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BBS's The original "internet"

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As others have alluded above with their stories, even the BBS days were a state of flux. It's difficult for me to characterize it all as a single era, as the changes seemed monumental, at the time.

 

(1) In my early days, it was 300 baud, 40 columns, and ATASCII, on the Atari8. Boy, this was great!

 

(2) Later it was 1200 baud, 80-columns on the Atari ST, and simple VT52 graphics. Remember how expensive modems were? My first 1200 baud modem was Anchor Volksmodem 520 for the ST. It was a real cheap thing, much like the Vicmodems that plugged into the back of the Commodore 64. This was a great design for cost reduction, but it was still $200 (!!!!!) in 1986. That would be like over $400 today.

 

A couple of years later, 2400 baud modems fell to about that price. Somebody developed BBS and terminal software for the ST that would allow graphics and sound over the BBS. Someone in my town spent a ton of time setting up an elaborate Star Trek: Next Generation theme on a bulletin board. Somebody help me out here - what was this BBS/term software called? It was awesome, but you got tired of waiting for the graphics to load, even at 2400.

 

(3) Last stage (for me) was DOS PC days, when "Wildcat!" BBS software was wildly popular on the PC clones, and 9600 and 14,400 modems became affordable. ANSI color graphics were pretty cool. Boards in town would call each other in the middle of the night and "network" a couple of message bases between them. I was living in Anchorage in those days, and it was "Anchorage-NET" or something. It was pretty impressive for the time, although laughable now.

 

Each of those eras were distinctly different for me, and I can't think of BBS days as an entire, homogenous era.

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I wasn't around to dial any BBSes before the DOS era, so all I ever got was ANSI. I never had a color display before our family got internet access, though. I remember dialing up a couple of larger BBS systems once or twice, but mostly all I was able to do was dial up the BBS ran by the local library, which consisted of a searchable card catalog and a way to reserve books for later pickup.

 

On a somewhat related note, I signed up for ssh access to sdf.org a while back, and I've been very tempted since then to also try signing up for their dial-up access service (they have a surprising amount of local numbers available) so I can use one of my old computers to access the internet through Lynx or Links as if it were an extremely large BBS.

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(2) Later it was 1200 baud, 80-columns on the Atari ST, and simple VT52 graphics. Remember how expensive modems were? My first 1200 baud modem was Anchor Volksmodem 520 for the ST. It was a real cheap thing, much like the Vicmodems that plugged into the back of the Commodore 64. This was a great design for cost reduction, but it was still $200 (!!!!!) in 1986. That would be like over $400 today.

 

A couple of years later, 2400 baud modems fell to about that price.

 

I paid $700+ for my US Robotics HST 14.4 modem in 1989...

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On a somewhat related note, I signed up for ssh access to sdf.org a while back, and I've been very tempted since then to also try signing up for their dial-up access service (they have a surprising amount of local numbers available) so I can use one of my old computers to access the internet through Lynx or Links as if it were an extremely large BBS.

 

I've kinda looked into this. Please let me know what you think of this service when you try it.

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Ahhh yes, I loved going "online" with my Coco 2/3 back in those days. Most of the local BBS's were C64 based but there were a couple of Coco based boards where I got lots of games and other software. My favorite was called "Route 66". Man, I loved those days.

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I paid $700+ for my US Robotics HST 14.4 modem in 1989...

 

Yeah, I remember that era. At least the "baud for the buck" ratio was a hell of a lot better than 300/1200/2400 in the classic era. Since there were battling protocols back then, the US Robotics HST "Dual Standard" were particularly expensive.

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Original internet is Compunet in the UK for Commodore 64 computers.

 

Why?

 

You could view/download....

Music

Video

Demos

Games

Pictures.

 

You could chat to people.....

All at once in a public chatroom

Invite people into your private chatroom

One to one in private just like MSN

 

You could send and receive....

"emails"

files

 

So there you have it, Compunet did everything the HTTP based internet of today does, amazing eh?

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Original internet is Compunet in the UK for Commodore 64 computers.

 

Why?

 

You could view/download....

Music

Video

Demos

Games

Pictures.

 

You could chat to people.....

All at once in a public chatroom

Invite people into your private chatroom

One to one in private just like MSN

 

You could send and receive....

"emails"

files

 

So there you have it, Compunet did everything the HTTP based internet of today does, amazing eh?

 

Umm...you're talking about the Web. The Web runs on the Internet, it is not the Internet. The Internet is not HTTP based, and it (and it's Arpanet predescessor) did everything you mention long before Compunet. Email, TFTP/FTP, chat, etc. existed long before.

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At 1993 was a epic achievement to download a 240K file with X-Modem over a 2400 baud modem, praying for line not to fail. And only to discover that the file description was wrong :)

My best memories are of course the colorful ANSI graphics, very ingenious for the time.

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I remember those days well. I picked up a VICmodem from COMB Liquidators for $20. It was terrible, but got me in the game. Around 1989, we upgraded to a Commodore 1670 (1200 bps!). I called a lot of Color 64 BBSs. Then around 1990, I think, DesTerm for the 128 came out with ANSI support, so I could call PC BBSs and get a roughly equivalent experience on those. Downloading new versions of DesTerm at 1200 bps took forever.

 

In either 1991 or 1992 I got a used Motorola Codex v.32-only modem, so it was limited to 4800 and 9600 bps, but I got it for $175 so it was still a nice deal. A fully capable modem of that speed would have cost about twice that. So I got that and a cheap $40 2400 bps modem for when I needed to step down to 1200 or 2400.

 

I forget when I stopped calling BBSs, but it was probably 1995 or 1996. I was certainly on the web in 1994, but in its early days, there were still things you could do on BBSs that you couldn't on the web, though the reverse was also true.

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The vast majority of people today don't even know what a BBS is. If I ever mention it around my wife's teenage step kids, I just get blank stares. They have no clue how awesome that scene was.

 

I used to hit SO MANY BBS's back then with my C64 and my BBS life REALLY exploded when I got my first PC. There must have been a hundred BBS's in my local area by that point.

Edited by Blacklight

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I was part of the BBS scene in Twin Cities (Minnesota) back in the early/mid 1980s. Mostly the Citadel based systems. I even ran one for a couple of years until I went off to college in '87.

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One of my managers at a previous job ran a fairly big BBS back in the day. Had many phone lines and a huge SCSI hard drive pulled from telco surplus. Was so big the Adaptec SCSI controller BIOs *barely* supported it. I can't imagine the electricity bill much less then phone lines..

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I was part of the BBS scene in Twin Cities (Minnesota) back in the early/mid 1980s. Mostly the Citadel based systems. I even ran one for a couple of years until I went off to college in '87.

 

As was I! What a wacky scene that was.

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As was I! What a wacky scene that was.

 

Wild. I went by Joshua York. The Citadel I ran was called The Delta. You?

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Wild. I went by Joshua York. The Citadel I ran was called The Delta. You?

 

Sir Exodus, then Dark Thief. Yeah I started as a 13 year old punk-ass kid in '89 .

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