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Those old BBS days...

Share your reflections or stories of New Zealand's computing past

Those old BBS days...

by tezza » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:31 am

In 1984 I borrowed a 300-baud modem acoustic coupler modem from the Massey computing centre so I could use my System 80 at home to type my masterate thesis and upload the raw script to our mainframe for high quality printing. I soon ditched the acoustic coupler for my own Dick Smith “mega-modem”. This introduced me to the cool world of wide area networks.

In 1988-1989 I spent a lot of time on local BBS’s here in Palmy. There were about five of them. I went under the handle “Mac the knife” which caused a bit of confusion because other users seemed to think I had a Mac. I actually had a bog-standard XT compatible with first a 1200 baud then 2400 baud modem. It was a lot of fun. I was connected to the Internet at work so spent a lot of time uploading funny jokes from the rec.funny newsgroup for others to enjoy.

I don’t know how many of you have seen the Jason Scott doco called “BBS: The documentary”. Well worth getting if you were at all caught up in the BBS scene.

Software, games, messaging, meeting people, chatting with the Sysop and redialing countless times in the hope of getting a free line. Anyone else have fond memories of those times?
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by WelshWizard » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:41 am

back in the 80's I had a Kirk 300 modem, Use to hack the packet lines so we could get into the Atari BBS's in the States from the UK, if I find the old back up disk I could probably list the boarsd visited as we used to get the hacks for the Atari through them, thats how one Atari ended up with 3 switchable OS chips 1040k of memory etc. I do remeber the old log in though on the BBS .
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by lizardb0y » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:50 am

There are BBSs accessible over teh Interwebs using telnet and other protocols. I joined the Retro Challenge BBS during their Summer Challenge this year. This is how I introduced myself:

telnet bbs.retrochallenge.net
lizardb0y
*******************
S
Hello
R
136

Posted By: lizardb0y (lizardb0y) on 'Hello'
Title: WTF am I doing on a BBS?
Date: Fri Jun 10 06:25:35 2011

Back in 1990 or thereabouts I ran a BBS in Dunedin, New Zealand called
"Milliways - The BBS At The End Of The Universe. I'd been a BBS user for
a few years, having first dialled up to the local university with a ZX81
and 300 baud acoustic modem connected via a home-made serial interface,
sometime around 84 or 85. By the late 80s all of the local BBSs had
stopped allowing handles - real names were required everywhere. This was
wrong. And somebody had to do something about it.

I set up Milliway's at my parent's place with a 2400 bps modem and a 286
running DR Concurrent DOS and Searchlight BBS shareware edition (who didn't?)
I made a whole bunch of crappy ANSI art ans set forth. There really wasn't
much of a plan other than "build it, allow handles, write a Purity Test door
in Turbo Pascal and they will come" and come they did. A bunch of loonies,
misfits and sociopaths. My kind of people.

It didn't last that long - maybe until 93 when I decided I couldn't afford the
phone line anymore. By that time teh Intertubes had started to happen,
despite my best attempts to hold it back. My beloved Gopher was giving way
to this newfangled bandwidth wasting World Wide Wombat and everyone was
spitting typed inanities at each other over IRC. Disgusting. Vile. And
sucking up the valuable bandwidth I was trying to download SLS Linux over.

This is the first time I've logged into a BBS of any kind since the demise
of Milliway's. It looks nothing like Searchlight, which is just as well
really. It brings back fond memories of 20 minutes a day quotas and
redialling constantaly from midnight until I could get a line. It
reminds me how much I enjoyed the smaller, closer communities that BBSs
developed. Yep.

Oh, Hai. Yeah. I'm lizardb0y. Nice to meet y'all.
--
lizardb0y
I like old computers. And vi. Gimme vi dammit.


http://www.vintage8bit.com/content/teln ... allengenet
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by tezza » Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:53 am

On-line with a ZX81. Now that is hard core!

Yes, I remember Gopher.

What prompted this post about BBS’s is that I’ve been playing with a TRS-80 BBS, just out of curiosity. As a proof of concept-type of exercise I managed to get the BBS (running in a TRS-80 Model 1 emulator) accessible over the Internet by plugging the stand-alone PC the emulator was running on (via RS232) into an Internet-capable PC running a Telnet/BBS server. This showed it was certainly possible to host an Internet-accessible BBS running on a REAL Model I (or Model III/4).

I don’t intend to run a TRS-80 BBS, but I found it rather cool that it could be done…and quite easily.
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by Murray » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:03 pm

I was in the Auckland BBS scene in the 80's and early 90's. I went under a couple of names, both my real name (Murray Moffatt) and also an alias of The Bit Bandit.

I started off with a 300 baud modem, then followed with 1200, 2400 and 56k modems. Back in those days I was an Atari user and I ran a couple of BBS's on my Atari ST for a while. My memory is a bit hazy but one of the names was STarlight Express.

I also used Jon Clarke's STaTus BBS and David Dix's KC BBS.

The handle "Mac the Knife" seems familiar...

I remember the queen of the boards was Bernadette Mooney (we used to call her "B"), I wonder whatever happened to her?
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by gavo » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:08 pm

tezza wrote:Software, games, messaging, meeting people, chatting with the Sysop and redialing countless times in the hope of getting a free line. Anyone else have fond memories of those times?

What do you mean those times? I still frequent a (telnetable) BBS daily! I'm starting to wonder just how hard core you guys are ;-)
Murray wrote:Said some stuff

At least half of those names ring a bell for me, and as I remember it KC (Kappa Crucis) BBS was the place to be with access to news groups etc - actually a quick google throws up this - http://www.kcbbs.gen.nz/info.html - havent had a good read of it yet tho.
tezza wrote:I don’t intend to run a TRS-80 BBS, but I found it rather cool that it could be done…and quite easily.

It is quite fun, but you really have to be hard core to run a vintage BBS these days and not be too disappointed when no one calls. I had a go at getting (a natively non internet capable) Apple II BBS online a couple of years back for the retro challenge - was a bit of a laugh. I always thought that if I got the space to set some kit up permanently I would put it back online.
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by tezza » Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:57 pm

gavo wrote:What do you mean those times? I still frequent a (telnetable) BBS daily! I'm starting to wonder just how hard core you guys are ;-)

LOL!
gavo wrote:It is quite fun, but you really have to be hard core to run a vintage BBS these days and not be too disappointed when no one calls.

Yea, that what I figure. It would take a bit of time to populate it and set it up...plus leaving a machine on all the time...for probably for about 1 call a fortnight if that. It's nostalgic seeing those letters scroll across the screen at 300 baud reading speed but the novelty soon wears off. Still...the thought of a BBS running happily from a twin floppy 30 48k 30 year old machine is just kind of appealing. Something that you could open for a week and enjoy., Ideally as some kind of wider Vintage Computer celebratory "event".
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by lizardb0y » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:16 pm

I just found a big list of telnettable BBSs here: http://bbs-scene.org/bbs_list
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by Gibsaw » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:21 pm

gavo wrote:as I remember it KC (Kappa Crucis) BBS was the place to be with access to news groups etc - actually a quick google throws up this - http://www.kcbbs.gen.nz/info.html - havent had a good read of it yet tho.


Indeed, KCBBS was a good place, and was my ISP for quite a long time. (I was "yngwie", and another of my IBM/ex-uni compatriots was "smuso")

Last I looked, the website was very out of date. A lot of interesting people still on KC, although I think David Dix is just doing wholesale operations these days. The annual KC dinner was always an interesting table to be at. :)

Bernadette still works at the uni last I checked. I haven't been back there in at least 18 months though.
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by Murray » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:44 pm

A lot of good BBS history can be found at http://www.nethistory.co.nz/index.php/Chapter_6_-_Craving_for_Connection_-_Dawn_of_the_Dial-up_Community

I've just spent half an hour reliving old memories...
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by tezza » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:56 pm

Thanks for that link Murray. I didn't realise "Connecting the Clouds - the Internet in New Zealand" was also available in Wiki form.

That chapter looks like a great read. I'll make my way through it in the next day or so. Although not mentioned, there was a bit of a "BBS scene" in Palmerston North too. It's so long ago I've forgotten most of it though!
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by Radar » Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:10 am

tezza wrote:That chapter looks like a great read. I'll make my way through it in the next day or so. Although not mentioned, there was a bit of a "BBS scene" in Palmerston North too. It's so long ago I've forgotten most of it though!


I started off on the BBSs in Palmy and later when I moved to Dunedin for Uni continued calls local Dunedin boards.

I went to school the guys who started ACME in Palmt and they provided my first access to Usenet via UUCP etc. (End of 1991)?
+ spent lots of time on Cyberlink 2/3 + Sidewalk / Transition / TopGun etc.

The Palmy BBS scene is one of the best NZ one documented online as Alan Brown (Dawghaus / Planet) updated and reguarly posted to Usenet a Manawatu / P.North / Levin etc. BBS List.

1992 List:
https://groups.google.com/group/nz.comp ... 08ba?hl=en

1995 List:
https://groups.google.com/group/nz.comp ... 370b?hl=en

Lots of memories looking at those lists!
Somewhere in the shed I know I have a 20MB HDD from a PC with lots of TELEMATE logs from calling boards back in the day - will add retreiving these to the "big list" of things to do one day.
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by Murray » Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:18 am

Ah yes, I remember Telemate well! Great program....
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by tezza » Mon Nov 21, 2011 12:05 pm

Radar wrote:The Palmy BBS scene is one of the best NZ one documented online as Alan Brown (Dawghaus / Planet) updated and reguarly posted to Usenet a Manawatu / P.North / Levin etc. BBS List.

1992 List:
https://groups.google.com/group/nz.comp ... 08ba?hl=en

1995 List:
https://groups.google.com/group/nz.comp ... 370b?hl=en

Lots of memories looking at those lists!
Somewhere in the shed I know I have a 20MB HDD from a PC with lots of TELEMATE logs from calling boards back in the day - will add retreiving these to the "big list" of things to do one day.


Thanks for those lists! I recognise some of those BBSs. Not many though as I stopped BBS'ing around late 1990 when a big change in life circumstances intervened. I think there were only about 5 BBS's in Palmy when I stopped, but new boards were opening up all the time.

I was a regular on HAMBOARD up to that time (OPEN ALL HOURS was another one). Looking through my archive floppy disk images at lunch today I noticed I had 1990 LOGS from HAMBOARD sessions. It's from the time when HAMBOARD was coinsidering implementing a Fidonet node. Through the magic of virtual PC I had a quick look at them. The memories! Some handles which featured were:

UNCLE SCROOGE (Andrew Mercer?)
JIM THE EAGLE
CAPTAIN DOS
VAUGHN DOOD
RICK
PAUL
RENZE DE RUITER
ANDREW MCKENNA
KING KONG
HITMAN
SIGMA
MANIC MAN
DEEP THOUGHT
NIGHT HAWK
MAC THE KNIFE (me!)

..amongst others. Reading the messages brings back a lot of insight as to what was going on at the time. Including innovation and dissent! I must snatch some time to read them properly at a later date. There is history captured in those session logs!
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Re: Those old BBS days...

by Gibsaw » Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:44 pm

Murray wrote:Ah yes, I remember Telemate well! Great program....

mm.. TELIX was the one I remember... mostly because I was a too lazy to configure external modules for download protocols and it supported ZMODEM, plus the sideband chat feature directly.
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