main page, file list, single page HTML, source, report, wiki last updated on 05/28/23


{ I am too young to remember this shit so I'm just writing what I've read on the web. ~drummyfish }

Bulletin board system (BBS) is, or rather used to be, a kind of server that hosts a community of users who connect to it via terminal, who exchange messages, files, play games and otherwise interact -- BBSes were mainly popular before the invention of web, i.e. from about 1978 to mid 1990s, however some still exist today. BBSes are powered by special BBS software and the people who run them are called sysops.

Back then people connected to BBSes via dial-up modems and connecting was much more complicated than connecting to a server today: you had to literally dial the number of the BBS and you could only connect if the BBS had a free line. Early BBSes weren't normally connected through Internet but rather through other networks like UUCP working through phone lines. I.e. a BBS would have a certain number of modems that defined how many people could connect at once. It was also expensive to make calls into other countries so BBSes were more of a local thing, people would connect to their local BBSes. Furthermore these things ran often on non-multitasking systems like DOS so allowing multiple users meant the need for having multiple computers. The boomers who used BBSes talk about great adventure and a sense of intimacy, connecting to a BBS meant the sysop would see you connecting, he might start chatting with you etc. Nowadays the few existing BBSes use protocols such as telnet, nevertheless there are apparently about 20 known dial-up ones in north America. Some BBSes evolved into more modern communities based e.g. on public access Unix systems -- for example SDF.

A BBS was usually focused on a certain topic such as technology, fantasy roleplay, dating, warez etc., they would typically greet the users with a custom themed ANSI art welcome page upon login -- it was pretty cool.

{ There's some documentary on BBS that's upposed to give you an insight into this shit, called literally BBS: The documentary. It's about 5 hours long tho. ~drummyfish }

The first BBS was CBBS (computerized bulletin board system) created by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess in 1978 during a blizzard storm -- it was pretty primitive, e.g. it only allowed one user to be connected at the time. After publication of their invention, BBSes became quite popular and the number of them grew to many thousands -- later there was even a magazine solely focused on BBSes (BBS Magazine). BBSes would later group into larger networks that allowed e.g. interchange of mail. The biggest such network was FidoNet which at its peak hosted about 35000 nodes.

{ Found some list of BBSes at http://www.synchro.net/sbbslist.html. ~drummyfish }

See Also

All content available under CC0 1.0 (public domain). Send comments and corrections to drummyfish at disroot dot org.