• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here

Good Article on Dial-Up BBS's

mbbrutman

Associate Cat Herder
Staff member
Joined
May 3, 2003
Messages
6,269
I do ...

I had my own BBS software running on a friend's XT in 1986 or 1987. That BBS (PCCreation) was around for 2 years,

I'm working on TCP/IP for DOS so that I can redo the BBS, but this time using telnet. Modems are cute, but modems want phone lines.

The BBS community in NY in the mid to late 80s was outstanding. There was something for everyone, and probably in multiples too. I also remember 'ExecPC' in the Chicago area, which was quite famous. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExecPC_BBS)
 

bbcmicro

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2006
Messages
707
Location
Scotland
So, what kind of hardware would you use to access BBS's? PC compatibles? anything with appropriate hard/software?
What is the minumum possible sysreq?
 

Flack

Experienced Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
59
Location
OKC, OK
Well, you obviously know my answer -- I had enough fond memories of those days to write a book about them. ;)

Running a BBS was very exciting. Every single time the screen flashed and the drives began churning, I would run to the computer to see who was calling. It wasn't like getting a hit on a web page from some anonymous surfer; when your BBS answered, someone, on the other end of that phone line, had specifically dialed your house.

A lot of my book deals with the sense of community that the BBS scene had, something that's been lost with the Internet. It was much easier with bulletin boards for users to meet and hang out together, since most callers were local and usually lived fairly close to one another. I made a lot of lifelong friends during those days -- I even named my son after one of my best friends, who I met after first calling his BBS almost 20 years ago!

The BBS days were really, really fun times.
 

Flack

Experienced Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
59
Location
OKC, OK
So, what kind of hardware would you use to access BBS's? PC compatibles? anything with appropriate hard/software?
What is the minumum possible sysreq?
That's pretty much it. Hardware you needed a computer, modem and a phone line. And then of course you needed a terminal program (software).

Virtually every kind of computer I can think of had modems available. Original modems were "acoustic" -- like the one in Wargames, where David Lightman had to directly place his phone receiver on top of the modem. There was a switch that had to be flipped in order for the modem to work. In 1981, Hayes released the Smartmodem which connected directly to your computer, and then your phone line plugged directly into the modem. There were both internal modems and external modems.

The first modem speed I remember was 300 baud, although I have read about 110 baud. At 300 baud, I remember it took several hours to download an entire disk worth of C64 games (180k). There was 300, 1200, 2400, 9600, 14.4k (14,400), 19.2k, 28.8k, 33.6k, and 56k speed modems (maybe some others I'm forgetting, those seem like the main ones). Your modem could always step down -- in other words, you could call a 300 baud board with your 1200 baud modem. If I remember correctly, I remember downloading games on my PC and being able to download 8 1.44 floppies per hour at either 28.8, to give you an idea on the sense of speed.

Different computer models could connect to one another of course, but you usually had a better experience calling a BBS of the same type system. C64 boards sent colors and graphics to C64 users that might look like gibberish to Apple or PC callers. I know PC boards did the same, and I'm sure Apple boards probably did too. Another annoying feature was that the Commodore 64 was only 40 columns, so calling 80 column boards (and posting on them in 40 column mode) was often a pain for everyone involved.
 

tradde

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2003
Messages
1,262
Location
Katy, Tx
I thoroughly enjoyed my days running first a WWIV board, and then later switching to PCBoard. I used to spend lots of time adding features to keep
things interesting. It was always fun when someone called as there were
regulars after awhile. I tried to offer a good selection of topics and games.
I later added a second line that could also be used for select (read paying)
users to get an early Internet connection. I ran under DOS in the beginning
but later moved to OS/2 which has a neat virtual modem. Someone on
line 1 could dial out line 2 to get an Internet connection. But by that time
BBS's were heading down hill due to the Internet anyway. It was alot of
fun. I miss it. I did get interviewed once and a small blurb in the local
paper about BBS's. I guess that was my 15 minutes of fame?
Tim Radde
 

ribbets

Experienced Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
Messages
161
Location
Palmyra, Maine
Starship II Lyndhurst N.J. and Software Connections Clinton MA. and The Garbage Dump in New Mexico..... Always had the Boardwatch Magazine top 100 close by....Especially the one with 800's numbers
 

bbcmicro

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2006
Messages
707
Location
Scotland
So when I see all these modems for BBC Micros, Spectrums, Commodore 64's etc. etc., they would have been primarily used for BBS, and If I get ahold of one and the right software, I could access a BBS?
 

chuckcmagee

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Messages
1,992
Location
Nevada
I have not so fond memories of a $300 phone bill for one month. I went crazy calling cross country at night with my ADM 3A and my acoustic coupled modem. Mmmmm, mmmm, 300 baud. Good part of 300 baud is you can read it as it goes by. I would use "peek" and "pokes" trying to do fancy stuff on the BBS I was calling - only ever managed to crash the BBS software, which was not very exciting at 4 am.
 

ribbets

Experienced Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
Messages
161
Location
Palmyra, Maine
Are there any of the old BBS's still up and running would be my next question..

and there always was the game we called sliding !!!!
 

Flack

Experienced Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
59
Location
OKC, OK
So when I see all these modems for BBC Micros, Spectrums, Commodore 64's etc. etc., they would have been primarily used for BBS, and If I get ahold of one and the right software, I could access a BBS?
There were only two reasons for owning a modem, calling a BBS or running one. Finding the software would be the easy part -- finding BBSes that are still online (and local) would be much more difficult.
 

bbcmicro

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2006
Messages
707
Location
Scotland
There were only two reasons for owning a modem, calling a BBS or running one.
Or perhaps hacking into government mainframes to play games with a demented computer. Oh the hours of fun!

I may finally look into that BBC Micro prism modem that is relisted every few weeks on eBay...
 

nige the hippy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2006
Messages
1,282
Location
Luton UK
You just need to connect any old (external) modem to the serial port. You'll probably pick up an old 9600 one for nothing.

Then you run a teminal program.

If the terminal program is any good it will allow you to send a pre-edited text file that contains the various "AT" commands to do the dialling, and hanging up. to try it out, ring your mobile.

(If you're bored you could write a basic program to use the BBC as an autodialling phone book, and use the external phone connection on the modem.)

this URL looks good

http://www.zoltrix.com/support_html/modem/USEMODEM.HTM

I never really got much into the bulletin board stuff, but microchip's one (for the PIC processors) was quite cooky, it was piggybacked onto the AOL ISP dialup system, so if you rang the same number, but your serial protocol was slightly different (7bits & odd parity or something???? ) it connected you to the microchip BBS instead. wierd!

At school back in the 70s we used a big wooden acoustic coupler (found one of those for a quid!) to connect to the local college. We used to ring them, and ask to go on line, then we'd both put our phones in our respective boxes & close the lids. hopefully a few seconds later the teletype would chatter into life, and we'd have an hour's computing. However if it didn't work, we were bu??ered, as the only phone in the machine room at the college was off the hook, and in a sealed wooden box.:(
 

bbcmicro

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2006
Messages
707
Location
Scotland
hmm...So I need a modem, a BBS number, and Software.
Would that IBM 3270 terminal emulator ROM that you sent me be useful for this? I don't know how to use it or even if it works but it's worth a try.
 

mbbrutman

Associate Cat Herder
Staff member
Joined
May 3, 2003
Messages
6,269
There's probably a FAQ can find and read. 3270 terminal emulation is definitely not going to work.

The software is a terminal emulator which is capable of emulating a VT100 or ANSI terminal. HyperTerm (built into some versions of Windows) is passable.
 

Flack

Experienced Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
59
Location
OKC, OK
Okay okay, I should have been more specific -- the only two technical reasons for using a modem were to connect to other computers, or have other computers connect to you.

Non-technical reasons included using them as a coaster, calling people and hearing them say "hello? hello?" through the speakers, and more. :)
 

nige the hippy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2006
Messages
1,282
Location
Luton UK
hmm...So I need a modem, a BBS number, and Software.
Would that IBM 3270 terminal emulator ROM that you sent me be useful for this? I don't know how to use it or even if it works but it's worth a try.

Although the 3270 was quite an advanced beastie for the time, I've a feeling that (at least) the emulator I sent does do simple send-a-character-at-a-time terminaling, but for a softer solution look for a simple terminal program you can load up. e.g a VT100 emulator, or just a text terminal, you can always enter the dial-up string manually, and hang up by pulling the plug!

You can always connect to a pc running either hyperterminal or the older & more simple terminal.exe (using the null modem we were talking about) to try out what's happening. (or try connecting on a pc first!)

I did find a couple of uk bulletin board numbers (i think), and tried one (luton!) one but it's dead, whether the others are running or not???

> The Purple Tentacle, +44-734-590990. HST/V32bis Reading, UK. Fidonet 2:252/305
> A6 BBS, +44-582-460273. 14.4k Herts, UK. Fidonet 2:440/111 *********** phone dead
> On the Beach, +444-273-600996. 14.4k/16.8k Brighton, UK. Fidonet 2:441/122
 
Last edited:

ribbets

Experienced Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2005
Messages
161
Location
Palmyra, Maine
BBS services

BBS services

if I remember right triBBS was one of the programs we used the most and I believe it is still available
 

phe

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2006
Messages
27
Fond memories for me. I used BBS boards quite a bit in the last 80s and early 90s. I ran a Wildcat BBS for a software company I worked for in 1993. We used it to give our customers a way to upload logs or download software patches.

Thanks for opening this thread and bringing these memories back to me. I had forgotten all those times, all those people....
 
Top