BBS (bulletin board system): The Documentary


4069584 122aa0cde0 t BBS (bulletin board system): The Documentary
ANSI art,
originally uploaded by inf.
I’ve been fiddling with computers long enough that I remember the glory nostalgic days of pre-internet era called Bulletin Board Systems. You hooked up your 9600 baud modem and dialed through your list of BBSs, hoping that one of them could answer. During that time a phone call at our area charged around 0,08€€ a shot, no matter how long it was (!) As BBSs were mostly _the source_ of interesting files and discussions, you idled in BBSs just after midnight and consumed your precious daily download ratio till the morning, maybe playing some rounds of L.O.R.D at the same time or chatting with the SysOp in a split-screen chat.

The world’s largest BBS was MBnet, located in Finland in my local area. It had 1000 nodes. MBnet was great for general-interest files, chat and door games, but the most interesting stuff was found in the topic-specific underground BBSs, often decorated with great looking character-based art.

I operated my single-line private BBS back in the day for a limited number of friends. I based it on the now notorious PcBoard software. First calls were most interesting.. “no one, in any circumstance, answer that phone when it rings, thank you!”

Trivia: Did you know, that the FILE_ID.DIZ files still around today were popularized by the PcBoard software? The reason was to include file descriptions inside the archives to let the users use the FILE_ID.DIZ contents as description of the uploaded file instead of writing their own.

ANSI and ASCII graphics also took off during those glorious days, which are still competed as an art form in the scene. I also got into drawing my own (see the inlined image). I also programmed in PPL, a Basic-like programming language for extending your PcBoard software.

The interesting thing about BBSs is that the glorious days were short lived. The unsung heroes who invented and prospered in the BBS community later affected how the internet formed out. These smart people are now scattered all around the world. That’s why the BBS: The Documentary coming out in the following months is an important piece of work. Thank you! I’m so getting this.

This is important. A full-fledged documentary of BBSs does not exist. BBSs are often just a side note in stories like the Hacker Crackdown of a place where crackers meeted and discussed their attacks.

There is some entertaining media already available about the production.

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