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DoctorPepper
August 31st, 2006, 03:02 AM
I stumbled across this article this morning on my daily rounds of the Internet:

http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/161

It kind of struck a nostalgic chord in me, taking me back many years to when I used to be a frequent BBS user.

Anyone else on here have any fond (or not so fond) memories of the "golden age" of the dial-up BBS?

mbbrutman
August 31st, 2006, 05:57 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 06:08 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 06:16 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 06:29 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 09:06 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 10:01 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 11:04 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 11:22 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 11:22 AM
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
August 31st, 2006, 12:54 PM
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
August 31st, 2006, 01:12 PM
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
August 31st, 2006, 02:16 PM
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
August 31st, 2006, 02:31 PM
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
August 31st, 2006, 04:00 PM
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.

80sFreak
August 31st, 2006, 05:35 PM
There were only two reasons for owning a modem, calling a BBS or running one.

Or, after just seeing WarGames (http://imdb.com/title/tt0086567/) wanting to get a modem + wardialer to hack into computers and change your grade... ;) ;) (or to play Global Thermonuclear War)

Cheers,

80sFreak

Flack
September 1st, 2006, 04:37 AM
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
September 1st, 2006, 04:59 AM
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

ribbets
September 1st, 2006, 05:08 AM
if I remember right triBBS was one of the programs we used the most and I believe it is still available

phe
September 1st, 2006, 05:09 AM
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....

DoctorPepper
September 1st, 2006, 05:23 AM
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
September 9th, 2006, 08:34 AM
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

Terry Yager
September 9th, 2006, 08:46 AM
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
September 9th, 2006, 12:02 PM
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
September 19th, 2006, 01:20 PM
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
September 20th, 2006, 04:40 AM
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
September 21st, 2006, 05:33 PM
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
September 27th, 2006, 09:37 AM
I ran a few BBSes in my day; a couple of CP/M Citadel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citadel_(software)) systems, a DOS Waffle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waffle_(bbs)) 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
September 27th, 2006, 01:01 PM
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
October 7th, 2006, 11:38 AM
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
October 7th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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
October 7th, 2006, 02:10 PM
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!