The Lost Civilization of Dial-Up Bulletin Board Systems

November 7th, 2016 by Benj Edwards

The Cave BBS Logoff ANSI by Nukemaster

Last Friday, The Atlantic published an article I wrote in which I explore modern-day dial-up BBSes.

Some of you may remember that I've visited this topic before — on this very blog — way back in 2006. In my recent virtual travels, I found it very interesting to see how things in the dial-up BBS space had changed over ten years, and I allude to that in my Atlantic article.

I've mentioned this many times before, but for those of you who are unfamiliar, I ran a dial-up BBS called "The Cave BBS" between 1992 and 1998. Since 2005, I have also run a telnet version of The Cave.

To read more about my BBS adventures, check out the "BBS History" category on VC&G.

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The Dial-Up BBS Revisited

August 30th, 2006 by Benj Edwards

RedWolf's BBS Computer, Circa 1994Most BBS enthusiasts know that the last outpost for BBSes has been, for some time now, through telnet on the Internet. There was a time, however, when when dial-up BBSes over analog phone lines were the rule, not the exception. And believe it or not, there are still a handful of BBSes out there that have not modernized and switched over to the 'Net. The only way you can get to them, though, is through an old fashioned analog phone modem, regular ole Ma Bell lines, and a little patience.

Visiting such old BBSes is incredible — it's like traveling back in time to the early-mid 1990s. Each BBS is a unique a time capsule, stocked with trinkets and ephemera from the period. On message boards, you'll find posts from 1994 about the O.J. Simpson trial and which player-made Doom levels are best. In file transfer sections you'll run across large archives of long-forgotten Windows 3.1 screen savers. In door sections (online games), you'll find abandoned TradeWars 2002 games, still in progress, that haven't been touched in eight years. And of course, the Ferrengi have completely taken over.

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