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Good Article on Dial-Up BBS's

DoctorPepper

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Jun 19, 2003
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Palm Coast, FL
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?

Yes and Yes.

Perhaps the easiest way to play around with BBS's, and experience a bit of the nostalgia the rest of us are talking about, is to try a couple of BBS's via telnet. You can access them from any modern PC that has an internet connection and a telnet client. I'm currently a member of three telnet BBS's that I check in with once or twice a week (waaayyyy down from my every day check in's, back in the good old days!). It also saves your phone bill ;-)

Here's a link to a site that lists telnet BBS's:

http://www.dmine.com/telnet/

I'm sure there are others out there, but this is the one I use.
 

Terry Yager

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Saginaw, MI, USA 48601
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

My very first experience with the I-net was done in the same manner, by a friend who ran a local (pirate-oriented) Amiga-centric BBS. I could only use the modem for a couple hours a day, the rest of the time had to be reserved for paying customers.
IIRC, it was the (later ruled unconstitional) 'Communications Decency Act' of 1996 that pretty much struck the final blow for local BBs, as by that time, most were offering Internet access of some kind. I recall a whole lot of BBs as well as thousands of I-net sites disappearing virtually overnight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_Decency_Act

--T
 
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Terry Yager

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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. :)

I've heard that there were even a few people who used 'em for <gasp!> work...

--T
 

DoctorPepper

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I've heard that there were even a few people who used 'em for <gasp!> work...

--T

Hey, I actually used mine for work! One of my collateral duties at the duty station I was assigned to in the Navy (1982 - 1985) was to maintain the TEVS (Testing and EValuation System) question banks for the different ratings. I would do a lot of work on that after the normal work day, then I got the dial-up number and could dial in and use my *gasp* 300 baud modem. It was difficult, but hey, there was no such thing as in-line graphics back then. Even at a paultry 300 baud, a screen of text will eventually go by! :)

I used my Model IV and my Model 100 for this. The Model IV was better (bigger screen, faster modem, etc...) but sometimes the Model 100 was more convenient.

I'd love to start a BBS. Not a telnet BBS, a dial-up BBS. Just for old-time sake.
 

Flack

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OKC, OK
We used ours at work for replicating data daily to and from a mainframe. Back when I worked at Long John Silver's, I remember they had a computer with a modem that would upload the nightly sales to a centralized location (I had a terminal program also loaded on the computer, so I could modem during off hours, haha).

My favorite use of modems is for ATM machines. The one in our building still uses one. After you request money you can hear the machine dialing and connecting via modem to the bank. I love walking down the hallway and still hearing that noise.
 

MrCoffee

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Sep 19, 2006
Messages
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I loved both using and running BBS'. When I worked for SoftLogic Solutions I setup and run a PCBoard based support BBS, and also for Leading Edge. I run a dual PCBoard then triBBS setup in the late 80's called ParaNodes BBS, when I lived in NJ, and I worked for a bakery with 4 stores. I ended up using a program called eXchange, written by the author of triBBS (Mark Goodwin) so we could upload the POS reports each night. It actually worked very well.

And for a while I ran a small BBS for a local company for a support system. We didnt want to put any real money into the BBS, so I ran it on a Compaq Lunchbox system that I had pulled out of a dumpster.......fun stuff. Actually now that I think about it... I may still HAVE that compaq someplace.

Even well into the 90's BBS were used by a lot of people. I havent used one in years, but I still have a trust pair of USR V everything modems, and since i am running dialup at home at the moment, they are handy. :)

Honestly thou, most BBS package didnt have a HUGE system requirement. You could run one on just about anything PC wise.
 

Mike Chambers

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Sep 2, 2006
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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?

you can use just about any hardware.... even an IBM 5150 is more than enough hardware-wise, if you just stick an old ISA modem in it.
 

ahm

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I ran a few BBSes in my day; a couple of CP/M Citadel systems, a DOS Waffle and ultimately, a Linux Waffle. One of the things I enjoyed about running uncommon board software was that most users didn't seem to know what to do. I guess they'd dial around, expecting to find yet another WWIV or whatever was in fashion, and when they didn't see the usual menu or prompt, their heads would explode. Very few would take the time to figure out something new.

Q: How is running a BBS like keeping a fish tank?
A: In both cases, you're looking through the glass to see what they'll do next.

Andy
 

Flack

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And not just looking, but listening as well.

From the sound of my hard drive I could tell if people were reading messages or transferring files. I have heard other people claim they could actually tell more specifically where people were on the board, according to the sounds.
 

PhotoJim

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Sep 20, 2006
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Regina, SK, CA
Hard drive?

The first BBS I ran was entirely on floppy disk. I could tell if they were reading email or reading columns by how the drive sounded. I didn't have enough space for file transfers, so I knew that wasn't it. :)
 

Mike Chambers

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man i remember my days as a sysop... i started in 94. at first i ran wildcat, but then later programmed my own multi-node BBS program in quickbasic back in around 96. i couldnt test out the multi-node with a second modem or anything, i didnt have one. but if i hooked up a null modem serial cable to another PC it seemed to work. i shut down the BBS permanently back in 98 due to quickly diminishing call volume. :(

at its peak in 95-96 i was getting usually 15-20 calls a day. i miss the board, it was fun to host.

there was something about dialup BBS'ing that was much more interesting than using internet forums. i think it has to do with the fact that each BBS was it's own miniature community with it's own quirks and users... each one a "miniature internet" if you will :)

man i miss those days :(
 

irishmike

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Sep 21, 2006
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Overland Park, KS USA
Yeah, both the Oblvion and Into The Night were started up on a Tandy 1000 TX and hard drives were not yet prolific, there was a hard card which had a 40 MB hard drive on it, but it was very cost prohibitive for us, so we ran RemoteAccess off dual floppies!
 

lucidphreak

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Feb 16, 2009
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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.

Necrothread bump - but I enjoyed your book Mr. Ohara.. Not sure if you said everything you have to say on the subject or if there is possibility of another book, but if so - I would buy it..
 
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