The golden days of BBSing

The original techno-geeks will relate to this. When 90% of the rest of the population had no clue what going online meant.

I put this .mp4 video together and posted it on Facebook to share among several friends who were knee deep with or like me in the BBS days. Ahhh music to our ears! Those were the days when dial-up connection was the only connection to the online world. You had to have a basic understanding of ASCII, and some rudimentary knowledge of the technical aspects of connecting online… you know, upload/download protocols, parity bits, etc.. You Had to be a bit of a nerd to even successfully get online. Not like nowadays when any dumbass surfs the web.

And in the old days, getting online was like a club, a brotherhood. People got to know each other, share knowledge and info, share files, etc..
Yeah okay, so I tend to reflect on days gone by. I had been surfing the web, mostly out of boredom, and decided to see what was still out there that documents the old electronic BBS days. Maybe there might be some remnants of my own engagement in the only public online social networks of the day…. I came across a list of archive text files of saved screenshots of various BBSs nationwide. One was from a Hawaii board which I had been a member of. Wow! And it mentioned me in threaded discussions! Personally noted was also an entry from “Seductress”, one of my online ‘buddies’…. So it only serves my own interest and nobody else, that’s fine. The same can be said about my site, so it fits.. this was the text file.

Again… the good old days of dial-up modems to dial into BBSs. Unlike today where any noob can fumble their way onto the web with common web browsers, and the web (HTML) format being so simple “even a caveman can do it”, the BBS scene required a little more techie knowledge and was a unique environment. Terminal programs were needed in order to connect to anything online. Programs like Telix, Qmodem, Procomm+, and others were not always the easiest to set up. On the BBS host side, it wasn’t as simple as creating HTML pages in text format and uploading to a web server. Again, BBS specific software to run a board was the name of the game.. Wildcat!, RBBS-PC, Synchronet, Searchlight, GT-Powerboard, and a smorgasboard of others. There was also a sense of “belonging” to a special group of people, from the sysops who ran BBSs to the users who shared somewhat of a special bond. There were over 200 BBSs in the 808 at one time, mine included…. Latte Stone Park BBS.

I got into it so much back then that I decided to try my hand at running my own for a couple of years, until the WWW opened up to the world and its vastness downplayed the BBS scene for many. Then of course I retired from the military, moved to Guam, and decided that the dirty power would fry my equipment if I brought my board up. It was a learning experience to play around with running a BBS, learning what fossil drivers were, trying to be an artist in ANSI screens, setting up and maintaining a proper presence in membership of various echonets like Fidonet, a Hawaii based one called Hawaii Supernet, and others, with netmail and internet email. I ran on a dedicated Gateway2000 P5-90 desktop box on its own separate phone line from the house phone; the DOS based Wildcat! V4 BBS software originally authored by the now defunct Mustang Software and now owned by Santronics. It was an adult themed board hosting CDROMs of files on a Pioneer DRM-1804X 18-disc CD changer plus the CDROM drive on the Gateway box for 19 total online CDs which I swapped out periodically to rotate many CDs online. Doorgames like Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD) and Usurper entertained dial-in users. Plus an even balance of adult related CD-ROMs and files on the harddrive for users interested in that…

That was all old technology for today’s standards, and looking back now, a lot of it seems so rudimentary and downright crude. I mean, imagine not having plug-n-play capability for peripherals and having to find drivers for add-on equipment to the PC which plugged in to, no USB at the time, serial and/or parallel ports, having to wade thru how to make devices work on SCSI/SCSI-II and IDE interfaces. Getting online and having to decide what up/download protocol to use such as Xmodem, Ymodem-G, Zmodem, etc.. Having to configure modems to work properly at 8 bits no parity, 1 stop bit. That’s all greek to today’s noobs no doubt. And I, with the way I am, did not study up to fully understand any of it, but merely tinkered until I got things working.

There’s still a telnet based BBS community out there. I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at it again.. maybe. Anyway, there’s also bbsdocumentary.com.

Wildcat V4.1 with reg key… this is the DOS install.

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