Bulletin board system

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Not to be confused with Internet forum software. Bulletin board system_sentence_0

A bulletin board system or BBS (also called Computer Bulletin Board Service, CBBS) is a computer server running software that allows users to connect to the system using a terminal program. Bulletin board system_sentence_1

Once logged in, the user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users through public message boards and sometimes via direct chatting. Bulletin board system_sentence_2

In the early 1980s, message networks such as FidoNet sprang up to provide services such as NetMail, which is similar to email. Bulletin board system_sentence_3

Many BBSes also offer online games in which users can compete with each other. Bulletin board system_sentence_4

BBSes with multiple phone lines often provide chat rooms, allowing users to interact with each other. Bulletin board system_sentence_5

Bulletin board systems were in many ways a precursor to the modern form of the World Wide Web, social networks, and other aspects of the Internet. Bulletin board system_sentence_6

Low-cost, high-performance modems drove the use of online services and BBSes through the early 1990s. Bulletin board system_sentence_7

InfoWorld estimated that there were 60,000 BBSes serving 17 million users in the United States alone in 1994, a collective market much larger than major online services such as CompuServe. Bulletin board system_sentence_8

The introduction of inexpensive dial-up internet service and the Mosaic web browser offered ease of use and global access that BBS and online systems did not provide, and led to a rapid crash in the market starting in 1994. Bulletin board system_sentence_9

Over the next year, many of the leading BBS software providers went bankrupt and tens of thousands of BBSes disappeared. Bulletin board system_sentence_10

Today, BBSing survives largely as a nostalgic hobby in most parts of the world, but it is still an extremely popular form of communication for Taiwanese youth (see PTT Bulletin Board System). Bulletin board system_sentence_11

Most surviving BBSes are accessible over Telnet and typically offer free email accounts, FTP services, IRC and all the protocols commonly used on the Internet. Bulletin board system_sentence_12

Some offer access through packet switched networks or packet radio connections. Bulletin board system_sentence_13

History Bulletin board system_section_0

Precursors Bulletin board system_section_1

A precursor to the public bulletin board system was Community Memory, started in August 1973 in Berkeley, California. Bulletin board system_sentence_14

Useful microcomputers did not exist at that time, and modems were both expensive and slow. Bulletin board system_sentence_15

Community Memory therefore ran on a mainframe computer and was accessed through terminals located in several San Francisco Bay Area neighborhoods. Bulletin board system_sentence_16

The poor quality of the original modem connecting the terminals to the mainframe prompted Community Memory hardware person, Lee Felsenstein, to invent the Pennywhistle modem, whose design was highly influential in the mid-1970s. Bulletin board system_sentence_17

Community Memory allowed the user to type messages into a computer terminal after inserting a coin, and offered a "pure" bulletin board experience with public messages only (no email or other features). Bulletin board system_sentence_18

It did offer the ability to tag messages with keywords, which the user could use in searches. Bulletin board system_sentence_19

The system acted primarily in the form of a buy and sell system with the tags taking the place of the more traditional classifications. Bulletin board system_sentence_20

But users found ways to express themselves outside these bounds, and the system spontaneously created stories, poetry and other forms of communications. Bulletin board system_sentence_21

The system was expensive to operate, and when their host machine became unavailable and a new one could not be found, the system closed in January 1975. Bulletin board system_sentence_22

Similar functionality was available to most mainframe users, which might be considered a sort of ultra-local BBS when used in this fashion. Bulletin board system_sentence_23

Commercial systems, expressly intended to offer these features to the public, became available in the late 1970s and formed the online service market that lasted into the 1990s. Bulletin board system_sentence_24

One particularly influential example was PLATO, which had thousands of users by the late 1970s, many of whom used the messaging and chat room features of the system in the same way that would become common on BBSes. Bulletin board system_sentence_25

The first BBSes Bulletin board system_section_2

Early modems were generally very simple devices using acoustic couplers to handle telephone operation. Bulletin board system_sentence_26

The user would first pick up the phone, dial a number, then press the handset into rubber cups on the top of the modem. Bulletin board system_sentence_27

Disconnecting at the end of a call required the user to pick up the handset and return it to the phone. Bulletin board system_sentence_28

Examples of direct-connecting modems did exist, and these often allowed the host computer to send it commands to answer or hang up calls, but these were very expensive devices used by large banks and similar companies. Bulletin board system_sentence_29

With the introduction of microcomputers with expansion slots, like the S-100 bus machines and Apple II, it became possible for the modem to communicate instructions and data on separate lines. Bulletin board system_sentence_30

A number of modems of this sort were available by the late 1970s. Bulletin board system_sentence_31

This made the BBS possible for the first time, as it allowed software on the computer to pick up an incoming call, communicate with the user, and then hang up the call when the user logged off. Bulletin board system_sentence_32

The first public dial-up BBS was developed by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess. Bulletin board system_sentence_33

According to an early interview, when Chicago was snowed under during the Great Blizzard of 1978, the two began preliminary work on the Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS. Bulletin board system_sentence_34

The system came into existence largely through a fortuitous combination of Christensen having a spare S-100 bus computer and an early Hayes internal modem, and Suess's insistence that the machine be placed at his house in Chicago where it would be a local phone call to millions of users. Bulletin board system_sentence_35

Christensen patterned the system after the cork board his local computer club used to post information like "need a ride". Bulletin board system_sentence_36

CBBS officially went online on 16 February 1978. Bulletin board system_sentence_37

CBBS, which kept a count of callers, reportedly connected 253,301 callers before it was finally retired. Bulletin board system_sentence_38

Smartmodem Bulletin board system_section_3

A key innovation required for the popularization of the BBS was the Smartmodem manufactured by Hayes Microcomputer Products. Bulletin board system_sentence_39

Internal modems like the ones used by CBBS and similar early systems were usable, but generally expensive due to the manufacturer having to make a different modem for every computer platform they wanted to target. Bulletin board system_sentence_40

They were also limited to those computers with internal expansion, and could not be used with other useful platforms like video terminals. Bulletin board system_sentence_41

External modems were available for these platforms but required the phone to be dialed using a conventional handset, making them unable to accept incoming calls without manual intervention. Bulletin board system_sentence_42

Internal modems could be software controlled to perform both outbound and inbound calls, but external modems had only the data pins to communicate with the host system. Bulletin board system_sentence_43

Hayes' solution to the problem was to use a small microcontroller to implement a system that examined the data flowing into the modem from the host computer, watching for certain command strings. Bulletin board system_sentence_44

This allowed commands to be sent to and from the modem using the same data pins as all the rest of the data, meaning it would work on any system that could support even the most basic modems. Bulletin board system_sentence_45

The Smartmodem could pick up the phone, dial numbers, and hang up again, all without any operator intervention. Bulletin board system_sentence_46

The Smartmodem was not necessary for BBS use but made overall operation dramatically simpler. Bulletin board system_sentence_47

It also improved usability for the caller, as most terminal software allowed different phone numbers to be stored and dialed on command, allowing the user to easily connect to a series of systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_48

The introduction of the Smartmodem led to the first real wave of BBS systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_49

Limited in both speed and storage capacity, these systems were normally dedicated solely to messaging, both private email and public forums. Bulletin board system_sentence_50

File transfers were painfully slow at these speeds, and file libraries were typically limited to text files containing lists of other BBS systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_51

These systems attracted a particular type of user who used the BBS as a unique type of communications medium, and when these local systems were crowded from the market in the 1990s, their loss was lamented for many years. Bulletin board system_sentence_52

Higher speeds, commercialization Bulletin board system_section_4

Speed improved with the introduction of 1200 bit/s modems in the early 1980s, giving way to 2400 bit/s fairly rapidly. Bulletin board system_sentence_53

The improved performance led to a substantial increase in BBS popularity. Bulletin board system_sentence_54

Most of the information was displayed using ordinary ASCII text or ANSI art, but a number of systems attempted character-based graphical user interfaces which began to be practical at 2400 bit/s. Bulletin board system_sentence_55

There was a lengthy delay before 9600 bit/s models began to appear on the market. Bulletin board system_sentence_56

9600 bit/s was not even established as a strong standard before V.32bis at 14.4 kbit/s took over in the early 1990s. Bulletin board system_sentence_57

This period also saw the rapid rise in capacity and a dramatic drop in the price of hard drives. Bulletin board system_sentence_58

By the late 1980s, many BBS systems had significant file libraries, and this gave rise to leeching, users calling BBSes solely for their files. Bulletin board system_sentence_59

These users would tie up the modem for some time, leaving less time for other users, who got busy signals. Bulletin board system_sentence_60

The resulting upheaval eliminated many of the pioneering message-centric systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_61

This also gave rise to a new class of BBS systems, dedicated solely to file upload and downloads. Bulletin board system_sentence_62

These systems charged for access, typically a flat monthly fee, compared to the per-hour fees charged by Event Horizons BBS and most online services. Bulletin board system_sentence_63

A host of 3rd party services sprang up to support these systems, offering simple credit card merchant account gateways for the payment of monthly fees, and entire file libraries on compact disk that made initial setup very easy. Bulletin board system_sentence_64

Early 1990s editions of Boardwatch were filled with ads for single-click install solutions dedicated to these new sysops. Bulletin board system_sentence_65

While this gave the market a bad reputation, it also led to its greatest success. Bulletin board system_sentence_66

During the early 1990s, there were a number of mid-sized software companies dedicated to BBS software, and the number of BBSes in service reached its peak. Bulletin board system_sentence_67

Towards the early 1990s, the BBS industry became so popular that it spawned three monthly magazines, Boardwatch, BBS Magazine, and in Asia and Australia, Chips 'n Bits Magazine which devoted extensive coverage of the software and technology innovations and people behind them, and listings to US and worldwide BBSes. Bulletin board system_sentence_68

In addition, in the US, a major monthly magazine, Computer Shopper, carried a list of BBSes along with a brief abstract of each of their offerings. Bulletin board system_sentence_69

GUIs Bulletin board system_section_5

Through the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was considerable experimentation with ways to improve the BBS experience from its command-line interface roots. Bulletin board system_sentence_70

Almost every popular system improved matters somewhat by adding ANSI-based color menus to make reading easier, and most also allowed cursor commands to offer command-line recall and similar features. Bulletin board system_sentence_71

Another common feature was the use of autocomplete to make menu navigation simpler, a feature that would not re-appear on the web until decades later. Bulletin board system_sentence_72

A number of systems also made forays into GUI-based interfaces, either using character graphics sent from the host, or using custom GUI-based terminal systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_73

The latter initially appeared, unsurprisingly, on the Macintosh platform, where TeleFinder and FirstClass became very popular. Bulletin board system_sentence_74

FirstClass offered a host of features that would be difficult or impossible under a terminal-based solution, including bi-directional information flow and non-blocking operation that allowed the user to exchange files in both directions while continuing to use the message system and chat, all in separate windows. Bulletin board system_sentence_75

Skypix featured on Amiga a complete markup language. Bulletin board system_sentence_76

It used a standardized set of icons to indicate mouse driven commands available online and to recognize different filetypes present on BBS storage media. Bulletin board system_sentence_77

It was capable to transmit data like images, audio files, and audio clips between users linked to same BBS or off-line if BBS was in the circuit of FidoNet organization. Bulletin board system_sentence_78

On the PC, efforts were more oriented to extensions of the original terminal concept, with the GUI being described in the information on the host. Bulletin board system_sentence_79

One example was the Remote Imaging Protocol, essentially a picture description system, which remained relatively obscure. Bulletin board system_sentence_80

Probably the ultimate development of this style of operation was the dynamic page implementation of the University of Southern California BBS (USCBBS) by Susan Biddlecomb, which predated the implementation of the HTML Dynamic web page. Bulletin board system_sentence_81

A complete Dynamic web page implementation was accomplished using TBBS with a TDBS add-on presenting a complete menu system individually customized for each user. Bulletin board system_sentence_82

Rise of the Internet and decline of BBS Bulletin board system_section_6

The demand for complex ANSI and ASCII screens and larger file transfers taxed available channel capacity, which in turn propelled demand for faster modems. Bulletin board system_sentence_83

14.4 kbit/s modems were standard for a number of years while various companies attempted to introduce non-standard systems with higher performance, normally about 19.2 kbit/s. Bulletin board system_sentence_84

Another delay followed due to a long V.34 standards process before 28.8 kbit/s was released, only to be quickly replaced by 33.6 kbit/s, and then 56 kbit/s. Bulletin board system_sentence_85

These increasing speeds had the side effect of dramatically reducing the noticeable effects of channel efficiency. Bulletin board system_sentence_86

When modems were slow, considerable effort was put into developing the most efficient protocols and display systems possible. Bulletin board system_sentence_87

Running a general-purpose protocol like TCP/IP over a 1200 bit/s modem was a painful experience. Bulletin board system_sentence_88

With 56 kbit/s modems, however, the overhead was so greatly reduced as to be unnoticeable. Bulletin board system_sentence_89

Dial-up Internet service became widely available in 1994, and a must-have option for any general-use operating system by 1995. Bulletin board system_sentence_90

These developments together resulted in the sudden obsolescence of bulletin board technology in 1995 and the collapse of its supporting market. Bulletin board system_sentence_91

Technically, Internet service offered an enormous advantage over BBS systems, as a single connection to the user's Internet service provider allowed them to contact services around the world. Bulletin board system_sentence_92

In comparison, BBS systems relied on a direct point-to-point connection, so even dialing multiple local systems required multiple phone calls. Bulletin board system_sentence_93

Moreover, Internet protocols allowed that same single connection to be used to contact multiple services at the same time, say download files from an FTP library while checking the weather on a local news web site. Bulletin board system_sentence_94

In comparison, a connection to a BBS allowed access only to the information on that system. Bulletin board system_sentence_95

Estimating numbers Bulletin board system_section_7

According to the FidoNet Nodelist, BBSes reached their peak usage around 1996, which was the same period that the World Wide Web and AOL became mainstream. Bulletin board system_sentence_96

BBSes rapidly declined in popularity thereafter, and were replaced by systems using the Internet for connectivity. Bulletin board system_sentence_97

Some of the larger commercial BBSes, such as MaxMegabyte and ExecPC BBS, evolved into Internet service providers. Bulletin board system_sentence_98

The website serves as an archive that documents the history of the BBS. Bulletin board system_sentence_99

The on textfiles.com contains over 105,000 BBSes that have existed over a span of 20 years in North America alone. Bulletin board system_sentence_100

The owner of textfiles.com, Jason Scott, also produced BBS: The Documentary, a DVD film that chronicles the history of the BBS and features interviews with well-known people (mostly from the United States) from the heyday BBS era. Bulletin board system_sentence_101

In the 2000s, most traditional BBS systems migrated to the Internet using Telnet or SSH protocols. Bulletin board system_sentence_102

Between 700 and 800 are thought to be active in 2020, fewer than 30 of these being of the traditional "dial-up" (modem) variety. Bulletin board system_sentence_103

Software and hardware Bulletin board system_section_8

Unlike modern websites and online services that are typically hosted by third-party companies in commercial data centers, BBS computers (especially for smaller boards) were typically operated from the SysOp's home. Bulletin board system_sentence_104

As such, access could be unreliable, and in many cases, only one user could be on the system at a time. Bulletin board system_sentence_105

Only larger BBSes with multiple phone lines using specialized hardware, multitasking software, or a LAN connecting multiple computers, could host multiple simultaneous users. Bulletin board system_sentence_106

The first BBSes used homebrew software, quite often written or customized by the SysOps themselves, running on early S-100 bus microcomputer systems such as the Altair 8800, IMSAI 8080 and Cromemco under the CP/M operating system. Bulletin board system_sentence_107

Soon after, BBS software was being written for all of the major home computer systems of the late 1970s era – the Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, Commodore and TRS-80 being some of the most popular. Bulletin board system_sentence_108

A few years later, in 1981, IBM introduced the first DOS based IBM PC, and due to the overwhelming popularity of PCs and their clones, DOS soon became the operating system on which the majority of BBS programs were run. Bulletin board system_sentence_109

RBBS-PC, ported over from the CP/M world, and Fido BBS, created by Tom Jennings (who later founded FidoNet) were the first notable DOS BBS programs. Bulletin board system_sentence_110

Many successful commercial BBS programs were developed for DOS, such as PCBoard BBS, RemoteAccess BBS, and Wildcat! Bulletin board system_sentence_111 BBS. Bulletin board system_sentence_112

Some popular freeware BBS programs for DOS included Telegard BBS and Renegade BBS, which both had early origins from leaked WWIV BBS source code. Bulletin board system_sentence_113

There were several dozen other BBS programs developed over the DOS era, and many were released under the shareware concept, while some were released as freeware including iniquity. Bulletin board system_sentence_114

BBS systems on other systems remained popular, especially home computers, largely because they catered to the audience of users running those machines. Bulletin board system_sentence_115

The ubiquitous Commodore 64 (introduced in 1982) was a common platform in the 1980s. Bulletin board system_sentence_116

Popular commercial BBS programs were Blue Board, Ivory BBS, Color64 and CNet 64. Bulletin board system_sentence_117

In the early 1990s, a small number of BBSes were also running on the Commodore Amiga. Bulletin board system_sentence_118

Popular BBS software for the Amiga were ABBS, Amiexpress, C-Net, StormforceBBS, Infinity and Tempest. Bulletin board system_sentence_119

There was also a small faction of devoted Atari BBSes that used the Atari 800, then the 800XL, and eventually the 1040ST. Bulletin board system_sentence_120

The earlier machines generally lacked hard drive capabilities, which limited them primarily to messaging. Bulletin board system_sentence_121

MS-DOS continued to be the most popular operating system for BBS use up until the mid-1990s, and in the early years, most multi-node BBSes were running under a DOS based multitasker such as DESQview or consisted of multiple computers connected via a LAN. Bulletin board system_sentence_122

In the late 1980s, a handful of BBS developers implemented multitasking communications routines inside their software, allowing multiple phone lines and users to connect to the same BBS computer. Bulletin board system_sentence_123

These included Galacticomm's MajorBBS (later WorldGroup), eSoft The Bread Board System (TBBS), and Falken. Bulletin board system_sentence_124

Other popular BBS's were Maximus and Opus, with some associated applications such as BinkleyTerm being based on characters from the Berkley Breathed cartoon strip of Bloom County. Bulletin board system_sentence_125

Though most BBS software had been written in BASIC or Pascal (with some low-level routines written in assembly language), the C language was starting to gain popularity. Bulletin board system_sentence_126

By 1995, many of the DOS-based BBSes had begun switching to modern multitasking operating systems, such as OS/2, Windows 95, and Linux. Bulletin board system_sentence_127

One of the first graphics based BBS applications was Excalibur BBS with a low bandwidth applications that required its own client for efficiency. Bulletin board system_sentence_128

This led to one of the earliest implementations of Electronic Commerce in 1996 with replication of partner stores around the globe. Bulletin board system_sentence_129

TCP/IP networking allowed most of the remaining BBSes to evolve and include Internet hosting capabilities. Bulletin board system_sentence_130

Recent BBS software, such as Synchronet, Mystic BBS, EleBBS, DOC or Wildcat! Bulletin board system_sentence_131 BBS, provide access using the Telnet protocol rather than dialup, or by using legacy DOS-based BBS software with a FOSSIL-to-Telnet redirector such as NetFoss. Bulletin board system_sentence_132

Presentation Bulletin board system_section_9

BBSes were generally text-based, rather than GUI-based, and early BBSes conversed using the simple ASCII character set. Bulletin board system_sentence_133

However, some home computer manufacturers extended the ASCII character set to take advantage of the advanced color and graphics capabilities of their systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_134

BBS software authors included these extended character sets in their software, and terminal program authors included the ability to display them when a compatible system was called. Bulletin board system_sentence_135

Atari's native character set was known as ATASCII, while most Commodore BBSes supported PETSCII. Bulletin board system_sentence_136

PETSCII was also supported by the nationwide online service Quantum Link. Bulletin board system_sentence_137

The use of these custom character sets was generally incompatible between manufacturers. Bulletin board system_sentence_138

Unless a caller was using terminal emulation software written for, and running on, the same type of system as the BBS, the session would simply fall back to simple ASCII output. Bulletin board system_sentence_139

For example, a Commodore 64 user calling an Atari BBS would use ASCII rather than the machine's native character set. Bulletin board system_sentence_140

As time progressed, most terminal programs began using the ANSI standard, but could use their native character set if it was available. Bulletin board system_sentence_141

COCONET, a BBS system made by Coconut Computing, Inc., was released in 1988 and only supported a GUI (no text interface was initially available but eventually became available around 1990), and worked in EGA/VGA graphics mode, which made it stand out from the text-based BBS systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_142

COCONET's bitmap and vector graphics and support for multiple type fonts were inspired by the PLATO system, and the graphics capabilities were based on what was available in the Borland BGI graphics library. Bulletin board system_sentence_143

A competing approach called Remote Imaging Protocol (RIP) emerged and was promoted by Telegrafix in the early to mid-1990s but it never became widespread. Bulletin board system_sentence_144

An industry standard technology called NAPLPS was also considered, and although it became the underlying graphics technology behind the Prodigy service, it never gained popularity in the BBS market. Bulletin board system_sentence_145

There were several GUI-based BBSes on the Apple Macintosh platform, including TeleFinder and FirstClass, but these remained widely used only in the Mac market. Bulletin board system_sentence_146

In the UK, the BBC Micro based OBBS software, available from Pace for use with their modems, optionally allowed for color and graphics using the Teletext based graphics mode available on that platform. Bulletin board system_sentence_147

Other systems used the Viewdata protocols made popular in the UK by British Telecom's Prestel service, and the on-line magazine Micronet 800 whom were busy giving away modems with their subscriptions. Bulletin board system_sentence_148

The most popular form of online graphics was ANSI art, which combined the IBM Extended ASCII character set's blocks and symbols with ANSI escape sequences to allow changing colors on demand, provide cursor control and screen formatting, and even basic musical tones. Bulletin board system_sentence_149

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, most BBSes used ANSI to make elaborate welcome screens, and colorized menus, and thus, ANSI support was a sought-after feature in terminal client programs. Bulletin board system_sentence_150

The development of ANSI art became so popular that it spawned an entire BBS "artscene" subculture devoted to it. Bulletin board system_sentence_151

The Amiga Skyline BBS software was the first in 1987 featuring a script markup language communication protocol called Skypix which was capable of giving the user a complete graphical interface, featuring rich graphic content, changeable fonts, mouse-controlled actions, animations and sound. Bulletin board system_sentence_152

Today, most BBS software that is still actively supported, such as Worldgroup, Wildcat! Bulletin board system_sentence_153 BBS and Citadel/UX, is Web-enabled, and the traditional text interface has been replaced (or operates concurrently) with a Web-based user interface. Bulletin board system_sentence_154

For those more nostalgic for the true BBS experience, one can use NetSerial (Windows) or DOSBox (Windows/*nix) to redirect DOS COM port software to telnet, allowing them to connect to Telnet BBSes using 1980s and 1990s era modem terminal emulation software, like Telix, Terminate, Qmodem and Procomm Plus. Bulletin board system_sentence_155

Modern 32-bit terminal emulators such as mTelnet and SyncTerm include native telnet support. Bulletin board system_sentence_156

Content and access Bulletin board system_section_10

Since most early BBSes were run by computer hobbyists, they were typically technical in topic, with user communities revolving around hardware and software discussions. Bulletin board system_sentence_157

As the BBS phenomenon grew, so did the popularity of special interest boards. Bulletin board system_sentence_158

Bulletin Board Systems could be found for almost every hobby and interest. Bulletin board system_sentence_159

Popular interests included politics, religion, music, dating, and alternative lifestyles. Bulletin board system_sentence_160

Many SysOps also adopted a theme in which they customized their entire BBS (welcome screens, prompts, menus, and so on) to reflect that theme. Bulletin board system_sentence_161

Common themes were based on fantasy, or were intended to give the user the illusion of being somewhere else, such as in a sanatorium, wizard's castle, or on a pirate ship. Bulletin board system_sentence_162

In the early days, the file download library consisted of files that the SysOps obtained themselves from other BBSes and friends. Bulletin board system_sentence_163

Many BBSes inspected every file uploaded to their public file download library to ensure that the material did not violate copyright law. Bulletin board system_sentence_164

As time went on, shareware CD-ROMs were sold with up to thousands of files on each CD-ROM. Bulletin board system_sentence_165

Small BBSes copied each file individually to their hard drive. Bulletin board system_sentence_166

Some systems used a CD-ROM drive to make the files available. Bulletin board system_sentence_167

Advanced BBSes used Multiple CD-ROM disc changer units that switched 6 CD-ROM disks on demand for the caller(s). Bulletin board system_sentence_168

Large systems used all 26 DOS drive letters with multi-disk changers housing tens of thousands of copyright-free shareware or freeware files available to all callers. Bulletin board system_sentence_169

These BBSes were generally more family friendly, avoiding the seedier side of BBSes. Bulletin board system_sentence_170

Access to these systems varied from single to multiple modem lines with some requiring little or no confirmed registration. Bulletin board system_sentence_171

Some BBSes, called elite, WaReZ or pirate boards, were exclusively used for distributing cracked software, phreaking, and other questionable or unlawful content. Bulletin board system_sentence_172

These BBSes often had multiple modems and phone lines, allowing several users to upload and download files at once. Bulletin board system_sentence_173

Most elite BBSes used some form of new user verification, where new users would have to apply for membership and attempt to prove that they were not a law enforcement officer or a lamer. Bulletin board system_sentence_174

The largest elite boards accepted users by invitation only. Bulletin board system_sentence_175

Elite boards also spawned their own subculture and gave rise to the slang known today as leetspeak. Bulletin board system_sentence_176

Another common type of board was the support BBS run by a manufacturer of computer products or software. Bulletin board system_sentence_177

These boards were dedicated to supporting users of the company's products with question and answer forums, news and updates, and downloads. Bulletin board system_sentence_178

Most of them were not a free call. Bulletin board system_sentence_179

Today, these services have moved to the web. Bulletin board system_sentence_180

Some general purpose Bulletin Board Systems had special levels of access that were given to those who paid extra money, uploaded useful files or knew the SysOp personally. Bulletin board system_sentence_181

These specialty and pay BBSes usually had something unique to offer their users, such as large file libraries, warez, pornography, chat rooms or Internet access. Bulletin board system_sentence_182

Pay BBSes such as The WELL and Echo NYC (now Internet forums rather than dial-up), ExecPC, PsudNetwork and MindVox (which folded in 1996) were admired for their tight-knit communities and quality discussion forums. Bulletin board system_sentence_183

However, many free BBSes also maintained close knit communities, and some even had annual or bi-annual events where users would travel great distances to meet face-to-face with their on-line friends. Bulletin board system_sentence_184

These events were especially popular with BBSes that offered chat rooms. Bulletin board system_sentence_185

Some of the BBSes that provided access to illegal content faced opposition. Bulletin board system_sentence_186

On July 12, 1985, in conjunction with a credit card fraud investigation, the Middlesex County, New Jersey Sheriff's department raided and seized The Private Sector BBS, which was the official BBS for grey hat hacker quarterly 2600 Magazine at the time. Bulletin board system_sentence_187

The notorious Rusty n Edie's BBS, in Boardman, Ohio, was raided by the FBI in January 1993 for trading unlicensed software, and later sued by Playboy for copyright infringement in November 1997. Bulletin board system_sentence_188

In Flint, Michigan, a 21-year-old man was charged with distributing child pornography through his BBS in March 1996. Bulletin board system_sentence_189

Networks Bulletin board system_section_11

Most early BBSes operated as individual systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_190

Information contained on that BBS never left the system, and users would only interact with the information and user community on that BBS alone. Bulletin board system_sentence_191

However, as BBSes became more widespread, there evolved a desire to connect systems together to share messages and files with distant systems and users. Bulletin board system_sentence_192

The largest such network was FidoNet. Bulletin board system_sentence_193

As is it was prohibitively expensive for the hobbyist SysOp to have a dedicated connection to another system, FidoNet was developed as a store and forward network. Bulletin board system_sentence_194

Private email (Netmail), public message boards (Echomail) and eventually even file attachments on a FidoNet-capable BBS would be bundled into one or more archive files over a set time interval. Bulletin board system_sentence_195

These archive files were then compressed with or and forwarded to (or polled by) another nearby node or hub via a dialup Xmodem session. Bulletin board system_sentence_196

Messages would be relayed around various FidoNet hubs until they were eventually delivered to their destination. Bulletin board system_sentence_197

The hierarchy of FidoNet BBS nodes, hubs, and zones was maintained in a routing table called a Nodelist. Bulletin board system_sentence_198

Some larger BBSes or regional FidoNet hubs would make several transfers per day, some even to multiple nodes or hubs, and as such, transfers usually occurred at night or early morning when toll rates were lowest. Bulletin board system_sentence_199

In Fido's heyday, sending a Netmail message to a user on a distant FidoNet node, or participating in an Echomail discussion could take days, especially if any FidoNet nodes or hubs in the message's route only made one transfer call per day. Bulletin board system_sentence_200

FidoNet was platform-independent and would work with any BBS that was written to use it. Bulletin board system_sentence_201

BBSes that did not have integrated FidoNet capability could usually add it using an external FidoNet front-end mailer such as SEAdog, FrontDoor, BinkleyTerm, InterMail or D'Bridge, and a mail processor such as FastEcho or Squish. Bulletin board system_sentence_202

The front-end mailer would conduct the periodic FidoNet transfers, while the mail processor would usually run just before and just after the mailer ran. Bulletin board system_sentence_203

This program would scan for and pack up new outgoing messages, and then unpack, sort and "toss" the incoming messages into a BBS user's local email box or into the BBS's local message bases reserved for Echomail. Bulletin board system_sentence_204

As such, these mail processors were commonly called "scanner/tosser/packers." Bulletin board system_sentence_205

Many other BBS networks followed the example of FidoNet, using the same standards and the same software. Bulletin board system_sentence_206

These were called FidoNet Technology Networks (FTNs). Bulletin board system_sentence_207

They were usually smaller and targeted at selected audiences. Bulletin board system_sentence_208

Some networks used doors, and others such as RelayNet (RIME) and WWIVnet used non-Fido software and standards. Bulletin board system_sentence_209

Before commercial Internet access became common, these networks of BBSes provided regional and international e-mail and message bases. Bulletin board system_sentence_210

Some even provided gateways, such as UFGATE, by which members could send/receive e-mail to/from the Internet via UUCP, and many FidoNet discussion groups were shared via gateway to Usenet. Bulletin board system_sentence_211

Elaborate schemes allowed users to download binary files, search gopherspace, and interact with distant programs, all using plain text e-mail. Bulletin board system_sentence_212

As the volume of FidoNet Mail increased and newsgroups from the early days of the Internet became available, satellite data downstream services became viable for larger systems. Bulletin board system_sentence_213

The satellite service provided access to FidoNet and Usenet newsgroups in large volumes at a reasonable fee. Bulletin board system_sentence_214

By connecting a small dish & receiver, a constant downstream of thousands of FidoNet and Usenet newsgroups could be received. Bulletin board system_sentence_215

The local BBS only needed to upload new outgoing messages via the modem network back to the satellite service. Bulletin board system_sentence_216

This method drastically reduced phone data transfers while dramatically increasing the number of message forums. Bulletin board system_sentence_217

FidoNet is still in use today, though in a much smaller form, and many Echomail groups are still shared with Usenet via FidoNet to Usenet gateways. Bulletin board system_sentence_218

Widespread abuse of Usenet with spam and pornography has led to many of these FidoNet gateways to cease operation completely. Bulletin board system_sentence_219

Shareware and freeware Bulletin board system_section_12

Main article: Shareware Bulletin board system_sentence_220

Much of the shareware movement was started via user distribution of software through BBSes. Bulletin board system_sentence_221

A notable example was Phil Katz's PKARC (and later PKZIP, using the same ".zip" algorithm that WinZip and other popular archivers now use); also other concepts of software distribution like freeware, postcardware like JPEGview and donationware like Red Ryder for the Macintosh first appeared on BBS sites. Bulletin board system_sentence_222

Doom from id Software and nearly all Apogee Software games were distributed as shareware (Apogee is, in fact, credited for adding an order form to a shareware demo). Bulletin board system_sentence_223

The Internet has largely erased the distinction of shareware – most users now download the software directly from the developer's website rather than receiving it from another BBS user 'sharing' it. Bulletin board system_sentence_224

Today shareware is commonly used to mean electronically distributed software from a small developer. Bulletin board system_sentence_225

Many commercial BBS software companies that continue to support their old BBS software products switched to the shareware model or made it entirely free. Bulletin board system_sentence_226

Some companies were able to make the move to the Internet and provide commercial products with BBS capabilities. Bulletin board system_sentence_227

Features Bulletin board system_section_13

A classic BBS had: Bulletin board system_sentence_228

Bulletin board system_unordered_list_0

  • A computerBulletin board system_item_0_0
  • One or more modemsBulletin board system_item_0_1
  • One or more phone lines, with more allowing for increased concurrent usersBulletin board system_item_0_2
  • A BBS software packageBulletin board system_item_0_3
  • A sysop – system operatorBulletin board system_item_0_4
  • A user communityBulletin board system_item_0_5

The BBS software usually provides: Bulletin board system_sentence_229

Bulletin board system_unordered_list_1

  • Menu SystemsBulletin board system_item_1_6
  • One or more message basesBulletin board system_item_1_7
  • Uploading and downloading of message packets in format using XMODEM, YMODEM or ZMODEMBulletin board system_item_1_8
  • File areasBulletin board system_item_1_9
  • SysOp side, live viewing of all caller activityBulletin board system_item_1_10
  • Voting – opinion boothsBulletin board system_item_1_11
  • Statistics on message posters, top uploaders / downloadersBulletin board system_item_1_12
  • Online games (usually single player or only a single active player at a given time)Bulletin board system_item_1_13
  • A doorway to third-party online gamesBulletin board system_item_1_14
  • Usage auditing capabilitiesBulletin board system_item_1_15
  • Multi-user chat (only possible on multi-line BBSes)Bulletin board system_item_1_16
  • Internet email (more common in later Internet-connected BBSes)Bulletin board system_item_1_17
  • Networked message boardsBulletin board system_item_1_18
  • Most modern BBSes allow telnet access over the Internet using a telnet server and a virtual FOSSIL driver.Bulletin board system_item_1_19
  • A "yell for SysOp" page caller side menu item that sounded an audible alarm to the SysOp. If chosen, the SysOp could then initiate a text-to-text chat with the caller.Bulletin board system_item_1_20
  • Primitive social networking features, such as leaving messages on a user's profileBulletin board system_item_1_21

See also Bulletin board system_section_14

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletin board system.