 1995 or so, I used to work for the first outfit to run MajorBBS in 415 and one of the first Galacticomm source licensees: TicTacToe. Hell, I've been on conference calls with Tim Stryker.

I have a great many good stories about the BBS days, none of which anyone ever wants to hear.
posted by majick at 9:52 PM on March 29, 2006


Those were the days, playing LoRD, Usurper, Trade Wars, and a few other gems whose names I forget. There was also the downloading of random games (and introduction into warez. Those were the days). I was all about using Terminate, though I dunno if it still exists.
Like others here, I was a youngin' and my parents had a hard time understanding not to pick up when the phone rang because I needed the modem to respond for identification purposes.
posted by jmd82 at 9:54 PM on March 29, 2006


I dialed into a shell account at the university of chicago in the early '90s. i'm a bit of a young 'un, though.

I made fun of my friends who were on BBS's. Only two people on at a time? No multiprocessor systems? Can't telnet into other servers?

Though, in retrospect, BBS were probably much more fun...
posted by Freen at 9:54 PM on March 29, 2006


and also, the bbs' my friends used were run by 12 year olds in their parents basements, and were continually getting yelled at for telephone bills, which might explain why my experience at UofC was a bit better...
posted by Freen at 10:01 PM on March 29, 2006


Briefly in the early 90's. Would dial into a a bunch of random ones in SE CT and RI from a list my friend got somehow, until my mom saw the phone bill and forbade me. Spent most of my time at Vatican II, when I then discoverd totally by accident, that an Italian kid at my middle school ran it. At my friends house, we'd download what we hoped were porn .gifs (by guessing at the filename,) and while waiting the hour+ to download it, we'd go downstairs to either watch cable or play Scorched Earth. Good times.
posted by Snyder at 10:10 PM on March 29, 2006


Oh yeah. 203! And like so many others in this thread, we had meetups, drama, and hours and hours of great conversation. One of the happiest days of my life was when I was granted co-sysop status at the Castle Anthrax BBS in Branford, CT. For a while I had um... access to a calling card, and would call BBSs all around the country. I remember discovering FidoNet and pretty much having my mind blown that this stuff was everywhere.
posted by jtron at 10:16 PM on March 29, 2006


Shit, I'd forgotten Scorched Earth.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:19 PM on March 29, 2006


And I had no idea 203 was such a hotbed of BBS activity. I remember Garvey's, Chaos Factor, some guy with a Wildcat board the name of which escapes me but whose C homework I did one time....
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:30 PM on March 29, 2006


I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it may tend to incriminate me.
posted by caddis at 10:34 PM on March 29, 2006


Bag of Flour, I remember you! At one point, didn't you have some sort of big, unwieldy macro that you would sign your posts with? I seem to remember seeing you at The Last Homely House / The Secret Society, but I could be mistaken.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:36 PM on March 29, 2006


Edmonton Citadel-86 scene, networked across the country. Also subsequently ran a C86 in the Okanagan. I was a part of that community from about 1986-1995ish. The advent of public internet really knocked the wind out of the BBS scene.

Citadel-86 was very much like MeFi is now: you could start up a new conversation thread at the drop of a hat. Its UI was far superior. Quality of conversation was about the same as at MeFi. Perhaps a little less contentious, given that we had regular face-to-face user meets of dozens of users/friends at a time. Had us a nice little Very Amateur baseball jag, super-informal. Great fun.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 PM on March 29, 2006


DaShiv: I even wound up adopting a sister. When you see the two of us together now, the family resemblance is uncanny.

I think he insists on taking my picture when I'm not smiling just to spite me. Just like a brother.

So, yeah, BBSes. I was active on several back in the mid-90s, mostly WWIV but a few Wildcat boards as well. I had co-sysop access on a couple of them, which proved to be very useful during the Handle Wars of '95. (Hey DaShiv, remember your user number?) Now that you mention it, Afroblanco, I do see some parallels between BBSing and blogging. There were similar ranges of topics, A-listers and B-listers, even self-linkers. Each board had its own milieu, and the sense of community was quite strong.

It's funny - I used to be far more active on message boards back in those days. I made some very good friends that way, and there were a lot of great conversations going on. I really don't post much at all now.
posted by Aster at 11:07 PM on March 29, 2006


That is where I first encountered Mr. F. F. Fish.
posted by Sallyfur at 11:39 PM on March 29, 2006


I used to BBS in the Toronto area, and had my own set up as well. Ahhh, how I miss those heady days of Telix. I even went to a few BBS meets in the Toronto area, way back in the early 90's. Man, now I totally have to go and look up some of my old friends and see if they're on BBSMates. :)
posted by antifuse at 3:38 AM on March 30, 2006


My ISP used to be a BBS in Seattle but had made the transition to SLIP/PPP by the time I really started using it. It still has some of the BBS spaces accessible in the shell. I spent some time dialling in to some of the Seattle BBSes, but the University of Washington had dial-in shell accounts in the early 90s and we had had a VAX (VAXen?) in high school and college [84-90-ish] so by the time I was using a phone line I was looking for shell.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:40 AM on March 30, 2006


I ran a board (WWIV, Vnet, and FidoNet) from around 91 to 95. Good times. It really was a way of life back then.

I thought for sure this was prompted by someone watching that BBS Documentary, as I am in the middle of doing just that right now... good timing.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:46 AM on March 30, 2006


Yes, and no. Also, I was really young at the time and probably was never a very good member of any communities.
posted by rxrfrx at 3:59 AM on March 30, 2006


yes, on a trs-80 CoCo and a 300 baud modem. Never ran one.
posted by exlotuseater at 4:07 AM on March 30, 2006


Yes, No. I came late to the scene but I still got a lot of LORD play time in the 613 (Canada) on the parents 386 in the early 1990s. I was spoilt, I think our first modem was a 14.4.
posted by tiamat at 4:27 AM on March 30, 2006


I've recently become interested in the parallels between the BBS scene of the early 1990s and the blog scene of today.

No shit, Sherlock. Where the hell have you been? ; )

[I would've posted the above message to this thread as an ANSI tapestry, but by the time I'd finish, the thread would've been closed to additional comments.]
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:41 AM on March 30, 2006


I was also in the 203 scene. Sysop of a gamez/fidonet board back in high school (1993-95).
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:44 AM on March 30, 2006


Yep. There were two rival public-access UNIX systems in my area code (734) and a few smaller BBSes. I spent far too much time there as a wee lad in the mid-90s.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:06 AM on March 30, 2006


I used to run a BBS (land of the wicker people) here in Toronto. I can smoke all your asses at BRE.
posted by chunking express at 5:47 AM on March 30, 2006


I used to be a regular on a BBS in the thriving Cville, VA scene back in the day. Years later I discovered that one of my best friends, who I'd met upon transferring schools, was actually the runner of this BBS in the old days. It was weird and cool, uniting two people I liked in my mind.
posted by selfnoise at 6:13 AM on March 30, 2006


Yep, nope.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:27 AM on March 30, 2006


From my TRS-80 CoCo I dialed into The Gatorbowl, in Framingham, MA. It was run on a CoCo (32 columns of text! Woohoo!) and I was even a remote Sysop for a time while the Sysop went off to college.

300 Baud. Wow. Last night I was pissed because my torrent was only downloading at 30kps.

Man... I'll never forget the thrill of connecting to another computer for the first time. It was like magic.
posted by bondcliff at 6:28 AM on March 30, 2006


WWIV, 410 area code, fido, sysop Loki from The Adjective Noun.

It was mainly an exercise in Trade Wars and bickering with some dude who ran a ST:NG play-by-post game as to why I should be able to play a Betazoid with a mechanical hand who could talk to computers via telepathy. Good times, good times.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:30 AM on March 30, 2006


I ran a BBS called "RAMpage" on Maximus, then "Necropolis" on RemoteAccess, and finally "We Spell Vacuum With One U" on Renegade that I hex-edited the hell out of. 203 foreva. Good times.

300-baud pre-dated me, but my veins ran with 2400 for years. The day I was finally able to upgrade from my (MCA) IBM PS/2 and buy an internal modem, I cried.
posted by Plutor at 6:33 AM on March 30, 2006


I used to BBS, but more important I had a friend with... TELIDON. That was awesome.
posted by GuyZero at 7:00 AM on March 30, 2006


I used to dial into boards in my local area: 914 (Most notably, Alex's Place BBS - Hi Alex!) and 212 (including, I think, Cyberia, mentioned above).

A bit later on ended up calling into some in the midwest (Games Plus, Global Gallery) and Ohio (Chatnet).

Oddly enough I ended up meeting more people in real life from far away boards compared to local ones.
posted by mikepop at 7:04 AM on March 30, 2006


Like many people who lived on the local boards, I did set up a BBS briefly. But, I was having too much fun helping my sysop friends and learning how to build computers, wire networks, write batch files and hack (in the good sense) to pay attention to developing content.

Because I was a BBSer, I got tapped to become the techie at the library where I worked. That led to getting a CNE and becoming a computer pro.

Blogs? I haven't met many people IRL that I met on a blog, unlike BBSes (or even MUDs). I haven't learned a whole lot. Not even sure if blogs have been as entertaining as Trade Wars.

I don't see the similarity.
posted by QIbHom at 7:23 AM on March 30, 2006


Good times, good times. I had a BBS open from 10pm until 8am for a while but with only one phone line it got a bit tricky turning off the ringers and then turning them back on. I was 11. I was a regular on a few local ones but had to lie about my age. Hah!
posted by keijo at 7:26 AM on March 30, 2006


I would like to take this opportunity to point out that Remote Access owns WWIV. That is all.
posted by Galvatron at 7:34 AM on March 30, 2006


Sooo... I know Trade Wars can be set up on a server for over-the-web play... Can we get a Meta Trade Wars?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:53 AM on March 30, 2006


Yawn. Trade Wars has nostalgic value, but that's all. I loved it back in the day, like anyone else, but I played it about a year ago, and it's a pointless, boring, repetitive, idiotic game. LORD isn't a lot better, but LotGD has done a good enough job expanding and improving on it.
posted by Plutor at 7:56 AM on March 30, 2006


Yes. Heck, I even worked at a bbs company and was on the cover of Boardwatch.
posted by boo_radley at 8:13 AM on March 30, 2006


I BBS'd around the Columbus, Ohio area (614) as "Pink Freud" while in college, mostly Apple II GBBS boards. My first modem was a screamin'-fast SupraModem 2400 I bought for the low, low price of $150. I got PC Pursuit at some point and started calling around the country. I remember spending a good amount of time on a couple BBSs in Philadelphia. At my first job I ended up setting up a ProLine BBS for my employer and later helped set up a network of NovaServer BBSs (dubbed theLINQ) for schools. Somewhere in there I also became a forum assistant on GEnie, mostly so I could enjoy free access to the service, which cost $6 an hour for 1200 bps access.
posted by kindall at 8:42 AM on March 30, 2006


Yes, from about age 9. I got my own account on a local BBS for a 12th birthday present.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:43 AM on March 30, 2006


I got into the BBS scene late, in about 1992 (I was 13), in the 612 area. I was "The Necromancer" ("necKro" is a derivative of that; it's a long story). I mainly hung out on Citadel-86 boards (as five fresh fish mentioned, Citadel was great for conversation). 612 was ground zero for Citadel-86 boards at the time, since Hue Jr., C-86's programmer, was in the area. Often new boards would pop up on a whim, for just a few months, and then disappear into the ether again.

(I've brought it up before, but when I first started reading Mefi, I instantly recognized FFF's name from the Citadel networks...)

Oh yeah, and I always pwned at Pimp Wars. I played as "Lonny Zone", the pimp from Neuromancer.
posted by neckro23 at 9:50 AM on March 30, 2006


Afroblanco, yep, that was probably me. I loved to draw signature macros in ANSI. I remember making the 'f' out of the two ASCII integral symbols and the line draw crossbar. I thought I was so clever. And yeah, I think I was on Secret Society!
posted by zsazsa at 10:27 AM on March 30, 2006


Yep. I also ran my College's BBS. That list on BBSMates is a combination of 3 different sites I ran from 88 - 91.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:58 AM on March 30, 2006


Yes, and Yes. I ran a BBS in Atlanta (404) from about 1987 to 1989 - bbs was called 'The Wall' under the handle 'pinkfloyd' - (I know, I know, but when I was 14-15 it seemed cool at the time) and it ran on an AT&T PC6300 - monochrome 286 machine. Files, messaging, chat. Spent a lot of time on other local BBSs, too.

Damn near lost my virginity to one of my users (she was nice) at a going away party they threw when I pulled the board down.

And yeah, I got nostalgic for TradeWars reading this thread. Awesome. Thanks for the memories.
posted by TeamBilly at 11:07 AM on March 30, 2006


I ran two BBSes in Victoria, BC, for a couple years between 1990 and 1992, until I discovered the Intarnets and realized what a dead medium the BBS would inevitably become. One was called "Fear the Sky". I ran them on Remote Access, with dual USR Courier 14.4 Dual Standard HSTs.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:20 AM on March 30, 2006


Many moons ago. Tried to present state-agency information and regulations via a BBS. Discovered that even in the early 90's, said state agency did not have digital copies of any of its regs. Once printed, the WordStar files (!) were deleted. Yay.
posted by mmahaffie at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2006


No, but I had a Citizen's Band radio.
posted by fixedgear at 12:27 PM on March 30, 2006


I hung out in the early to mid 1990s in a small group of Seattle boards running JetBBS, an obscure program written by a couple of local programmers.

The most active board was run by one of my teenage friends out of his basement; at its peak it had two or three dedicated phone lines. Around 1996 I joined a web development company started by several people who met on the BBS. I worked there only briefly, but the company is still doing business today (ten years later). Two of the founders met via the BBS, were dating at the time, and are now married.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:37 PM on March 30, 2006


Yeah, I was on BBSs, mainly INGA and Gateway / Webzone in Adelaide, South Australia, in the mid to late 90s. Even got a job there when the BBS turned into an ISP. Good times.
posted by Jimbob at 1:48 PM on March 30, 2006


Hey, jtron, I forgot all about Castle Anthrax! That was a good one too.
posted by Snyder at 2:53 PM on March 30, 2006


Yes and sort-of. Mr. R had a couple of different BBSs in Houghton (906) in the 10 years we lived there (a couple from his from his dorm room, one from the attic of our house). I was on a couple of them, and had basic sysop privileges (which is to say that I had the passwords so I could reboot the system when he was at work) on Unsafe at Any Baud. We closed down Unsafe in 1993 when we moved south.
posted by jlkr at 3:47 PM on March 30, 2006


I was in the 203 area (especially Fairfield County) in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Mostly haunted Lakeside Park as acxxi. Ah, those were the days.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:02 PM on March 30, 2006


Yes. I was in Israel, which had a huge BBS scene. Violet the barmaid and I got along famously. I used Telix to dial-in, then eventually Procomm. I had a 14.4 modem from "Zoltrix", reknowned for having an init string as long as a book that would work only about half the time. Me and my friends discovered Merlin (a very primitive BBS software); eventually we discovered Remote Access, and finally PC Board. One friend was pretty good at drawing ANSIs (we would download artpacks from ACiD and gawk) and another wrote a popular "Chat with the Sysop" PPE for PC Board that had a backdoor that could drop you into a DOS shell. We had a lot of fun with that. I was never l33t enough to have logins to any of the 0-day, 6+ nodes distros, but I got around just fine.
posted by ori at 4:13 PM on March 30, 2006


This is in the early 1990s, btw.
posted by ori at 4:14 PM on March 30, 2006


This reminds me of the demo scene. Remember Second Reality?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:33 PM on March 30, 2006


I used to be a regular on a BBS in the thriving Cville, VA scene back in the day.

Wow, that's crazy -- I ran a BBS here in C'ville. I never expected to find somebody else on MeFi who was a C'ville BBSer.

I'd been a user of Freeware Hall of Fame and A Nickel's Worth. When The Midnight Foundation started up I was planning to start a BBS of my own. Wanting to mock the pomposity of names like "The Midnight Foundation," mine was "Waffles at Midnight." It was WWIV-based, a single line, and ran on my 8086. When the 20MB of storage ran short, I pulled out my trump card -- I stuck a 1.44MB floppy in the disk drive, thus increasing my storage space by 8%. W00t! I also published "804 News," an electronic zine of happenings in the Central Virginia BBS scene.

I've only recently discovered that two of my favorite BBSs, Amiga Bandwidth and...uh...I forget the other one -- were run by guys who are now friends of mine.
posted by waldo at 5:52 PM on March 30, 2006


I am always very surprised at how few people in these threads were Citadel folk, given how MetaFilter is basically the same thing write multi-user. I figured we'd be choc-a-bloc full of ex Cit users.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:21 PM on March 30, 2006


Yes, Yes. Renegade system, 803 AC. I too miss TradeWars and Usurper. God, those were the days.

Also, StarCon II is the greatest videogame ever. Check out the UrQuan masters port. I still play the game to completion about twice per year.
posted by Tullius at 8:09 PM on March 30, 2006


yes and no. but not to any large extent, I was way more into muds.
posted by juv3nal at 9:41 PM on March 30, 2006


Ethereal Bligh, do I ever! I have a some demo music (from future crew and other scene releases) transcoded into MP3, if you're interested.
posted by ori at 10:20 PM on March 30, 2006


When I was ~14 and waaay into BBSes, I installed and configured some BBS software on the family computer. I set up nice looking ANSI graphics for the login page. I made myself sysop.

Then I made a mistake.

This was my mistake: I logged into all the local (area code 405) BBSes and posted messages that I had set up a new BBS.

Why was this a mistake? I was 14 years old. I lived at home with my family. We had one phone line. We used this phone line mainly to talk to family and friends. I had just posted the number for this phone line as a "Hot New BBS" on all the local BBSes. Like many 14-year-olds, I didn't think through the consequences of my actions. I guess I just thought that the computer would answer the phone when another computer dialed it. It was an experiment I hadn't done. And, y'know, it was ok for the first few hours, while my folks were out of the house. The phone rang, the computer answered, the local BBSers got to see my BBS. But then my parents came home.

...And the household phone was ringing non stop. All day long, and all. night. long. And it was then that I realized I'd made a mistake. And I was scared to admit this mistake. And nobody else in the house understood what was happening. The phone would ring, and my mom or dad would answer it, and there would be either silence, or a strange, high pitched beep. And they didn't understand why.

And I never explained, either.

After a few days, of the phone ringing all the time, as the local BBSers basically figured out, after hearing my pissed off mom yelling confusedly at them through their modem speakers, that there wasn't often a live BBS on that phone line. The mistake sorta resolved itself.

I'm 31 years old now, and I still haven't told my folks about that 'mistake,' although they'd surely find it funny now.

I did later think about posting the home phone number of a high-school bully to the local BBSes as a new BBS, but, I was too timid...
posted by u2604ab at 11:32 PM on March 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


u2604ab, that's a really hilarious and very touching story.
posted by ori at 1:07 AM on March 31, 2006


I ran a small BBS and was an avid BBSer in the 1990s.

517 in the house! :)
posted by k8t at 3:16 AM on March 31, 2006


I used loads of Internet BBSes. Started out on the old QuartzBBS out of Rutgers. I found it via the old user menus on the IU VAX system in 1992. From there I went to ISCABBS, and then to Prism, Ragged Edge, Sunset, Splash, Refractions, etc. I'm still somewhat active on the new Quartz and ISCABBS, though not nearly as much as I used to be! (My handle was Roses on original Quartz and still is on Isca. Other handles I've used are Estragon, Witch Baby, Anna Karenina, and this one.)
Miko: what was/is your handle on Isca?
posted by SisterHavana at 6:51 AM on March 31, 2006


Yeah, the Rave! BBS in the UK. I wrote a simple guide to sending email between Fido and the proper internet using the UUCP gateways, which turned out to be quite popular and spread widely. It still turns up under Google searches for my real name...
posted by blag at 7:24 AM on March 31, 2006


I am always very surprised at how few people in these threads were Citadel folk, given how MetaFilter is basically the same thing write multi-user. I figured we'd be choc-a-bloc full of ex Cit users.

Wow, FFF, I had completely forgotten about Citadel. I used to occasionally read that one, too, but was much more active on ISCA.
posted by Miko at 8:46 AM on March 31, 2006


I used ISCABBS too, via gopher I think? Beena long time but I still remember "Dr. Dave."

(Also picked up on MUDding and how it wonderfully distracted me from my earthly needs like sleep and sustenance.)
posted by hyperlith at 10:32 AM on March 31, 2006


ChatChatChat! in Seattle was where I started my online life. I still have friends from there...those were the days. Also hung out on 28 Barbary Lane a lot.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 1:12 PM on March 31, 2006


Yes. 1982/83. Apple II+, Hayes Micromodem. 213 AC. It was called Dragon's Lair--one of several Dragon's Lairs, turns out. A useless but fun BBS. Useless for everyone else, fun for this 11 yo SYSOP, until we moved to Saudi Arabia & it died.
posted by dontoine at 2:39 PM on March 31, 2006


Oblivion/2 anyone?
posted by IronLizard at 9:01 PM on March 31, 2006


I think I still have a copy of that lying around....
posted by IronLizard at 9:02 PM on March 31, 2006


i belonged to a small BBS called Phantasy, then i started working for ExecPC which held the honor of being the largest BBS in the country (or was it world, i really don't remember)

It was popular.

And a cool place to work.
posted by quin at 1:20 PM on April 1, 2006


Yes, in Auckland, New Zealand.

BBSmates doesn't do us justice (area code 09, but there's at least one Finnish BBS with the same number), we had a pretty busy scene. I remember my BBS list being about 300 (local) numbers long, but of course I settled on just 3 or 4.

Good times, bad for my schooling though. And as soon as I got an internet connection I completely lost interest.
posted by The Monkey at 2:34 AM on April 3, 2006


Shouting out Proton out of Los Cerros Jr. High in Danville, CA ('86), The Transfer Station out of Walnut Creek and The Compass Rose BBS out of Davis, CA. Also, while not an active member, big ups to 24th Street Exchange in Sacramento, CA and POPNET in the East Bay. PCBOARD and WWIV forever!
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:04 AM on April 4, 2006


Was very active on the BBS scene in southern NJ in the late 80s. I remember the Jersey Devil (home of the Citadel BBS system -- remember how Citadel was the most command-line of them all and had all those clones... hm... Citadel of the 80s = wiki of the 2ks?), BB's BBS, etc.

Wrote a few of my own BBSes in middle school (colossal nerd) and even ran one on the Apple IIGS in the school's computer lab. I still remember the phone number (953-9663).

Also remembering calling into sites as "John Weston" with a friend as we browsed for content our young eyes shouldn't have been seeing.
posted by laze at 1:48 PM on April 4, 2006


Yeah, I did the BBS thing, but only as a member at first. There were a couple of local (Miami area) BBSes that were prety popular, but due to their *ahem* nature, I won't name them. The primary board was run by a retired pilot, and it grew so quickly he eventually ended up renting space in a strip mall for an office. At one time he was up to 16 lines, which is when he brought in some of the more level-headed members as a "board of directors" to help him keep things going.

Within a year of that move, though, he got sick of it and closed up shop. Pretty good timing, too, since the Internet started its move into the mainstream around the same time, and what had been unique to the board became commonplace.

I still miss some of the people, though. It's true that there seemed to be more camaraderie among BBSers than bloggers. I guess it's the downside of the web's inherent decentralization. MeFi doesn't have an area code.
posted by mkhall at 2:03 PM on April 4, 2006


u2604ab: That is almost exactly what happened to my friends who tried to startup their own BBS... Great story!
posted by Freen at 2:28 PM on April 4, 2006


I did Usenet in the 80s. I think I was spoiled.
posted by meehawl at 4:39 PM on April 4, 2006


Oh boy, did I do BBSes, mostly in the 212 and 718 area codes. I was a regular on the Running Board (PCBoard), which was a hub for the RIME network. I still get nostalgic for the days of Robocomm and .qwk packets.

Also, I was co-sysop of the Bayline, which was a 16-line MajorBBS system, back in the day when that was impressive as hell.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:31 PM on April 4, 2006


I stared logging on to BBSes in 1982, and ran my own for a few years starting in 1987 in northern Delaware (302 area code). Good times!

The best part? I met one of my life-long friends on one of those BBSes. A friend of a friend at the time, but a woman I ended up finding to be someone I can't imagine not being in my life, nearly 18 years after meeting her.

For anyone who says you don't make "real" friends online, I only have to look back 18 years ago and say, "Yes, you do, and long before the Web was around." Technology brings people together and has been doing so for many, many decades.
posted by docjohn at 7:43 PM on April 4, 2006


I spent much of my teen years on Baltimore-area board, made some good friends from that time.

For a time, I ran a BBS (Gridpoint, 410, running C*Base 128) for a while, from a Commodore 128 my dad bought at a pawn shop. There was a strange diversity of folks on the C64 boards back then, lots of people that you wouldn't have expected to be online back then. It was a cool time, sometimes I think despite the cable modems and multi-GHz processors that there was something special about those days I wish I had back.
posted by Charlie Bucket at 11:33 PM on April 4, 2006


Once upon a time I lived in Hong Kong, where local phone calls (that is - phone calls within the british colony of Hong Kong, population approx 5 million) were not charged calls. I would start dialing around 3pm when I got home from school, and fight for slots on one of the hundreds of BBSs that were around at the time.

Our school ran a BBS that you could log into over the schools network. That was incredible. We would play 'board games like Risk, Usurper and Legend of the Red Dragon all lunchtime. Then when you got home from school you could dial in and catch up on your turns, if you didn't get a PC at lunch.

I first dialed up when I was in primary school, when I was 10 years old. We were using a 1200 baud modem.
posted by Jerub at 12:02 AM on April 5, 2006


Yes. You name it, I probably used it. WWIV, fidonet, proto-MUDS, d-dials, whatever the commodore version of d-dials were called. I had one running for a while but it never took off and frankly wanted that juicy phone line for myself.

Meeting fellow BBS people at around age 13 or 14 or so was an amazing experience. I wasnt just another stupid kid from the suburbs those nights, but part of a group of some really interesting people, adults, who treated me like a peer. It was almost bewildering. In retrospect, it took me out of the world of suburbia and showed me something bigger.

Meeting up to play Photon was good geeky fun so was learning the basics of phreaking and hacking. Anything seemed possible with computers. Today, a computer is this tame little machine in your home. Its so refined and mainstream its almost the opposite of the liberating technology it used to be.

The shift from 300 baud to 1200 was mindblowing. 9600 was just unnatural; only the rich kids had those USR modems. 2400 to 14.4 in college was just insane.

Today, everyone is a BBS'er whether they know it or not. I also still miss tradewars and the wild west frontier feeling of it all. Mostly tradewars. Maybe I'll install it at work tomorrow.
posted by skallas at 2:56 AM on April 5, 2006


I don't consider BLOGs to be anything like the BBS scene. Not even close. The closest thing I can think of, are websites with large messageboards. I'm not going to pimp one of my sites, but the messageboard site I run has most of the stuff my BBS did, a games section, messageboard, no download section though. It's more interactive than a blog. a blog has one voice that screams about something, and then all the messages respond to that first post.

There was a certain technical knowledge needed to even get started, finding stuff was near impossible (start with a handful of numbers, try to find more numbers at other sites, search each site for what you were looking for, etc.)

I dialed in for a year or two around 1988-89, and then ran one from 90 until 95, WWIV, 508 AC. It was sad to turn off the machine at the end, but by the end no one was dialing in anymore. The Internet was all anyone wanted, and I had to agree with them. I had Internet access from college during the last few years, and knew that was going to blow away the BBS scene.
posted by inthe80s at 6:33 AM on April 5, 2006


Back when Doom 2 was the cutting edge FPS, I was part of a BBS (I don't recall the name.. Black Cat maybe?) out of Oklahoma City. It allowed users to play four player Doom 2 with whatever doom wad you wanted. You could also play all the standard text based games and download various files, Doom related and otherwise. I didn't get out of the house enough for a child of my age.
posted by howa2396 at 7:28 AM on April 5, 2006


Sorta. I ran a few of the largest areas on the old Prodigy service in the early to mid 90s... I suppose that's technically a no, but up until stuff like live chat and such broke out, it was really more like an upsized BBS than anything else. And yes, most of the "core" members did move on to trying blogging and/or running boards themselves eventually.

On the other hand, I got that job specifically because I was already running a frequently updated personal website, so you could argue I was led the opposite direction...
posted by Pufferish at 9:56 AM on April 5, 2006


AQ@!DEAAAAAAAAAAWE

NO CARRIER
posted by iamck at 11:42 AM on April 5, 2006


I had a pcboard in 416 and then 905. Desqview & QEMM. Zmodem gif dowload stripteases. 2400 to 14.4. To put the second phone line in they had to dig up 3 of my neighbours yards - crew of 4 and a digger. Best $50 installation fee ever. Good times.
posted by srboisvert at 1:26 PM on April 5, 2006


I ran a CNET bbs on a A500 and then on a A2000 which I got from another sysop, might of been the guy that ran The Doghouse. I ran Inferno in the 630 area and even joined some demo group called the Black Monks.

I managed to get a 16.8K USR Dual standard when they first came out via the sysop deal, which reminds of of the Hayes vs. HST wars.

I sold all my Amiga stuff years ago. I emulate it sometimes...
posted by john at 4:15 PM on April 5, 2006


I started BBSing in 1985 when I got a 300 baud modem for my 3-year-old Commodore 64, having arrived in the dorms and my own phone line. In 1987 I moved up to a $2000 12 MHz 286 (zero wait states suckaz!) and a 1200 baud external modem, which was a dream because it went faster than you could read and drew all the ASCII stuff superfast. I strictly surfed for downloads and the occasional door, no chat or FidoNet. In 1993 I got a 66 MHz 486 and ran OS/2 and ZOC (Zap-O-Comm) on it which was/is a fantastic terminal communications client. Alas it cost $70 to register and I was on a student budget so I never paid for it, and lived with the countdown timer nagware. This was all in 404 and occasionally in 201.

In 1994 I figured out how to get the arcane PPP connection to the university to work and OH MY GOD ITS FULL OF STARS
posted by intermod at 7:13 PM on April 5, 2006


Everything I do and know today, internet-wise, is because of my friends and I playing LORD on dial-up BBSes in New Jersey when we were in 8th grade. It was actually my favorite year of school, 8th grade, because that was when I made all these friends after getting them to play LORD on this one dial-up board, and then we'd talk about it in math class the next day. Friends became enemies, real-life dates came about, classic shit life that. And then, of course, summer came, and we all started high school, and it all just went to crap. I don't reminisce about my first date, or my first vacation, or my first pet. But I reminisce about the first time my friends and I formed a guild and took over the town in Usurper back in '94.

posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:20 AM on April 6, 2006


Ah ... the good old days at my ][+. I was the sysop of a hokey BBS called The Lion's Lair (don't ask). It was 1984-1985. I remember that I blew a ton of money for a 10MB hard drive so that I could serve up text files on red and blue boxes, phone phreaking, etc. I can't believe it's been over 20 years. Remember SoftTalk? Beagle Bros. Software? Ascii Express?

Sniff. I'm getting all misty here.
posted by scblackman at 7:05 PM on April 6, 2006


713 is in the house. I'm going to keep my handle a secret to avoid incriminating myself.
posted by Nelson at 8:04 PM on April 6, 2006


I used to call the Chatterbox BBS in San Diego, California. This was in 1994-1995.
posted by interiority at 1:53 AM on April 7, 2006


I used a BBS called Zoist around 1990, which like me, was in Melbourne, Australia. It was mainly a hangout for conspiracy buffs and it resulted in a friend and I attending a meetup in Coburg with some very bizarre people.

I had a 300 baud modem, which was fine until my friend lent me his 1200 baud modem, and I sampled real speed for the first time - the text actually appeared on the screen faster than I could read it ... wow!
posted by davem at 2:58 AM on April 7, 2006


919 in the house. Ran a Wildcat BBS ("Homestead") out of my apartment in Chapel Hill, NC for a couple of years in the late 1980s, followed by a Waffle BBS ("Chatham Host") once I sweet-talked my way into getting a Usenet feed from a friend at Duke University.

For the Waffle board, I ponied up for a spiffy USR9600 for both the board *and* my feed-host. Whew.

I also have fond memories of PC Pursuit.
posted by enrevanche at 5:53 AM on April 7, 2006


I spent 1984-1990 wandering BBSs in Michigan (w00t, 313). I had the same handle then. Was a SubOp on Stardock (out of Wyandotte) for a while. The guy who ran Stardock BBS is now CEO of Stardock Games. In 1991 I moved to Virginia, and discovered WWIV boards. My husband was Wayne Bell's first connection outside of California (The Inn of the Last Home). Posted quite a decent bit on WWIVnet and WWIVLink. A local person started up an MBBS (Fire Chat) - played LoRD and TA and TW and MM a lot.

My handle's been Hamadryad all the way through. I answer to my handle. My handle is old enough to legally drink.

AND. I don't have one single close friend right now who I did NOT meet through BBSs, including my husband.

I agree with the person who compares BBSs with message boards, rather than blogs. Blogs are a person's own threads; message boards are everyone's.
posted by Hamadryad at 5:59 AM on April 7, 2006


I ran a BBS in highschool, on our second line; Wildcat if I remember correctly... Seth Able is teh best EVAR!
posted by AllesKlar at 8:31 AM on April 7, 2006


I tried to run one in middle school, the problem was I had an extra line and a friend of mine had an extra line, but we couldnt figure out a way to run a "distributed" BBS.

So for the most part, I just used them in the 702AC. Boot Hill, Corvette, 103.5 The Edge (yea, a local radio station ran a four line BBS system). It was fun. Then the internet showed up and all hell broke loose.

I preferred Usurper and the various ___wars door games.
posted by SirOmega at 9:44 AM on April 7, 2006


I'm still wondering if that English guy killed those people.
posted by TonyRobots at 10:56 AM on April 7, 2006


Oh my god. I've just started reading through this, but ...

Another 203 here. I waas 'Cyber' after moving to CT in '91... I was in the Avon area. My sister was also active in the 203 scene and I emailed her to ask her what her nick was... she's still got some friends from there/then.

I had an account at The Firehouse, but it was long distance (outside of my local calling area) so I didn't use it much. There was one that was huge (10 lines or so) that we used up to and including when they switched to SLIP/PPP in 95 or so. I was in it mostly for LoRD and TradeWars.

The funny thing is that what I loved most about LoRD was scoring with the beer wench. Years later, I'm dating a girl who works local Renn Faires on weekends as a beer wench...

My first computer was an IBM PS/2 386 SX/16 with 2 MB of RAM that I later upgraded to 6. I still remember installing that and my 14.4 modem when 14.4 modems were $100...
posted by SpecialK at 11:53 AM on April 7, 2006


Oh, and Hamadryad, WONDERFUL name.
posted by SpecialK at 11:54 AM on April 7, 2006


i was on a few BBSs around the new orleans area in the late 80's and early 90's, starting when I was about 12, i think... the only one I really remember was The Assassin's Guild, though. Lots of good ANSI art. and I tried to start my own, once, called The Zoo - but it only lasted a month before my parents got wise to my using the phone line all night long and put an end to it. hehe.
posted by ab3 at 12:10 PM on April 7, 2006


I was heavily involved in the BBS community. So much so that I decided to make my masters thesis a community study about one localized BBS community.
posted by absalom at 1:02 PM on April 7, 2006


Ah!

We were on Super Collider and Oracle in 203, and Disk Jockey Online (DJO) in 503. I was Cyber, sis was Quasar.
posted by SpecialK at 1:13 PM on April 7, 2006


I was and still am a BBSer, on Seattle area Citadel boards (Seattle is the site of the original Citadel, ODD-DATA, though that predates my time). The Cits I called were DragCits, TwitCits, MavenCits, GremCits, Citadel+s, etc.

Citadels were primarily message-oriented though some of them had door games, etc. We basically just called and posted, called and posted. And then we had weekly and monthly get-togethers for the local Cit community. (The monthly ones were called Coffee Breaks and were usually at pizza joints. We were 86ed from a few of them...)

In March, 1991, I started my own bbs in Seattle, Slumberland, running Glen Heinz's MacCitadel software on a Mac Plus. A few months later I scored a PC from my employer and moved Slumberland to the PC, running TwitCit (unfortunately, the PC Citadel software was way more robust than the Mac one, or I would have stayed on the Mac).

Slumberland has been up and running ever since, though now we are running Citadel+, and for a few months we were up in Olympia instead of Seattle. We just celebrated the 15th birthday of the BBS! The BBS is accessible via telnet to bbs.slumberland.org, or by an annoying java applet here (use the telnet if you have any sort of decent terminal program, though).

Besides meeting a lot of great people via the BBS scene and my own BBS, in July 1991, at a Coffee Break at Gasworks Park, I met the BBSer who is now my husband and co-sysop. :) (He's here on MeFi too -- xiojason.)
posted by litlnemo at 2:47 PM on April 7, 2006


Oh, and up until a short while ago, my BBS was still accessible by dialup, too. But we realized that people were all accessing it via the Internet now, and finally let the old phone line go -- not without some sadness, though.
posted by litlnemo at 2:50 PM on April 7, 2006


201/914 here. Used this name back then, never gave it up. Most of the boards I was on used a locally-written software called 2AM-BBS. Drew Underground, Through The Looking Glass, Inner Circle... Then you had the Dragon's Weyr, with the Runequest themed stuff... Good times.

As I write this I'm on a train to see a friend of mine from those boards, in fact. I can honestly say that without her friendship so many years ago I would not be here now, alive and well. I don't know where most of them went to - most of those boards are long gone.

Still, I do recall that sometimes, in the olden days, you could knock someone offline with two words:

NO CARRIER
posted by mephron at 6:11 PM on April 7, 2006


Damn, missed this thread earlier. Oh well, no big loss as it's now so big that no one will ever read what I write.

Anyway, yes. Ran a BBS in 201 for quite a few years with my friend who is now a manager at Google. At our peak we had three nodes and a heavily modified WWiV codebase. I learned how to program hacking around with the WWiV source.

My handle is from the BBS days (almost twenty years ago... damn.) We were a dist site for a few large-ish pirating groups and a couple of phreaking groups, back before Ma Bell installed bluebox detectors on all their trunks.

I started doing my own ads to throw in with the ZIP (/ARC) files, and ended a member of iCE doing ads for groups and BBS's around the country. In fact, most of my computer design/art experience started doing ads for iCE. Some of my fondest memories at a kid were joining in on 20+ person "party lines" that had been hacked together by some of the more talented members of the groups we worked with. It was amazing to hear all these foriegn accents and thinking about how far away they were... probably was the source for most of my later wanderlust.

By the time we went off to college, everything was coming to an end, anyway. The internet was just starting out, and the sheer scale made our work paltry by comparison. Plus, we were over 18 and no longer protected from law enforcement. Some of our more reckless sysop friends ended up getting busted for carding a bunch of computer equipment. A few of our users were busted for phreaking... the writing was on the wall. It was a fun ride, a really amazing time, but it, like childhood in general, is all over now.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:40 PM on April 7, 2006


And, just to brag a little bit, some of my work was used for a Future Crew demo.

Glory days... yeah they'll pass you by...
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:42 PM on April 7, 2006


Sort of, and no. I had a shell account on the Indiana University dial-in systems that were operating circa 1980; we had a Kaypro2 and an acoustic coupler modem that must have operated at about 64 baud.

There was a non-authorized BBS called NOTE that I hung out in, as 'odie deeoway.' There are at least two other former NOTEizens on MeFi.
posted by mwhybark at 4:20 PM on April 8, 2006


I was active on the 703/202/301 boards in the DC area in the bad old days (late 80s/early 90s) before 10 digit dialing. I actually met my high school and college boyfriend through his FIDONET BBS and since he is now my evil ex, I'll decline to say what his board was. I was on a handful of other local boards as well, most of which were frequented by kids my age from the local magnet school.

Ironically, one of the guys I met back in those days is a mutual friend of mine and my now-fiance.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 7:12 PM on April 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


I spent far too much 300 baud time from about 1981 onward on one of the first bulletin boards in Australia, the MICOM CBBS. It was so much fun that when I went back to RMIT to do comp sci in 1983, I started a little bulletin board for students on the campus CDC Cyber 6600.

It started out as a plain text file in my student account, with global read and append permissions. I just stuck a poster on the wall of one of the terminal rooms with the NOS commands to read it and append stuff to it, and it took off from there.

It ended up being dressed up a bit with a menu-driven interface written in a mixture of NOS CCL and RMIT Pascal, and attracted quite a large community. Some of my closest friends are people I met on Bear's Bull.

On the other end of the scale from CDC big iron, my mate Mike ran a little dialup BBS on his Commodore VIC-20 for a while. I think he just liked having a way to talk to his VIC that didn't involve putting up with a 23-column screen :)

Did any of the rest of you suffer through the whole 1200/75 baud modem thing, or was that a purely Australian perversion? Those things were bastards to configure a serial port for.
posted by flabdablet at 3:09 AM on April 11, 2006


No, but I remember how crummy the first USR modems that I got were, and how incompatible with a 386 or 486 board's PCI bus they could be...

OTOH, it was nice to know the solution when I needed to resolve IRQ problems later in life...
posted by SpecialK at 8:59 AM on April 11, 2006


Wow - this takes me back. I ran a part time BBS (because another phone line was a gazillion dollars to a 16 year old back then) back in 86 - 88 called the Pioneer BBS.

I got my first taste of BBSs in 83 or 84 on my Commodore vic-20 (300 baud VicModem). (And reading 80 columns on a 40 col. screen was insane to read!)

After a couple of years I wanted to do that myself. My first software that I ran on my C=64 (on a 2400 bps modem)was HAL (or HAL9000 - something like that). Then I eventually traded up to Vision BBS which was more customizable and you could run games and network with other BBSs. Man, those were the days...
posted by buggie at 7:22 PM on April 11, 2006


Between 1991 and 1995, I spent way too much time on MBBS, a BBS hosted on the CIRCA VAX cluster at the University of Florida.

The cluster went off line in '95, IIRC, so MBBS did too.

The UF "Vaxer" scene flourished at the interesection of the BBS world and the early Internet. Most of our online activity took place on university systems, connected to the wider 'Net via e-mail, Usenet, FTP, and Gopher (and eventually the WWW). But it was very much a local community. Most of us went online in the school's public computer labs, and in fact there were a couple rows of terminals in the main lab that were thought of as "ours." There were also parties and other events happening all the time.

There were a couple private BBSes (RAW and ARMS) that were popular with the same crowd, tho I didn't spend much time on them.

I know there are other ex-Vaxers on MeFi. More info here.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:03 AM on April 13, 2006


I was on a lot of boards in 301/202/703 between 1984-1989 as Jody Jensen. BBSing was a fantastic experience, and nothing on the net is quite the same.
posted by swerve at 2:08 PM on April 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


I was 1/2 and Community Manager for Infinity BBS with my chum Chris Budhan back in elementary school.

Sigh, those were the days.
posted by will at 12:52 AM on April 24, 2006


Used 'em, never ran one. I'll never forget my first flaming. Totally unprepared for it, unaware of the custom, all kinds of confused and angry. When I happened to meet the flamer in person, he turned out to be a big affable easygoing teddybear of a guy, couldn't have been more friendly and pleasant and wonderful. Sorta like Ren online and Stimpy in the flesh. I learned a valuable lesson, there, which I subsequently forgot... oh well.
posted by clicktosubmit at 5:37 AM on April 27, 2006


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