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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