304-768-3682 - Deadly Sins BBS - Edward Crouser SysOp This is an "essay" I wrote about my BBS on www.deadlysinsbbs.com ------------------------------- Many, many years ago.. Before the Internet was the place to be, thousands of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) had popped up around the country. On a local BBS, you could do many of the things that you see today on the Internet including email, chat, play games, download porn and various files. What was a BBS? Well, it was a piece of software that you basically ran off your computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would allow people to call up your computer, register as users, and use the services you provided for them. A "SysOp" was short for, "System Operator" (or a moron with lots of time on his hands, and a extra phone line and computer). Basically, he was the poor fool who decided to dedicate a portion of his life to keeping his system up and accessible to the public at large. Anybody who called BBSes back in the 80s, knew that it was the precursor to the Internet. It paved the path for the Internet to become what it has, but in several respects, there are several things about bulletin board systems that are missing from the Internet today. Don't get me wrong, only one person could be on a BBS at any given time (unless they had more than one telephone line), so you were constantly getting busy signals. You generally had limits on the number of files you could download, and the amount of time you could spend online per day. So I don't miss everything about BBS systems.. But, looking back on it, I wouldn't trade it for the world. After exploring several of the local BBS systems at a blazing fast 300 bits per second modem (I later upgraded to 1200 bits per second modem for my birthday), I decided I would eventually want to run one. If you are on a dialup modem right accessing this website, imagine this. A 300bps modem would have taken about 1 hour to download this one page. Your 56k modem (without caching the images) should have took around 19 seconds. A DSL line or cable modem should have taken mere seconds. So, as you can imagine, 300bps was pretty slow. A 1200bps modem would take around 15 minutes (a HUGE difference), and 2400 would take about 8 minutes. That was just for one page from my website! As you can image, all you ever really saw on a BBS system was text. Now, there was creative ANSI artists who could make pictures and buttons using color to make a BBS look good, but you didn't see high resolution graphics like you see on websites today. You could also download GIF images (porn) but it was like you'd be half way through jerking off before you made it to the tits in the picture. Before I could run my own, I would need to learn everything I could about how they were run, before I jumped in with both feet and started to sink. So, as I planned to upgrade my 1200bps modem to 2400bps (I wouldn't be able to run a 1200bps board, because no one would call - everyone was getting 2400bps modems), Greg Hively from "The Blue Powder" BBS, offered to sale me a 2400 baud modem. In retrospect, the job of Co-SysOp was also up to "Jimmy Vaughan" (who later went on to run "The House of Pain"), at the time I like to think that it was my skillful co-sysop abilities that landed me the job, but in reality I got it simply because I bought the modem off Greg. As I learned my trade from working on Greg's board I realized a few things. Active message boards were important, but even on top of that - most BBSes were way too restrictive! In fact, a band of BBSes, headed my Jack and Wanda Wright formed a group of BBS called "S.A.G.E" (SysOps As Good Examples), and adhered to a strict set of codes and morals for everyone on their BBS to follow. For example, you couldn't cuss on their message boards, they had overly religious tones, file download ratios, limited time and much more. I could see a perfect opportunity forming in front of me. But, the timing had to be just right. Then, it happened! I got kicked off of one SAGE boards for posting a message that was deemed "too offensive". To tell you the truth, I don't even begin to remember what exactly it was. I probably did it on purpose, I really can't exactly remember. But I was off the entire network. I didn't really have a choice but to start my own board. I had been working on getting my BBS together for several months, and this was the perfect time to strike. Up went, Deadly Sins BBS at 304-768-3682 (don't try to call it now, it's no longer up, you moron) and the rest is history. I tried to capitalize on the problems that plagued other boards, such as censored message boards. We advertised that we had no file upload and download ratios, uncensored message boards, private email that was actually private (SysOps had the ability and a tendancy to read through all of the mail marked "private". Can you imagine someone snooping through your email today?), no age limits, everything was free of charge (some systems charged, but we stole stuff off of the charging boards and made it free), and we advertised ourselves as members of "SABE" (SyOps As Bad Examples). I went with the theme of "Deadly Sins" for several reasons. The first, was that most of the systems were overly religious in nature. I wanted to distance myself from them as much as possible. Not that we didn't like religion, our most active message board was the "Religion Debate" area, and to this day I don't ever remember seeing as much intelligent conversation anywhere else (including the Internet). But besides all of that, upside down burning crosses just seemed cool at the time. There were several other decisions that I made that benefited the board quite a bit. I made a very talkative young girl named Jessica Dunn (or "The Witch Goddess" as she was known to the world) my Co-SysOp, and she headed up my message boards. Do you know what type of person called BBSes at the time? Young, lonely, horney males without a date because.. well, they were nerds. So for one girl to head up the message boards, that brought callers in by the dozen. Of course, within months of my board going up, several tried to duplicate it. Now, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when Jeff Wise saw how much "traffic" I was taking from his BBS, he converted his BBS "The House of Lords" (which I admired very much at the time), to being exactly like mine, complete with upside down burning crosses. His attempt at imitation didn't last long, but I knew at that point - that since "The House of Lords" was my favorite BBS to call and he had tried and failed to completely rip off the look and feel that I was going for, that my BBS had "made it". Pretty soon my phone was ringing off the hook, a far cry from the day that I first put it up, advertised on some other BBS that "it was up" and sat there waiting for my first call. Eventually my board would find it's way into a monthly ad in the back of Computer Shopper Magazine. Then, later in several other publications, including a book that detailed the BBS Systems around the country. Eventually, I would have callers from all around the world on a regular basis. Now, you remember Jack and Wanda Wright that ran the religious "SAGE" BBS? Well, they eventually called me up one day and said, "Ed, what's your problem with us?" and I basically told them that I never had one. I just needed to use their board as a springboard for my own, something that I could use as an example of how my system differed from the rest in the area. Theirs seemed to be the most restricive of the group. So, we mended ways and within a few weeks they called me up again for advice on converting their christian based BBS into a full fledge porn board. That's no lie! I guess I just have that effect on people. Speaking of porn, free speech and thriving message boards would keep people coming back, but I needed more. Eventually, I went the porn route, it was completely uncensored, so why not? Besides, everyone else made people pay to access their porn (and be of age). Sure, in today's "save the children" environment, I'd get thrown in jail for saying that I gave out porn to a 13 year old, but what the hell was I to do? I was underage myself at the time! So I didn't care how old you were, if you were smart enough to use a computer and a modem, I figured you were mature enough to look at titties. Eventually a group of local boards would form and create "FROST" (or FReedom Of Speech neTwork). There would also be wars against several boards. My personal most famous, would probably be against Jack and Wanda Wright. But there were others. Like a small war we had with Robert Vaughan. Now, I really could care less about Robert, I never held any personal grudge against him (like Jack and Wanda). But the fact was that a BBS war was good for business, if you know what I mean. I will have to be honest here and admit that his BBS did suck really bad. But hell, I didn't know him. My BBS was alive and well, for what I'm guessing was around five or six years. That's a long time, especially when you consider it was up from when I was 14-15 until I was into my 20s. It was a member of FidoNet, which passed messages from BBS all around the country, and made several message boards "national". I was a founding member of the local FROST group, and we had boards that constantly wanted to join. But, looking back on it, I never did get that second phone line. I guess that a busy signal was a way of life for my BBS. The board survived several moves, including my graduation from high school and moving to Morgantown, WV to go to college. Of course, I came back the next year to attend a local school but the local scene was fading rapidly. From the days of the "BBS Nite Out" when we would all head over to "Billy Bob Pizza Land" and greet our users, the scene had fallen far from its glory days. Eventually, the Internet would kill Deadly Sins BBS and make calling BBS systems in general obsolete (much like DVD has killed my cherished Laserdisc format). But there is many memories in the days were you could get away with just about anything online and you didn't have everyone in the damn world surfing the net and sending "HI ARE YOU A GIRL?" instant messages... Wait a second, maybe you did.. But without the general population online, you had far less of those morons. Back in the day of BBS systems, you had a tighty knitted community of people that were experiencing things that the general public wouldn't experience for years to come. The online experience. It may have been rough and outdated by today's standards, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. Edward Crouser SysOp of Deadly Sins BBS
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