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Around the World in 385 BBSs




So it's 2017 and contrary to popular belief, computer bulletin boards still exist.

Computer Bulletin Board Systems? Something I've done since 1983, inspired by the movie Wargames with Matthew Broderick that came out during that same year.

So what is a bulletin board system (BBS)? Think Facebook or some social media place. Now if you were talking about during the dial-up era in the 70s, 80s, and 90s that would have been a computer that people in the same dialing area would have called and left messages for other people in the same city or dialing area. Some of the BBSs were all about leaving messages for other people, others were all about the online games, and another group was all about trading files.

In a time before the internet went public, this was how people got their name out there. Libraries, Cities, Governments, Companies very possibly had a BBS. Need to get online support from a company for software? You called a BBS. And along with all this was many yahoos with a computer setting it up for others to enjoy.

The internet came along and the form of the BBS changed. Our global community got smaller and the BBS changed mostly from the dial-up method to telnet, SSH, and other more secure methods.

So it boils down to this: we used to have hundreds of BBSs in a city or dialing area decades ago, and now you are looking at one per area. But then the idea of a area went away with the dial-up era. So what you have as I write this is 385 BBSs all over the world, mostly available over telnet.

Since you probably wouldn't have called out of your dialing area due to long distance charges the feeling is a lot the same. You have an overwhelming amount of BBSs to call.

So to help you out, I'll try to call about a BBS or two a day for a year and tell you which ones are happening, and which ones are ghost towns. Been meaning to do this for a few years, time to make this happen.

My own personal goal is to find a BBS with a strong message base. And the holy grail for me will be a BBS with a continuing story board. Those used to be very popular in the 80s.

Tune in for more BBS trotting!


Recommended Comments

BBSs were also big for file sharing, especially in the 90s.


I played around on BBSs quite a bit. In the 80s the BBSs were mostly single user. While you were connected other callers got busy signals. Mostly text based message boards - lowest common denominator as this was the time of 8 bit home computers.


In the 90s I remember big multi-user BBSs. Lots of phone numbers to handle the different modem flavors. The BBSs were often interconnected with others (e.g. FidoNet). Some had lots of files with new ones evry day - this was the time of shareware and the PC dominated (although I'm sure there were Amiga and ST specific BBSs).


There were also the big guys - CompuServe, Genie, Delphi, AOL.

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