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Memories.  I got my first copy of "Net-Works" from the owners of Ghost 
Ship I (312) 528-1611 and Ghost Ship II (312) 644-5165 (so named for their 
pirate pro clivities) along with one of the early SSI games, "The Warp 
Factor."  I think these two programs actually filled 2 discs.  It was a 
heavily modified version of Net-Works with no documentation and I had no 
idea whatsoever how to program such things so I had to learn by poking 
through the code and experimenting.  T his must have been around 1984 or 
something as I had just gotten an Apple //e and those hadn't been out very 
long (1983) when I finally got mine.  I even had that ugly dual disc drive 
thing that sat on top of the //e too.  I don't know who thought up the 
casing color for these things but I am convinced it came ou t of a Miami 
design convention.

It took me several months to modify the thing well enough to try and open 
my own BBS, which looked for several months suspiciously like the two 
Ghost Ships that birthed it.  It wasn't until GBBS Pro came out (along 
with its "ACOS" language) that "The Dark Side" finally got its own look.

"The Dark Side was primarily a text file (called G-Files then, I still 
know not why other than that's what they were called on RIPCO, "General 
Files" perhaps ?) and eventually a rather prolific Apple II pirate 
software BBS.  I don't think I paid for a single piece of software after I 
bought the //e.  This is signi ficant because I remember one weekend when 
my friend and I went in together to buy a bulk of 1,000 floppies.  We 
filled them in three weeks and had to buy an other case.  We were all very 
much impressed with the boards in California back then, as they all seemed 
to have the newest games sooner than everyone else a nd all the boards in 
Chicago were always trying to get a connection to Cali boards whenever 
something came out.  I'm sure my parents freaked out over all the 213 
phone calls at some point but having Aquatron (Cracked by The Freeze!) 
before everyone else in 312 was worth even a serious shouting match.

"Somewhere in there, right around the time we went to 9600 baud from 2400 
I think, I managed to put my hands on an external 20 meg hard drive for 
the Apple / /e I had.  It was made by some firm called "CMS" (all traces 
of which have since vanished), was the size of a large 4 waffle toaster 
and sounded like a King Air spooling up the engines on the tarmac when you 
turned on.  COOL!  The thing must have weighed 15 pounds and it was 
totally featureless except for two LED lights on the front.  Green (power) 
and red (activity).  Ugly as it was it ran reliably for as many years as 
the BBS was still up.

At some point a good friend of mine opened "The Courts of Chaos," the 
sister system to "The Dark Side" and also a GBBS board and also 
shamelessly pirate ori ented.  I think we made some attempt to hide things 
by making the files section "private" (with a sucker public section filled 
with, and I'm not kidding, des ert recipes, though I doubt most of the 
users even noticed them since going straight to the files section was SOP) 
but I doubt anyone was fooled for very long.

By 1988 I figured the way to really get the word out about a BBS was to 
write a popular text file and stick the number of the board on the bottom 
(and top a nd middle) of it.  I penned "The Modern Speeders Guide to Radar 
and State Troopers" early that year.  (You can still find it all over the 
place via a Google search so I guess it worked!).  I actually did more 
research on this little project than I ever did for anything in grad 
school many years later.  The phone was busy all the time after that and 
though I used to love to hear it ring reminding me that someone was 
logging on, I was happy to install a switch to shut the damn ringer up at 
this point.  Even the separate Radio-Shack "flashing ringer" got annoying 
and found its way into my junk drawer along with the old, 300
 baud internal Hayes MicroModem //e.

Things had pretty much peaked back in 1987 though with the release of 
"Airheart," by Dan Gorlin.  After that passed through The Dark Side 
everything else se emed to pale in comparison.  (Well, Karateka was pretty 
cool).  People started to spell "Pirate Wares" with a "z" at the end and 
drop the word "Pirate" all t ogether.  Folks started getting arrested for 
text files.  I graduated High School.  I discovered EFNet.  And that was 
pretty much the end of The Dark Side. Looking back at how serious the 
government was taking such things I'm surprised I didn't end up another 
teenage hacker felon.  Instead, I got a law degree.

- Exylic Xyth


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