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Best BBS Memories?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the reminiscing-on-the-new-year dept.

Technology 154

TerryAtWork asks: "What are Slashdot readers' best BBS memories? The BBS ruled before the common man got on the Internet and a lot of older Slashdot reader's first on-line experiences were with them."

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CONNECT 1200 (3, Insightful)

gnudutch (235983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7851970)

Creating and sharing ANSI graphics made with TheDraw. Also that "Mad Max" feeling you get from playing Operation Overkill...

Re:CONNECT 1200 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7852780)

Maybe you should look at this [] . ASCII art still lives in Japanese BBS (now web-based, of course), as "Mona-art" []

Re:CONNECT 1200 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853044)

One time I pretended I was a girl and cybersexed a guy just to get leet treasure and xp in some MUD. I kept telling myself I was just doing it for the loot and points but then why was I jacking it?

the warez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853942)

i loved being elite and trading the warez.... yo warez puppies!

In the UK... (5, Interesting)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7851971)

High phone bills.

You see, we pay even for our local calls here, which did put rather a downer on the whole BBS thing.

I remember being envious of the US with the free local calls thing.

"Back in the day" in the UK it was not uncommon to get phone bills of around $300 a month for BBS usage at wonderful 2400 baud.

Then of course we got the "high speed" 9600 model modems. Ahh nostalgia.

Re:In the UK... (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852304)

Did you know that in some cities in the US, you DO have to pay for the local calls? I heard of someone outside of Chicago who got a $1000 phone bill because they were always dialed up.

Re:In the UK... (1)

btlzu2 (99039) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852689)

They must have been dumb and dialed a number outside the 8 mile local call radius. Also, they must not have gotten the call pack where every call in the local phone company's (Ameritech at the time, now SBC) area is $0.10 regardless of time. I used BBCs extensively when I was a kid and the phone bill was no different beacuse I called within 8 miles (there were about 100 BBS's in an 8 mile radius back in the good old days!) :)

When I was 10 years old... (3, Informative)

Exocet (3998) | more than 10 years ago | (#7851999)

My parents gave me and my brother our first computer - an Atari 520ST fm computer with an Emerson 2400 baud modem. This was on advice from a coworker of my dad's who ran an Atari-based BBS.

From day one we were dialing up BBS's. I have since spent countless thousands (tens?) of hours downloading text files, images, programs, whatever. Posting on the boards, chatting with the SysOp if he (never a she) was around. Playing games like Tradewars 2002.

Sometime in late 1996 I got my first email account and internet access from a local ISP, Europa. Until then, though, the only online world I knew was that of the BBS.

BBS's were great but I'd never go back. The ol' internet is far more accessible and wide-reaching. BBS's just can't compete.

BTW: don't dis the Atari. We could go from a cold boot to being dialed up to the local BBS (Puddle City) in less than 60 seconds.

Re:When I was 10 years old... (3, Interesting)

PhaseBurn (44685) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852074)

Yea, when I was 11 or so, I had a Tandy 1000 RL with a 1200 BPS modem in it...

Memories of playing Legend Of the Red Dragon in the early 90s, my first chatroom, learning what shareware was for the first time... All things I fondly remember. Getting laid by Violet back then somehow made me feel like more of a man (er, boy) :-)

And the cool thing is they were all local for the most part ('cept those comming in from telnet, of course). Some of the best memories I have, for instance, are from years after that BBS shut down, and I met a few of the old time members in real life (highschool, work, etc).

If anybody else was from Techlands BBS in South Florida, please e-mail me... I used to be "Davy Crockett" back then :-)

Re:When I was 10 years old... (2, Informative)

NickDngr (561211) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853383)

If anybody else was from Techlands BBS in South Florida, please e-mail me... I used to be "Davy Crockett" back then :-)

Check here. [] This website is set up to reunite BBS users. Note: I am not affiliated, just happen to know of it.

Re:When I was 10 years old... (1)

13Echo (209846) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854531)

Hehe. Gotta thank Seth Able Robinson for some of those great door games. LORD and Planets: TEOS, were some of my favorites. Can't say that I really cared for LORD II though.

Some of my favorite memories are probably of playing DOOM (with the Brickyard map) on the local Dayton Gamenet. There was a great multiline BBS called "The Living City." I believe that it ran off of an Amiga. It had quite a local following. Also, I can remember having one of the fastest modems around... It was a Zoom Telephonics 28.8. I would benchmark it on some BBSs and get the highest connection rates. That sucker was bleeding edge for its time.

Re:When I was 10 years old... (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852195)

No dis here: I had a 1040ST. Those were sweet computers.

My first porn .GIF (4, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852026)

My dad's password was a little too easy to guess.

Re:My first porn .GIF (1)

VerbalPapsmear (734882) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855577)

When I look back on BBSs the first thing that pops up is softcore .gifs. Didn't use them for anything else...thank god for highspeed internet I can get porn at like..10xs the speed!
Also, my local dialup ISP had some kind of BBS that I duped into allowing me two login sessions on my account so me and my friend could play multiplayer Dukenukem :P Goodtimes

Fucking honkies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7852040)

Die you cunts

In the third, no wait, fourth world ... (4, Interesting)

nandix (150739) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852052)

In Uruguay, and most of South America, BBS ruled for as late as 1996-97, when internet access finally made it's way to the public.

I remember expensive phone bills (which my dad covered at the time of course, it's a good thing DSL finally found our little country by the time of my financial independance), and a terrible sense of envy for the folks with 9600 and 14400 connections (i had a 2400 modem).

On a more positive note though, i got a 24 hour reminder of the whole 'BBS era' thing, since i met my wife in one of those networks :). (and no, it was not a dating service, it was a geeky BBS that suddenly got crawled with not-so-geeky types, my wife included, which gave us nerds the chance to meet and relate to people with real world experiences!).

Re:In the third, no wait, fourth world ... (3, Interesting)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852320)

Hmm, there wasn't local internet access where I live until mid 1997. We were one of the first subscribers in the area. The box we used? 386DX-33, 4MB RAM, 120MB HDD (compressed to 170), 14.4Kb/s modem (when we got the tower, we were told it was a 33.6! It was still a good deal, though, as it came with a monitor, keyboard (no mouse) and a dot matrix printer), Windows 3.1, DOS 6.22, and IE 3.01 (we tried 2.1 because it was faster, and almost tried NS 1.22). Damn, if I had known Opera was around back then, I'd have downloaded that! (except I was told to only download to floppy disks, and then extract to the hard drive, so I couldn't download anything more than 1.44MB - so we couldn't update IE, but I guess we could have downloaded Opera)

Re:In the third, no wait, fourth world ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853452)

which gave us nerds the chance to meet and relate to people with real world experiences...

Does that mean your wife was a cumslut whore who came on line looking for a cock to fuck for money? How much does she charge?

The Best Part... (2, Funny)

limekiller4 (451497) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852062)

Finding out they existed.

as a sysop.. (2, Funny)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852063)

Sorting out a UUCP newsfeed (back when internet access meant having a dialup shell..), mostly so I could get the alt.binaries groups and have the best pr0n collection in the region.

Re:as a sysop.. (2, Informative)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852094)

my -earliest- BBS memory was using a 300 baud modem on an SV328, and manually dialling (no AT commands back then!) a part-time BBS in Auckland which was the only one operating in the country at the time.

A bit expensive, so I didn't really do anything else
until a friend got supplied with an XT and smart modem (1200 baud iirc) by his school to set up a BBS. The software was fairly experimental and buggy, and took a lot of setting up.

Thor (1)

noselasd (594905) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852079)

Does anyone remember Thor ? It was an offline message reader/controller for Amiga and worked with AmiBBS. Somewhat similar to a mail client today, where you could download messages, filelists, etc, read them offline, reply, and upload them on the next connect. It rocked.

Re:Thor (1)

LeftOfCentre (539344) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852483)

Yes, I remember it very well and I used it for a period. Mostly though I used Spot by Nico Francois, which was a FidoNet reader. (I was also the author o f an offline reader myself for hooking up to NiKom based BBSes.)

Sex (4, Funny)

Cranx (456394) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852092)

Great cybersex, and of course I nailed a few (cute, by the way) girls on a local BBS. BBS's ruled. It was exciting just getting my computer connected to other people, sure, but the sex owned.

LORD (3, Funny)

slittle (4150) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852314)

Uh, dude... Violet wasn't real...

Re:LORD (1)

kormoc (122955) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854169)

HELL YEAH! Lord ruled! I want to go play it again :P

Re:Sex (2, Funny)

13Echo (209846) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854558)

"Waiting in the forest, waiting for his prey"...
"Cranx didn't care what they would say"...
"He killed in the town, the lands"...
"He wanted evil's blood, on his hands"...
"A true man was Cranx, a warrior proud"...
"He voiced his opinions meekly, never very loud"
"But he ain't no wimp, he took Violet to bed"...
"He's definately a man, at least that's what she said!"

The song makes you glad you are male!

Trade wars 2002 (2, Insightful)

Basje (26968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852144)

nuff said.

Re:Trade wars 2002 (2, Interesting)

caboosesw (215233) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852278)

I'm trying to recall some of the other "great" BBS Door games back in the day. In fact, there was a very, very good BBS system that had "DOOR" in it's name ... it essentially was a shell for running 100's of pre-packaged door modules.

Anyone? Bueller?

Trade Wars (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852363)

I remember Trade Wars. Some BBS owner ran it on an ST. They version they had included a treasure planet called "The Wanderer". The object of the game became to shoot scout ships throughout the universe until they hit the Wanderer. The couple of dozen ships lost was more than made up for by the 800 or so always found by taking possession of The Wanderer's riches.

Re:Trade wars 2002 (2, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855519)

I'll see your TW2002 and raise you a Barren Realms Elite. Or Solar Realms Elite, or Falcon's Eye. Take your pick :-p

Re:Trade wars 2002 (1)

nbvb (32836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7857760)

Mucho agreed.

I'll raise you a Global Wars while I'm at it.

And maybe a "King of the Board" trivia game .....

Re:Trade wars 2002 (1)

Bradlegar the Hobbit (132082) | more than 10 years ago | (#7857343)

I remember solving the (then) inexplicable Ship Records Bug in TW2002. You know, the one where a player's Imperial Starship would suddenly end up as a Mule Trader or an escape pod, or you'd meet yourself out there in the galaxy and any damage you did to that other ship also went to yours. A friend and I wrote and distributed the TWBUGFIX package to correct that problem, and a similar bug where you could inherit all the Ferengi grudges that had been build up by another player.

wormhole add on (1)

CMiYC (6473) | more than 10 years ago | (#7857804)

Anyone use Mad Hatter's Worm-hole add-on? There were ALL kinds of bugs associated with it.

I remember running bigbang.exe and giving it 30-45 mins to create an universe.

I really miss Tradewars. It was an incredible game.

Soundtrack music files (3, Interesting)

forged (206127) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852191)

Long before mp3s the demo enthusiasts would be downloading from their favorite BBS MODs, S3Ms, ULTs, XMs and others at a fraction of the filesize of a typical mp3 (100K/file vs 5MB). We were then using some form of advanced sound card (Gravis) or player (Cubic) to play it all. And it was all free, and mostly kicked ass.

Re:Soundtrack music files (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854895)

I still have a large collection of MODs etc. from my BBS days.

They sound really good mixed at 48KHz.

Virginia Tech ROLM Phone Network (2, Interesting)

SmoothOne (216906) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852196)

VT provided each dorm room with an IBM ROLM phone which had a built-in 19200 BPS modem. In its heyday in the early 90's, there were at least 50 running boards at any one time. The boards were accessible from the outside world, but access to the network was rather obscure which made 99.9% percent of the users VT students. Of course the eventual ethernet connections in the dorms killed off this community.

RIP Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate

RDI (3, Interesting)

The Infamous Grimace (525297) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852213)

The Red Dragon Inn, a BBS I ran off of my Franklin Ace 1000. Written in AppleSoft BASIC. At first I had to run it only at night, but I was finally able to talk my mother into getting me my own phone line. Amber monitors, 5 1/4" floppies, and cracked versions of Ultima IV. Ah, t'were a simpler time. A 9600baud AppleCat modem was the state-of-the-art. I even remember the first GBBS I ever logged into. Can't remember the name, but I remember 'drawing' line graphics in posts.

To be young and phreakin' again...


Re:RDI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7856504)

A 9600baud AppleCat modem was the state-of-the-art.

Your memory is slightly off. The Apple-Cats were 300 bps full duplex, 1200 bps half duplex, unless you had the 212 upgrade card, which would give you 1200 bps full duplex. Although if you had a secondary 9600 bps modem, you could have wired it into the Apple-Cat's auxiliary serial port.


Re:RDI (1)

joshuac (53492) | more than 10 years ago | (#7857596)

Where did you find a 9600baud applecat? :)

Tradewars (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852319)

And those trusting people that wrote BBS software. There was a message board where you could post private msgs to others, and the 'from' field was an editable string. (Hmm, come to think of it nothing much has changed in the past 20 years, has it?) Anyway, I msgd 3 tradewars enemies to move all their ships to a certain sector and signed each msg with one of the others' names. At 11:55 pm I logged in and moved my entire fleet to said sector, comprehensively thrashing the lot of them in one hit. Hey, it was easier than looking for them all over the map ;-) Since then, I've more-or-less behaved myself. Promise. Cheers Simon

My mammories (1)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852335)

Predicting which character was next going to drip out of my 300 baud modem...

For the first time, having access to really whacked out text documents, like the one about how Reagan's SDI ("Star Wars") program was not about defending against nuclear strikes but really about defending against alien invasion...

Playing a serial MUD. There were multiple players, which was cool (even cooler because I knew most of them), but since the BBS had only one phone line, only one person could play at once. (I imagine this was typical in those days, but it seems interesting to me now...)

My first BBS experience? (2, Interesting)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852349)

Had to be over Telnet, into ExecPC (doesn't seem to REALLY exist anymore). This was two years ago. My town never had any BBSes, and got dialup in 1997, so it was all dialup until I discovered telnet.

Skeepa Troll (3, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852353)

I'm recalling a BBS from around 1981 or so, called "Ski's Lodge". It was run on an Apple ][ with a Novation 1200 baud modem. The sysop was called either Ski Patrol or Speeka Troll, I don't quite recall perfectly.

The ski resort motif was complete enough that whenever the BBS program encounted a software error, it would say "AVALANCH" and dump you off line.

Across town there was Worm-O-Net. This was run on a Commodore 64 with a very common and very bad Commodore 64 BBS program (something even worse than C-Net). They did NOT have Auto Answer. Run by the Worm family, you connected to it by dialing the number with the modem. On the other end, little Tina Worm would answer the phone, see if she heard a screech, and then turn on the BBS software.

L.O.R.D, Star Wars MUD, The ANSI Artwork... (1)

Praedon (707326) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852423)

I remember all of those things... I made a few good splash screens when I ran a BBS with three lines... was really popular too.. When I went to other BBS's it was sooo much fun to play with ZModem making it download files... That was awesome.

Warez back then just rocked too, when programs that were over 100 megs was unheard of, and nearly every BBS in my area had them.

Meeting my wife (3, Interesting)

theinfobox (188897) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852431)

I met my future wife for the first time in a chat room on the Compass Rose BBS. That was April 26, 1992 out in California. Nothing can top that memory. I even have the chat log saved from that day.

BBS Memory I'd Like to Forget (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7852476)

I was a 13yr old snot nosed kid and had gotten myself into a flamewar on a local BBS using several obsenities during the course of the thread. Well the sysop didn't fancy that kind of language polluting his board so he took it upon himself to call the house leaving a nasty message on the answering machine, which my mother picked up ... very embarrassing. Right there and then I learned never to use my real demographics when on-line.

Datormagazin (1)

LeftOfCentre (539344) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852509)

"...and a lot of older Slashdot reader's first on-line experiences were with them."

So at age 25, I'm supposed to be all ancient now? Wow. Anyway, I have very fond memories of the BBSes I used to dial with my 2400 bps modem. Unfortunately no local ones were available and I had to dial long-distance. My favourite BBS, particularly at first, was that owned by a great geek C64/Amiga magazine called Datormagazin (legendary in Scandinavia in the late eightees and early to mid ninetees). It had debates better than those typically found on usenet, and there were excellent programming related discussion groups, and lots of freeware or public domain software to download (often with source code, long before the terms "open source" or "free software" were coined).

*@#$*&^#^%$NO CARRIER (4, Funny)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852642)

Oh, wait. That's a worst memory.


Chat-BBS (2, Interesting)

DarkDust (239124) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852688)

When I was 15 years old I got my first modem. And my cousin was sysop for two local (I'm from Munich) BBS's, one was a chat-BBS called StadtNet.

It literally changed my life, since for the first time I met people with whom I could talk about computers (noone in my suburb was into programming, and by the age of 15 I already knew four or five programming languages). But the most important part was that since we were all from Munich or from suburbs of Munich we did a lot together, like having brunch every Sunday or meeting at different restaurant every Tuesday, going to the cinema together, having parties, etc.

I met a lot of people that heavily influenced me because they really impressed me (like a guy who was a real old-school gentleman... it really did me good to have known such a guy, helped later on with flirting to have learned from him ;-)

FidoNet? (1)

friedegg (96310) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852825)

I was 1:114/244. Message networks are one thing I really miss in the "modern" network. Usenet just isn't the same thing, and neither are web forums.

Re:FidoNet? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855428)

ssh://, set up a new account, send in $1, play around, type bboard, voila!

There is a BBS documentary in the works (2, Informative)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852870)

Jason Scott has been working on it for quite a while, see this. []

BBS parties (1)

Kevin Burtch (13372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852906)

After moving 1500 miles from where I grew up, and not knowning any of the locals, meeting fellow geeks at a local BBS party has to rank up there pretty high for me.

Re:BBS parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853007)

That's the only socializing I ever even did back then.

Only now I've advanced to the much better realm of LiveJournal, and meetup [] has replaced BBS Happy Hour/GtG/MnG/Bash/whatever-your-group-called-it.

1989, a Mac SE, Zterm, and 1200 baud. (1)

Big Sean O (317186) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852929)

My best memory was "Uncle Lem's Cabin" ran by a buddy of mine.

A bunch of us played an RPG game on one of his BBS forums. That was a trip. Basically the GM would give us the setup overnight and we would have all day to write up our actions. Some of us coordinated our plans by telephone. Then the GM would read our messages and respond accordingly. During the thick of it, we were doing two rounds a day.

BBS's and GEnie (which was like Compuserve or early AOL) got me through the half-dozen years between having a mainframe account in college and the Internet.

MUD BBS (2, Interesting)

tananda (85834) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852942)

Well, I could write a novel on my BBS memories, but I'll condense it.

Most of my boarding occured in Texas, most notably on After Hours BBS, Adrenalyze (later just called Adren), and Adam's Garden.

Through these boards, I made the best friends of my teens, some of which I still talk to now (and others, I've lost contact with for eons, and then seemed to re-meet 8 years later on some random MUD). I also recall having two short-lived boards of my own, one running Renegade, the other running MajorBBS (which later came to be called WorldGroup -- about the same time they put a windows GUI to it).

The most special, however, after getting over the "Oooh I'm special cuz I'm a SYSOP like everybody else", was playing MajorMUD, and then Adren started hosting something similar to MajorMUD, a place called Realms of Thoth, that later became a telnet MUD.

I've been addicted to text-based RPG's ever since then. ( port 4080.. we're not hack-n-slash, we require brains!)

Re:MUD BBS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7852961)

In preview, that said mud > bbs (the subject line)

Usurper (1)

spudwiser (124577) | more than 10 years ago | (#7852944)

did _you_ ever get the last blade?

C-Net (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853012)

Does anyone remember C-Net [] , a rather common and rather annoying BBS program for the Commodore 64?

I'm sure there were still some C-Net BBS's running when someone decided to use the name as an Internet news/download site. When I first heard of [] , I wondered "Why bring a bad BBS into the Internet era?"

Re:C-Net (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853853)

I've been running the half-brother of C-Net - Image BBS for well over a decade. (I did use C-Net 10 and 12 for a while, solid programs, they help make BBSsing great!)

Both C-Net and Image are well regarded for being very programmable (used an ML core but most of the functions and game modules are moifyable BASIC) and they are very stable - I have my BBS running for MONTHS without even looking at it. (minor syntax errors in the modules just makes the board jump back to a main prompt, and add a report to the log) no memory leaks whatsoever.

As far as 'my best BBS expereince' that was during the height of Comm-Net the Multi-Commodore BBS network circa 1995 (combining networked mail and message boards between Image, C-Net 128, C-Net DS-2 and Color 64 BBSs across the U.S. and Canada - maybe one in Australia). On the Silicon Realms' thrice weekly net transfers we'd be getting in about 300 new messages, man was that a great feeling!

Larry Anderson aka JoeCommodore
Sysop Silicon Realms BBS (209) 754-1363 (on-line for 17 years!)
300-14.4k running Image BBS on a Commodore 8-bit!

Re:C-Net (1)

JDWTopGuy (209256) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854211)

Darn, I can't think of a way to slashdot your Commodore!

Re:C-Net (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854747)

Darn, I can't think of a way to slashdot your Commodore! It's a single line BBS, just one call will do it. :-)

A major high point of my life ... (3, Insightful)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853058)

was designing and running David's Amazing BBS, which existed in its best form from 1987-1991. As the "big fish in a small pond", I made a lot of friends and even got a couple of good relationships out of it.

I wrote my own software that ran on a Microport Unix system. I had an assistant named REM, and he kept on telling me SCO was better, but I could never afford it. Considering current developments, I thought that was worth noting.

My system was always crashing because I was running it on flaky hardware. Unfortunately, revenues from my rates ($7.50/month, $35/6months, $60/year) were enough to pay the phone bill and maybe give me a few bucks in spending money, but not nearly enough to replace the hardware.

I wrote the software myself, including a very nice WELL-like public board system. The boards would be intelligent one day and horrible flamewars the next. I never figured out how to balance free speech versus flames, a problem that I think was solved pretty well on Slashdot. Perhaps if I'd had the time to think things through instead of having a real job, I could have figured it out. But of course there were no revenues.

I had a fancy dating questionnaire system, which I still think was the best in the industry. It let you answer questions multiple choice and by writing essays, whichever you liked better. Unfortunately, with only five phone lines plus one "secret" one outside of the rotary, there weren't enough lines for a real chat board, and I didn't have the bucks to expand.

When the hardware finally died, so did the system. A few years later I became a minor-league ISP but things were never the same. The BBS world was a lot more fun.

I got spoiled by the local nature of the BBS, where everyone knew your name, and you could put together parties at local restaurants and the like. It was so much nicer then than the current, more anonymous and harder to crack, community. Even after 1,500-odd posts on Slashdot, I don't feel I really know anyone; it's just too big.

But on the BBS, I knew everyone.

My love life never recovered from dropping out of the BBS world :-(.


Re:A major high point of my life ... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855939)

Enter (aka journals) on slashdot, and you'll meet and know plenty of people. BTW, more than 791 posts, and you officially need to get a life [] .

memories (5, Funny)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853123)

Dad to me: How the heck could you spend $400 in long distance last month?!

Me to dad: Don't worry, I got about $1000 worth of free software.

Re:memories (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855024)

Now, THAT was funny!

Back in '91, I was in my freshman year at Drexel. I quickly discovered BBSing and before I bought my own modem at home I was using the four Mac SE/30s with dial-out capability they had in the computer center for hours at a time, basically doing nothing but downloading software. Often I would turn down the brightness on the screens all the way, so people wouldn't notice what was going on-- then I'd go to class, and return to load up the box of blank floppies in my backpack with the now-downloaded warez. Those machines didn't get used very much by anyone else for some reason-- I think only once did someone complain about me hogging all of them all the time. Long distance charges were never a problem, the Philadelphia area had a ton of cool boards that were only local calls.... Land of Oz, Ferrari's Shop, ARB-1... <sniffle>


Re:memories (1)

Sarreq Teryx (165185) | more than 10 years ago | (#7856387)

The Big Red One/Huge Knockers, Carrier Detect, Blackboard....

this line of reasoning sounds familiar... (4, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855602)

Me to wife: How the heck could you spend $400 on clothes?

Wife to me: Don't worry, I got about $1000 worth.

The Day I Got my Dual Standard... (4, Interesting)

annielaurie (257735) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853215)

Had to be the day I signed for the package containing my USRobotics HST Dual Standard modem.

The 9600/14.4 modem retailed for almost $1500 in the late Eighties, and there was a sysop's discount of 50%. It took me months to save up that $795 plus shipping. I had them ship it to my office so I wouldn't miss being there to receive it. Fortunately my immediate boss (who also operated a BBS) had an appreciation of the finer things in life, and we spent half the afternoon looking at it, reading its large and content-filled manuals, and going over what I would need to do to to get it to function with my Fido/Opus BBS setup.

I well remember stopping by Baynesville Electronics to pick up my 16550/AFN UART, and as well the new driver chips. These were quickly installed, and I set to work after supper configuring the system and the modem. It had a wonderfully rich and complex set of registers and commands; you could get it do do just about anything you wanted. Friends passed around prized init strings the way church ladies pass around prized recipes, and I received several "Heard you got your modem. How's it going?" phone calls that evening. I had it up and running by midnight. Most fun was to watch the mail transfers running along at warp speed. The final touch: Adding that prized "HST" to the BBS's tag line. Noblesse oblige, and I became a mail point with the next Nodelist update.

I mostly remember two things:

First, I enjoyed and greatly miss the sense of community among most of the BBS sysops of that net--Net-261. Knowledge was shared freely, help was forthcoming, and the group was an extended family. I formed friendships that are still valued almost twenty years later. We often got together personally, and our families got to know one another as well.

Second, there's never been a piece of hardware as much fun to work on as a modem that's intended to drive a BBS.

The Keeping Room: Opus 1:261/1055 HST
Gone these many years, but never forgotten

Still around.. (2, Informative)

WiKKeSH (543962) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853217)

Hey, BBSes are still around, though they are only kept around for nostalgia nowadays...

there are a lot of telnet boards such as and

There are stil plenty of groups thta draw ascii and ansi too...

check them out at and

My BBS memories... (1)

GrendelT (252901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853526)

Door Games: Tradewars, Global War
Downloads: MODs, Shareware Demos (DukeNuken, Stunts, Wolf3d, Doom)
Dwango - for you Doom players out there, it was local for us Houston,TX-folk.

My computer when i started BBSing was a 286, 40Mb HD, EGA monitor, 2400baud modem. This was all given to me by a now good friend of mine. Thanks Stevie G!
Right after Wolf and Doom, i realized i needed one of those fast 386/DX machines, so again Steve hooked me up. got a 386/DX-66, 4Mb, 125Mb HD, VGA, and a 14.4baud... i was ready to rock.
My favorite BBSs were Mont Belvieu BBS and The Ice Castle. ...and FWIW, Zamfir's Magic Castle.

My favourite BBS (1)

Jorkapp (684095) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853625)

Back in the day (I was quite young, about 7 or 8), me and my 386/33 2400baud would dialup to my uncle's BBS. There were a million fun things to do there. Chat, Food Fight (a really fun game), Shareware downloads, and a whole bunch more.

Unfortunately, the day I upgraded to 14.4k was the day he shut down.

Fidonet Used Book Squad (1)

bryanp (160522) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853761)

Favorite memories? Upgrading from 2400. I paid $300 for a used Intel SatisFAXtion 14.4 internal modem. Whoa. The screens of text are drawing faster than I can read them. Cool.

Chatting on local message boards and then discovering Fidonet. Back then I hung out in the Fidonet SF Echo. One day someone in the echo mentioned that he had been looking for a particular book that was OOP and couldn't find it at any of the local used bookstores. Somebody elsewhere in the country said "Hey, I saw that book the other day at a local used bookstore. I could pick it up for you, just reimburse me." You could just see the collective light go on over everyone's head and suddenly the Fidonet Used Book Squad (FUBS) was born. I had a spreadsheet keeping track of who I owed books or payment to and who owed me books or payment. We even had a t-shirt printed up.

Yeah, we were a bunch of nerds.

My memories... (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853771)

I was a sysop between 1994 and 2000. I met the best people in the world and the worst. Once I was taken out of my house by police in the middle of the night because I had a "dangerous" file on my BBS. Once an other pissed off sysop threathened to kill me. I shut down my own BBS in 1998. After Y2K, I shut down the other BBS I was looking after (the original Sysop basicly lost interest in running the system but didn't want to terminate it so I took over) because I couldn't find anyone dedicated to look after it.

My BBS started as a 2400 baud, 52MB, 4MB RAM i386 with Desqview & Maximus ended as a 28.8k baud, 8MB RAM, 1.2GB i486 with OS/2 (still Maximus! It was one of the best systems out there, fully configurable, written in C, in later versions it had its own programming language, which was just brilliant).

The other system started as 4x2400+8x14.4k modems, 3 boxes with Novell 3 and Maximus and ended as 9x33.6k modems + 2 terminal servers and TCP/IP ability (to allow telnet connections), all running on a single OS/2 box (with Maximus of course).

I had some of my happies memories with my Net friends and probably most of my worst memories as well.

A lot of BBS software never survived Y2K. By that time most of the amateurs had moved over to Internet. A number of software just stopped functioning, some survived... Just... But the community didn't survive Internet. I always hoped our local community would just switch to the net and I tried by best but what's left of them are just a closed, paranoid group and I don't want to have anything to do with them.

"The Uke" and Fidonet (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854062)

My favorite BBS experience was a *nix based BBS in Norfolk, VA called "The Genuine Aloha Ukelele" (major trivia points to anyone who can name the source). It was networked (UUCP) with a few other similar hobbyist systems, the only one I recall being "Milo's Meadow". After being a good user for a while, I got shell access. I had no idea what that was. But I learned.

Also, I ran one of the very few Apple II based Fidonet nodes, "Radio Free Earth". I got to be a moderator for the Apple and Writing echoes (e.g. newsgroups). That was an excellent learning experience as far as learning to get people to get along with each other in a medium where flaming was so easy. Although I'd been on usenet before, it wasn't until we got our software to be usenet message format complaint that I started interacting with it much. Just as in many things, working hard to get this capability made me appreciate it more.

Re:"The Uke" and Fidonet (1)

axolotl_farmer (465996) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855166)

It's from 'Holiday in Wakiki' by the Kinks!

So what's my Prize? :)

Re:"The Uke" and Fidonet (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855633)

axolotl_farmer sez: "It's from 'Holiday in Wakiki' by the Kinks! So what's my Prize? :)"

Sorry, no cookie. The second line in the second verse is "Because a genuine hawaii ukulele cost me 30 guineas".

But at least that was an honest attempt. Sooner or later someone will Google it out as an instrument supposedly played by Brian May of Queen on "A Night At The Opera". For all I know he really did play one. But that's where the name's from.

older Slashdot reader's (1)

rot26 (240034) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854175)

A-hem. I resent that. And go clean your room, it's a mess.

The BEST thing about BBS's, at least in the early days, was that it wasn't something that just ANYBODY could figure out how to do... it sure kept the riff-raff out. We had an actually COMMUNITY of users who, for the most part, knew each other personally and weren't above getting together regularly for all-night drunks. We had our share of devil-worshippers and wife swappers (and of course, devil-worshipping-wife-swappers) but get a few beers into 'em and they could be a lot of fun. There were also warez-kiddeez with their grocery sacks full of debo'd C64 crap on 5-1/4" floppies... but I think the average IQ among 'em still hovered near the genius range, much unlike their equivalent today... God bless their pointy little heads.


The barrier to entry kept the riff-raff out... (1)

Myself (57572) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855895)

That's a great way to put it, and boy could the internet use some de-riff-raffing. I remember the first time I heard a modem connect tone on a radio advertisement. My jaw dropped, and my train of thought went something like this:

"Wtf? Do they expect their listeners to know what that sound means?"

"Hmm, maybe this is getting big enough that they do."

"Oh well. There goes the neighborhood."

BBS parties were great! All my friends' parents thought I was the "good kid", so they wouldn't get to go to parties unless I was going too. Oh man...

Upgrading from 2400 to 14400 was like trading in the Schwinn for a Ferrari. I waited 'til the proprietary 19.2's came out, so the prices on the 14.4's dropped into my range.

Zmodem was my god, and Bluewave came in a close second. HSLink came on the scene too late to be useful, but chatting with the sysop while uploading a file earned me better-than-average access on at least one board that I can remember.

RIPscrip' was for weenies that couldn't handle a text interface. I still feel that way about Flash.

The HackerMobile... (1)

dourk (60585) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854606)

...was an old b/w tv and a Vic-20 with a 300bps modem bungie corded to an old Radio Flyer. We'd pull that out from my room to the one phone [] in the house. We'd have to dial the number by hand, wait for the carrier, unplug the handset, and plug the wire into the modem.

There were at least 10 people active on that (single-line) BBS running on an Apple ][+. My brother and I would be up until the wee hours of the morning watching text scroll slower than we could read it on that 22 character wide display...

Once, we even had the FBI show up unexpectedly at our door. Mom was pissed. What great memories!

Why, the disconnects of course! (3, Funny)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7854840)

At 2400 bps...
Starting XMODEM download of "SOMEGAME.ZIP"...

Recieved 1000 of 1003 blocks

CRC Error UIERUEWHtxnsfer&^(HUP cancell&*)Y&Hed
23-8490280jasdfj08ref9&*^f79H-f9y Fhiuy_)(&yf7-98#

Thank God Zmodem came along...

Earliest BBS memory: piracy! (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855084)

I'll never forget it. I was at my cousin's house, and he had a C64 and a 300 baud modem. Right before my eyes, he dialed up some pirate BBS, downloaded a cracked copy of Out Run, [] and we started playing.

That was the "first one's free!" experience that set me on the long road to internet addiction. And that was also the day I began to dislike the woefully un-modemed Tandy 1000 my parents had gotten me.


RyBBS representin' (1)

embobo (1520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855114)

Circa 1990, while in college at Lawrence University [] I ran RyBBS, written by Greg Ryan [] , from my dorm room (in Plantz Hall [] , the jock dorm) at night, from 7pm to 7am. The hardware was a Tandy IBM 8088 and a 2400 baud modem. Memories:

  • Forgetting to turn it on, answewing a phone call, and hearing a shy female voice timidly ask "Um, is the BBS running?" I said "oops, I'll turn it on now," hung up, fired the BBS up, and proceeed to have a conversation with the caller.
  • My friends complaining that when they would try to call me they would be greated with a shrieking sound.
  • Whenever a converstation with the sysop (me) was requested, my printer would print out the request. (I don't recall why this was a good idea. Maybe something to do with multitasking.) One of my friends told this girl that would hang out in my room that I was running a speech recognition program and my computer was processing our conversations. She believed him.

Re:RyBBS representin' (1)

embobo (1520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855165)

Damn, I can't spell. I should have used mozex [] to edit the textbox with emacs and ran a spell checker.

Blast from the Past (1)

gklinger (571901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855147)

I grew up with the Commodore Vic-20 and 64 so I have strong nostalgic memories of the Commodore BBS scene. Luckily, that scene isn't dead. There are a bunch of C= boards you can access over the Internet. You can find a partial list here [] . I know what you're thinking. Accessing C= boards via telnet is well and good but without the colour graphics, it's boring. You're right. That's why you need CGTerm [] or CBMTerm [] which will give you the full-on experience.

Oh, and if all this BBS talk has stirred up the sysop in you and you want to put up a BBS, go for it! You can get BBS software here [] and instructions on how to connect your 64 or 128 to the Internet here [] .

Remember, if the present ain't working for you, do what I do. Live in the past!

Ah... The memories! (0)

delajt (685959) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855169)

Making the first connection to a BBS through an 14k4 modem

Making my first account on an Amiga warez BBS

Getting the first upload to a warez BBS

Getting the first 3:1 download ratio

Getting the first unlimited download ratio

Becoming a warez trader between several boards

Getting a US Robotics 21k6 modem

Being asked for several warez groups as a courier

Getting my v.Fast (28k8) modem

Getting high phone bills

Opening my own BBS (ATMOSPHERE)/Being a sysop

Having a rather successfull single-node BBS

Going to some really *GREAT* parties with where the entire Dutch Amiga scene was at

Tweaking my A2000 to whatever Mhz

Having a ventilator blowing into an open A2000 casing during a hot summer to prevent overheating

Having a friend over to backup the uploads every friday evening between 18:00-19:00 on DAT tape

Running into some trouble with police

Connecting my BBS for the first time through telnet on the internet

having really long chats with my users (even without the use of Hydra protocol)

Ever since september 1996 I miss my BBS. The last few months I've been trying to use WinUAE and Diavolo backup to retrieve a backup DAT tape dated 1996 to get to my old BBS... Still no progress but keeping hope that one day I can get to my old AmiExpress (/X) backup for nostalgic reasons.

I more or less think that the tape will be f*cked though...

So I'm a troll! (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855245)

I remember the first time that a local BBS gave me access to an "adult" posting area.

I automatically had to make a mockery of it to the effect of :

cemetary + shovel = instant orgy

I was banned pretty quickly. Heh.

Door games! (1)

shadowxtc (561058) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855463)

I used to run "Skynet BBS" in the Boston area, a 2-node 28.8k Wildcat system (originally 1-node 2400bps Renegade system).

Some of the best stuff I can remember from the day were door games - namely LORD (Legend of the Red Dragon) and BRE (Barren Realms Elite). BRE was incredible in that leagues were created by teams of BBS systems sharing user data during off-hours. LORD was just a great text based RPG.

Another thing that was cool was Renegade itself. Although it was freeware, it was better than its commercial competition in many ways. I've always longed for some of its powers to be transplanted to the web.

Then, of course there were the beautiful ANSI graphics you knew were always hand-crafted. And the fact the entire system was made possible by other local hackers. Message boards were far better than today - there were no trolls, there was no flamebait, and spam was still a food best avoided.

Those were the days..... gone forever, I'm afraid.

Re:Door games! (1)

shadowxtc (561058) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855490)

I guess it's only right I add in a mention of FIDONet, which is amazingly still alive and kicking.

Any "real" BBS of the time had a connection to FIDOnet. With that, private messages like e-mail could be sent between any two individual users of separate BBS systems. Group message boards could also be tapped into, like the newsgroups of today (perhaps it was actually feeding off usenet and I just didn't know?).

Anyway, FIDONet was awesome too. And free (except for dialup charges).

Re:Door games! (0)

delajt (685959) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855566)

Hack & Slash was a really good game too... remember logging onto a BBS every night just after midnight to play a round (hello "The Hobbit" ;D)

So hard... (1)

xmuskrat (613243) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855576)

This was most of my life. I loved the ten thousand times we fooled the same people by creating fake "crossdressers" on the board. It got 'em every time.

BMUG - Berkely Macintosh Users Group (1)

randoms (194768) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855856)

It was the best. We even upgraded to First Class sometime in the late 80's I think; no more zterm. I used to dowload every piece of new software I could. /Randoms

A Commodore with a 300-baud modem ... (1)

cool_st_elizabeth (730631) | more than 10 years ago | (#7855896)

and a program I typed in from a magazine article! That was in 1988. I formed strong friendships with several people I met on one particular BBS, and was engaged to two different men from there.

Running The Underworld (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7855980)

I ran the Underworld back in the 80's - 309 area code. Had a single private line installed in my dorm room just for the BBS (had to petition the university to get it). Ran on an Apple ][ clone that I built, with an Apple Cat modem (1200 baud full duplex), then upgraded to a USR 2400 baud modem later. 10MB (yes MB) hard drive as big as a shoebox, running UBBS software...

Fantastic experience. Rewrote everything around a D&D motif, reprogrammed the autodialers on campus to include my BBS, and posted flyers all over the place with scans from the Fiend Folio (scanned in with a Thunderscanner on my Mac128)...

Met some fantastic people over the BBS, some of whom I am still friends with (18 years later). Plus it was a great way to get laid by Comp Sci cuties - come on up and check out the hardware...

Ahhhh, those were the days... Life was never the same after the Internet took over....but that's good too...

Several (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7856006)

Downloading SLS Linux at 2400 baud (With thanks to a kindly sysop who agreed to waive the u/d ratio for the 30 floppies worth). It had kernel 0.96 or so. Certainly a huge step up from Windows 3.1 and DOS.

The elation of getting MNP 5 and not having to backspace over line noise any more (but there was still the sysop's cat walking on the keyboard).

Trying to guess how many days it would take for a message to propigate through fidonet.

Playing 24 games of chess one move per night per game through the chess door.

Phil Katz vs. Seaware, with Seware being banned from BBSs everywhere because of the ugly and stupid lawsuit over the .arc extension. The ban was just as well, PKzip was much better than arc anyway.

Using ANSI codes to create color animated messages or change the from field on the message.

WWIV mods... (1)

lsdino (24321) | more than 10 years ago | (#7856184)

My favorite BBS memory has to be doing modifications to WWIV [] . It's the way I learned C and it was a lot of fun.

WWIV was the most popular BBS system in my area, and of course it had it's WWIVnet that had message boards networked across the country.

On WWIVnet people would post mods to the source code for WWIV (which was available if you registered for $50). I got $50 from my Mom so I could get the source code (being around 14 at the time). I started downloading the mods from the local BBSes and the message boards and modifying the code. After a while I started trying to make my own modifications and when successful sent them out to boards (a couple of popular ones being a conferencing system and a vertical chat modification).

Anyway, it's amazing to think about how much I sucked at programming back then, but it was a great start.

Oh, and the people were great too. :) I have many friends still to this day that I gained from BBSes. So it's really had quite an impact upon my life, amazing.

(Apparently there's a WWIV 5.0 beta now, years and years later. Occasionaly I check up what's going on, and this seems fairly new (last 6 months?). It's amazing it's taken this long though - I was able to port WWIV to ncurses on Linux in a weekend.)

BBSing in Eastern Iowa (1)

tvalley000 (410933) | more than 10 years ago | (#7856514)

In jr high/hs, a number of friends got me hooked on the local Apple BBS scene. It wasn't until college that I started getting into running a few of my own. I got to know all of the local sysops, and we felt like the kings among our peers (those peers being the types with which your common RPGamer wouldn't condescend to socialize).

A favorite memory was hosting a local convention where we got the guy who wrote Qmodem to show up and give a talk about the future of BBSing. At that time, he spoke of interlinked BBSes using a packet switching network as a way of synching the disparate message stores.

A while after that, I hooked up a couple of my endeavors to the ISCA Fido node, and started in on global messaging. At that time, I participated in (as many did) in a flame war with Joel Rosenberg over the term "Cyberpunk" in sf.fandom (Joel's a fantasy/sf writer of some note).

Of course, as soon as I discovered free MUDing, nothing was ever the same for me, and I never looked back.

When i got my USRobotics 16.8k Dual Standard (1)

kaltkalt (620110) | more than 10 years ago | (#7856991)

I was more 3l33t at that very moment than everyone else on the planet.

Synchronet (1)

cyan (370) | more than 10 years ago | (#7857690)

Synchronet is still a very popular piece of BBS software that's used by a great number of BBS's worldwide even today. It's still being actively developed, and is 100% open source, running on Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and a handful of others (including Win32.) Its features are beginning to rival even those of WorldGroup, with all its built-in services. It can even run old-school DOS doors under Linux by using DOSEMU. When you compare this to other BBS packages out there (such as Falken BBS, which has all but stopped development since changing owners,) it's nice to see BBS software that's still being actively developed with daily CVS commits.

You can check out a list of BBS's running Synchronet (many of them with friendly, active sysops) at [] , or a bigger list of BBS's (all checked to be active on at least a monthly basis) at [] . You can, of course, find out more of Synchronet at [] .

In related news, Fidonet is still alive and well, and when you compare it against today's spam-infested usenet, Fidonet is actually quite the attractive alternative. BBS's may be outdated and more a novelty these days than anything, but it's still the only thing out there that has that nice, close-knit 'family-like' atmosphere.

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