Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 10th Apr 2017 13:51 UTC
Internet & Networking

Today, many can be forgiven for thinking that the digital communications revolution kicked off during the mid-1990s, when there was simply an explosion of media and consumer interest in the World Wide Web. Just a decade earlier, however, the future was now for the hundreds of thousands of users already using home computers to communicate with others over the telephone network. The online culture of the 1980s was defined by the pervasiveness of bulletin board systems (BBS), expensive telephone bills, and the dulcet tones of a 1200 baud connection (or 2400, if you were very lucky). While many Ars readers certainly recall bulletin board systems with pixelated reverence, just as many are likely left scratching their heads in confusion ("what exactly is a BBS, anyway?").

It's a good thing, then, that a dedicated number of vintage computing hobbyists are resurrecting these digital communities that were once thought lost to time. With some bulletin board systems being rebooted from long-forgotten floppy disks and with some still running on original 8-bit hardware, the current efforts of these seasoned sysops (that is, system administrators) provide a very literal glimpse into the state of online affairs from more than three decades ago. And while services such as the Internet Archive are an excellent resource for studying the growth of the World Wide Web as it's frozen in time, these hobbyists are opening portals today for modern users to go places that have been long forgotten.

I was too young to experience the BBS age - I'm from 1984 - so I always like to read up about it whenever I get the chance. This is an excellent article on the topic.

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First time online...
by leech on Mon 10th Apr 2017 14:13 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

Was with Compuserve with a 300 baud modem that I still have for my 800XL.

Reply Score: 5

RE: First time online...
by Sauron on Mon 10th Apr 2017 15:12 UTC in reply to "First time online..."
Sauron Member since:
2005-08-02

I have a 800XL and 600XL with the 850 serial/parallel expansion but have never had a modem connected to them. I may try it one day along with telnet.
I used to visit a few BBS's on my Amiga back at the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties, I sure miss those days.

Reply Score: 3

RE: First time online...
by Ibrahim on Mon 10th Apr 2017 16:08 UTC in reply to "First time online..."
Ibrahim Member since:
2016-11-03

The 800xl, such fond memories. My mom taught me to program in BASIC with that computer, back in the 80's. Coolest thing for a 8 year old, who was always ill.

Reply Score: 1

RE: First time online...
by JLF65 on Mon 10th Apr 2017 17:25 UTC in reply to "First time online..."
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

My first time online was using a JCat 300 baud modem with my Atari 400. I wrote my own VT101 terminal emulator and used it to write programs on the vax at the university for class. It was easier than trying to sign up for time on the terminals at the Engineering College. Several years later, we ran our own BBS on an Amiga 2000 for our business. It was setup with three extra serial ports with modems going to four phone lines. Imagine - FOUR WHOLE PEOPLE could be on our BBS at once! ;)

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: First time online...
by leech on Tue 11th Apr 2017 00:34 UTC in reply to "RE: First time online..."
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Ouch, typing on the 400 was a nightmare. Growing up, my neighbor had the 400, a friend had an 800, and I had the 800XL. Now I own the aforementioned 800XL (still works!), 130XE, 600XL, XEGS, and an 800.

I have an XM301 modem still and the 850 (which I have yet to ever set up, since I think I got DSL sometime after, though I do have a dial up account...)

Most of my BBS time was spent on my Mega STe.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: First time online...
by JLF65 on Tue 11th Apr 2017 14:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: First time online..."
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, the membrane keyboard was a pain... which is why I immediately replaced it with the BKey replacement full-stroke keyboard. That gave it an AWESOME keyboard. ;)

Eventually, my A400 had the BKey Keyboard, the Mosaic 64KB expanded ram, the A850 and JCat modem, a Percom DS/DD floppy, and an Olivetti Spark Jet printer connected to the printer port on the Percom. I used that until about 1988 when I got an Amiga 500 to replace it.

Edited 2017-04-11 14:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Licaon_Kter
by Licaon_Kter on Mon 10th Apr 2017 17:06 UTC
Licaon_Kter
Member since:
2010-03-19

In some parts of the world BBS was a thing up to the year 2000.
Although once one got an internet connection via that modem, BBS was a thing of the past instantly.

/LE: `member https://www.osnews.com/story/23142/Digital_A_Love_Story ?

Edited 2017-04-10 17:25 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Licaon_Kter
by whartung on Mon 10th Apr 2017 20:29 UTC in reply to "Comment by Licaon_Kter"
whartung Member since:
2005-07-06

In some parts of the world BBS was a thing up to the year 2000.
Although once one got an internet connection via that modem, BBS was a thing of the past instantly.


Meh, I think people are fixated on the technology. "Be amazed it worked at all".

I used to frequent a view BBS's back in the day, including the one for our Mac user group hosted in the bedroom of one of the members, behind his 1200 baud modem on a Apple //, with a 5MB(!!) hard drive.

Then you had the ad hoc Fido network, along with the large national systems: Genie, CompuServe, AOL, Bytes BIX. I used to be a member of BIX.

Of course, we had the BBS on the central (statewide) mainframes at college. Mostly notable for email. I used to connect with that on my Model 100 and it's inbuilt 300 baud modem. It was quite useful, as you could compose the message offline on the computers 40 col screen, then tell the program to upload it with 80 character lines. Worked a treat.

Eventually I had a 2400 baud USENET and uucp mail feed (yay ! addresses), and when I lost that, I lived on a dial up Netcom shell account for email (elm) and news (nn). I kept that until they shut it down. I didn't get an actual internet (cable modem) connection until 1998, since I finally broke down and got cable TV as well.

But the real value of the BBS's were not the technology per se, but the locality of the communities around them. Folks would routinely get together for meals, game session, "trading" software. Thats where the intimacy came from. Jerry Pournelle, as a Byte author, would frequent BIX, and would regularly host dinners in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to go to one of those once. It has, like, 8-10 people.

This locality still exists today, even on the internet. There are many local forums with the international reach of the internet. They, too, will act as a central organization point for folks of like interest to get together, and do whatever it is they do. You don't need a modem to do this, just a community in touch.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by Licaon_Kter
by Alfman on Tue 11th Apr 2017 05:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Licaon_Kter"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

whartung,

But the real value of the BBS's were not the technology per se, but the locality of the communities around them. Folks would routinely get together for meals, game session, "trading" software. Thats where the intimacy came from. Jerry Pournelle, as a Byte author, would frequent BIX, and would regularly host dinners in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to go to one of those once. It has, like, 8-10 people.


Indeed, locality did help to make the BBS scene special. I feel it was a tighter community since you could become familiar with everyone on the BBS in ways that don't scale to larger networks. If someone was the same age there was a high probability you went to the same highschool together.

Mutliplayer games were fun over modem.


No surprise that download and upload times were awful, haha. It was a big problem (on DOS) because the computer couldn't do much else other than sit at the transfer screen for tens of minutes or even hours. I used a program called telemate, which could edit files and do minor things without interrupting the transfer.

Anyone from those days will remember leaving the computer running overnight to download anything!


Even back then I had a fascination with programming computers.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by SaschaW
by SaschaW on Mon 10th Apr 2017 19:17 UTC
SaschaW
Member since:
2007-07-19

I used to run a BBS on an Amiga 3000T until around 1996. Before I shut it down for good I had 4x ISDN at 64k speeds and 2x 33.6k modem ports. My storage space was 5GB. That was enormous at that time. I also remember using 2 monitors. One attached to a 24bit graphics card the other to the internal graphics.

I still have very found memories of my BBS and the Amiga.

Reply Score: 2

overlap with the web
by gld59 on Tue 11th Apr 2017 05:50 UTC
gld59
Member since:
2012-11-09

There was quite a long crossover period between BBSs and even the web (let alone older internet environments like usenet). In Australia, the growth of commercial ISPs from the late 90s seemed to trigger the end of many BBSs, even before access technologies other than dialup modems became common. Microsoft, for example, shut down their Australian BBS in about 2000, but they had pretty much abandoned it for about a year or so before that - defective modems remained in place, and the only file uploads were done by users who had downloaded them from the web site.

Reply Score: 1

Old times
by Drunkula on Tue 11th Apr 2017 12:54 UTC
Drunkula
Member since:
2009-09-03

I got my feet wet with a Commodore 64 and a 300 baud modem. Those were the good ole (slow) days...

Reply Score: 2

Emulation ?
by Lennie on Fri 14th Apr 2017 19:54 UTC
Lennie
Member since:
2007-09-22

While I think the nostalgia is a great thing, with current computing power you can emulate the hardware in a browser:

https://archive.org/details/PacManDatasoft4amCrack

So why are they using the old hardware ?

I'm not trying to critique, I'm just curious.

My best guess: because you can.

Edited 2017-04-14 19:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2