Adventures in BBSing BBSing Nostalgia in the Twin Cities or "Internet killed the BBS star" Back before Internet boomed, there was a beautiful era where BBSes ruled the land. There was no AOL, no poorly designed web pages, no spam. There were just home grown bulletin board systems that were fun as all hell to interact with. Nowdays you can't get anyone to call a BBS if you put a gun to their head. Oh well. Expect this page to be updated with more and more stories as soon as I get around to organizing all the text together. In the Beginning.. While I started BBSing in 1989 with a TI-994/A, I was told of the earliest days of BBSing in the twin cities. I didn't have a phone line in my room, so I had to haul my whole setup down into the basement, right in the rec room. I had the stereo on, and the song I remember they played over and over again was "Beat the Bullet" by Vain. Some of the stories Primus told me(he got his name before the band from an AD&D manual), there were just three BBSes back in 1981. Each month all the SysOps got together for a meeting. One was called On-Target. Anybody have more historical information? Back in 1989 the two big mack daddy systems were TCCN(Twin Cities Computer Network) and Gizmode. They had silly little forums, and even an ASCII art section! What's funny about TCCN was that about 6 years after I stopped calling it, they mailed my home address with a flyer announcing their new Internet access service. Both those systems were pretty bland, but one of the very few multiline boards you could dial into. Of course, there was no chat. One other multiline system I remember calling was Minuet. Many people were addicted to this. It wasn't really a BBS, but just a free MUD people can dial into. The only notable combat I did was steal some powerful character's magical weapon, ran away several rooms and eventually got killed by its rightful owner. Around 1990 or so I purchased an Atari 800XL in hopes of abandoning the grim world of TI-994/A computers. Of course Atari 8 bits were also obsolete, so I didn't make much of an improvement. So I decided to get involved in a bit with the local Atari user group, SPACE(St. Paul Atari Computer Enthusiasts). Through contacts on TCCN, I met a fellow by the name of The Emperor Dalek. He was die hard Atari, with the bastardized Atari 1200XL at his side. Now the Atari 1200XL was supposed to be so much better than the previous models(until the 130XE and 65XE came out), but it had so many problems. But he didn't care, insisting it was the best 8 bit out there. Notable BBSes I used to call Callahan's Place - I was on some other system and saw the number to this Citadel, so I said what the hell. Needless to say at 13 the content on there shocked me. The users that frequented the system were pretty much all adults with their adult discussions. Needless to say they didn't like me, and I was twitted off there several times. My first encounter with this BBS was 1989, and to this day I think they're still up. Haven III: The Revenge - I called many BBSes listed in Computer User, being a free hardcopy of a BBS list for the 612. Sometimes you ran into a number on there that actually worked, and one of them was Haven III. It was an Amiga-based Citadel, run by Mysterious Stranger. For the first 4 months this board up, it was dead. It got about less than 10 posts a day. But then, I think around Christmas, things fired up. You see, there was a common phonomenon back then what we called "Christmas ruggies". Basically, some kid gets a brand new computer(or a new modem), and starts calling all these new boards to him or her. It's basically what I and many others went through. They do not really know any sort of BBS etiquitte(and many long-time BBSers still don't know). So, they come on and start acting like some jerkoff, which annoys the rest of the BBSing community. Of course, it is enjoyable to make fun of them, and play with their minds. Perhaps it is a hard way to learn a lesson of BBS etiquitte, but it's a neccessary one. Usually they only call a few times, realize they are not liked, and give up. Maybe they call other boards looking for friendly faces, or give up BBSing altogether. Of course they now skip BBSes altogether and be morons on America Online. Anyways, Haven III finally picked up after a while. It started with loads of abuse from ruggies calling constantly and leaving stupid messages. The board seemed to get more abuse than normal, but nothing serious. All Mysterious Stranger ever did was delete the offending posts or just ignore them. The ruggie attacks were more amusing if anything. A crowd of Macintosh users came to be with names like Man of Few Words, Reichstud, Joe McCarthy and a few others. A user named Adolf Hitler came on(ruggie), and made his own room(message base) called Concentration Camp. And every time a Concentration Camp room came to be, Mysterious Stranger renamd it to Kiddie Camp. There must of been at least three Kiddie Camp rooms until Adolf Hitler decided to give up. All the active users of Haven III proposed a small GT at a Pizza Hut in Dinkytown. Now Mysterious Stranger had different plans. He proposed we all go to the Science Museum of Minnesota to get together. He couldn't even make it to the Pizza Hut get toghether. Needless to say, nobdody showed up to Mysterious Stranger's plans, and Mysterious Stranger didn't even make it to our little get together. But that was alright. It wasn't like he really even cared about his BBS. It was a fun get together regardless. The NUG - One of the first users that came across my board went by the name of Big Eddie. It was before I ran Citadel at the time. I broke into chat with him and we had a long converstaion. He was about to start a warez board, and after a while we got together and exchanged a bit of warez. He had an even slower system than mine, being an original IBM PC. The only mediums we could exchange over was on a 720K disk, one at a time. He brought his whole system to my house, where he had the IBM PC wth the 1.44 and 360K drive. I was still using the Tandy 1000HX at the time, so there really wasn't much for me to game with, but we traded anyway. He eventually he started the board board up, the NUG. What did NUG mean? Nothing. Users were asked to submit what the NUG acronym stood foor. Some of the best ones were Nintendo Users Group, and Naughty Under Garments. Big Eddie must of ran at least 5 different BBS programs over the course of its existed. It started with Remote Access, then WildCat(his logoff banner said "Thanks for calling a WildCrap system!"), and a few others. There was a BBS program he actually purchased, which required the BBS to have at least a 14.4 modem running it. It was called SiliCosis, and from using it, it seemed like somebody was trying to make some money off of yet another hacked Vision BBS program. I'm not sure what the original BBS program was, but there was at least 20 knock-offs of it each pretty much being the same. After several months of running this program, things went downhill. Suddenly all these bugs started to show up, screwing up messages and so forth. It got a nickname of SiliBugSis, and Big Eddie switched to yet another BBS program. He looked at buying this awful BBS program as an investment gone bad, instead of hunting the author down. Eventually a scene called lameNESS started up.Regular users like The Madman, TNSLB(The Not so Lame Babe), Video Slime, Lord Toad, and others were involved. One of the best features of the board was Big Eddie's Oldies Emporium. It was a file section that contained games from the early 1980s. Acquiring these "classic" warez was easier said than done. Have you tried to scrounge around to look for games that have been long out of production? Fortunately, the collection was a decent size. When I first acquired my Tandy, I managed to get some games that were just the right speed for it, like Spy Hunter and a few others. Today Big Eddie is in a band which shall remain nameless. Absolute Zero - This was another one of those free for all BBSes, not too different than Haven III. Here is wherre my war between me and Toxic Nerd continued, and I met a bunch of unusual people at a related GT. I never actually met Toxic Nerd in person, but I heard recently that he was a programmer in his 40's. The Realms of Valor - This was a fun one. It had HackerNet, which was netted with Angus Young's board(in some other state) for a while, and was one of the many lone-standing h/p BBSes out there. It ran through most of 1995. The Crackhouse - I think this was the name. This was before "crackhouse" was known as a name where junkies hang out in. This was just another, but still fun Appleslime BBSes I called. It had a massive text file section explaining how to crack or cheat in various games for the Apple // in the early 1980s. Boards that really sucked for one reason or another Chez Spaz- The sysop, Your Father, was basically a dick towards me. Now your Father wasn't only an jerk towards me. When Larry Laffer first logged in he got on his case. yF said he didn't like the Leisure Suit Larry game, blah blah blah. But eventually he was let on. Then there was BellaTrix. Here's a guy who comes on to Bad Sector and Chez Spaz, and acts obnoxious, like any other Citadel user. After awhile, BellaTrix gets aide priveleges on CZ and things are going okay for him on there. Then several months later(it could be a year, I dunno) your Father kicks him completely off of Chez Spaz for deleting a bunch of rooms. Nice guy, huh? Aimee's Palace/The Peach Pit/(and several other names) It just, well, sucked. It was ran by this 14 year old girl who I was introduced to through a friend. This was the total sum of all bad WWIV boards. The SysOp, Fly Girl ended each sentence with an exclamation mark. The warez on it didn't work(as if that mattered), and the discussion forums had nothing intelligent to say. Her and I got together once, which was a complete disaster. She really pissed me off, so as soon as I got home, I put that Co SysOp access to good use. I deleted the entire BBS, some directories, and, oh yes, the root directory. After my work was done, she couldn't boot up her computer,and didn't know how to fix it. Then she called me up with her "new" boyfriend, wanting to know my last name. Why? She wanted to take me to court over the fact I deleted a bunch of directories on her precious little computer. Somehow several months later we patched things up. National Police Department - This was the BBS >>I<< tried to run, and looking back at all of it, it really sucked. I was more powermad than Your Father was, but oh well. From that experience I learned through the headaches a SysOp goes through just to support such a crazy hobby. See below for the full deal on this. The Atari BBSing scene Back then there were only 3 BBSes I knew of that ran on Atari 8 bit computers. It was generally one community who spanned across these three BBSes. There weren't too many Atari 8 bit users, so they had to stick together. One of them was SPACE, which represented the local Atari 8 bit users. It stood for Saint Paul Atari Computer Enthusiasts. It was nothing special unless you were a hard core Atari 8 bit user. Warp 10 - This was the biggest Atari 8 bit board around in the 612. It was run by a guy named Mr. Data who was obviously a Star Trek freak. He had plenty of message bases, games and files online. This was a fun board to call, and plenty of people were on it. There were plenty of message bases to go around(like "Gotta Beef?"), regardless of the high amount of busy signals. To think I would write email back and forth with Chebutykin and meet her several years later at the U of M. After a bit of time, it seemed that Mr. Data put too much of a priority of running Warp 10 into his life. If you simply dropped carrier(hung up) on the system with out simply logging out, it took the board a few minutes longer to reset itself. This did not meet Mr. Data's approval, so he supplied a punishment for it. Suddenly there were messages and system news informing you your access level would be lowered if you dropped carrier instead of logging out. I think that was proof enough he was simply too involved in running his BBS, to the point where if you make a small step out of line, you get punished for it. And even later on his BBS turned from free to fee, even though it was a single line system. If your BBS only has one line on it, paying the SysOp to be on it is simply absurd. After awhile I simply lost interest in calling it, and went on to other boards. I don't even think it is up anymore. Running my own BBS (this is a small except from a book I someday hope to publish, chronicling all the days of being on BBSes and the net from 1989-present) After about a year of BBSing, I decided to run my own board. I imagined all the fun you could have by running your own system. Having your own BBS was the ultimate ago trip. It was your* system. You could make it anything you wanted, You were God on your system. You could kick anybody you wanted off that you didn't like, and spread anything you wanted on there. I upgraded from the TI-994/A since then, to a cheap Tandy 1000HX computer. Yes, I bought a computer from Radio Shack. It was the cheapest available at the time, and I desperately wanted to get out of the TI-994/A purgatory. It was a cheap XT, with only 640K ram(acceptable at the time) with only a 720K floppy drive. The first mistake I made with running a board was making it only part time. It was up from 10pm to 4pm every day. Needless to say, I got plenty of calls from people(who obviously don't listen to their modem speaker) on off -hours. Trust me. If you're going to run a board, make it 24/7. The name? I decided to call it the National Police Department. Don't ask me why. It was yet another in-joke with a friend. The name of course probably scared off a lot of potential users, but oh well. The BBS program I first ran the board off of was a cheap public domain getup that no other BBS in the area code even used. It was user-unfriendly and the like. It ran on that for only a few weeks, but I met new people like Big Eddie. I decided it was time to change BBS programs. I asked a few people if it was possible to run Citadel off of only one floppy drive. Everybody, including the author of Citadel said it was not possible. With a few tricks I pulled, I made it possible. Amiga Citadel boards(Cit-68K) have been run before off of floppy drives, but running one on a PC platform was unheard of. I pulled a few tricks(like swapping disks around) and setup a RAMdisk for a few downloadable files. The message base size was considerably small(300K) compared to other Citadels, which had roughly 10 times the size. Shortly before the board went up, I changed my alias to Dark Thief once again making a name from my own imagination. It was mainly to escape my extremely bad reputation of being Sir Exodus, in hope of a new identity. Back then I was really into "interesting" text files that have been floating around on BBSes since the early 1980s. The text files I'm talking about cover topics such as how to build explosives, hacking, and phreaking. You know, questionably stuff.There was very little room on the board for these, but I managed to squeeze in a few text files for other people's reading pleasure. Even had a game or two on there from time to time. For safety reasons, I made the files only available if I invited the user to a special directory room. I didn't want some angry mother calling me up with her son blowing his hand off from a textfile he downloaded off of my board. This security precaution of course had its downsides. Often I chatted with many of the users on the board, out of boredom. A good deal of the users only called the board for one thing, and it was those files. Many of the questions I was asked was "where are the, uh, anarchy files?". Suddenly I questioned if these files are even worth my time having on there. Looking back at a it all, I really did a shitty job running the BBS. With the system only running on a floppy drive, it completely crashed several times. The message bases, user logs, EVERYTHING died on that one precious floppy disk. At one time I got so frustrated, I took out and threw one of the floppies against the closet door. The little metal tab was bent outward a bit, and stupid me put the disk back in. The disk eventually got jammed in there, but the metal tab was still lingering in the drive. The drive broke, and it set me back about $140 for a replacement. One time I remember it was late night and I turned on the screen seeing who was on. A user named Dr. Glade was very eager to chat with me. He left aborted messages saying "CHAT WITH ME. I KNOW YOU'RE THERE." when in fact, I wasn't. So I decided to chat with him anyway. He was eagerly warning me about some guy who was going to trash the BBS. Then a few days later, he left mesages like "Did you know I can run macro files on my computer when I'm away at school?" Roughly translated, he was bragging about he can trash my BBS for hours at a time and he wouldn't have to be at the console. This mystery person he was talking about didn't show up. Suddenly after starting up a BBS I had all these mysterious enemies plot some sort of conspiracy against me. The surge of oh-so-friendly users didn't end there. A user named Eris(it could of been Elrissa. I forgot) came on being a total snob towards me. Any spelling mistake I would make or any mistake for that matter came to her attention and she always was there to correct me. She liked rubbing anything she could into my face. She even took the ways I messed around with her account in a snotty fashion. I decided to take a look at her account in a user editor, and sure enough, her password was "fuckuforpeeking". Slick, huh? Most users tolerated the constant crashes, and just logged in as new again. And then there was the intentional destruction that was brought onto the BBS. You name it, they did it. Among some of the types of abuse were: 1. Some new user comes on and leaves a message saying this board sucks with an assortment of swear words. Not really abuse at all, but it hurts your pride just a little bit, seeing how much work you put into it. So you just delete the account and go on. It happens on all BBSes. 2. Several times my message base was flooded. My knowledge of Citadel at the time was low, so I didn't know how to configure the board to boot off message flooders. So it let people just scroll over the message bases. One time I set up the board off of regular hours just to show my friend. Less than an hour later, some asshole logs in as "Dark Burgler"(not even spelled right) and flooded a few of the message bases until I hung up on him. I learned how to add in the command line parameter to hang up on a user who posts 3 times in a row on the same base. Of course a persistent asshole could just call back again and again. 3, Perhaps the most elaborate one was this one asshole who logged in as "Dark Theif" and told almost everybody in mail warning them that they will be deleted if they act up. I forgot the exact wording of it, but it was a really rude messsage, and the not-so-bright users fell for it and swore at me and such. I had to go on other boards to tell the whole story so I could get some activity on the board again. On the brighter side, I had a small group of regulars who called the BBS who all knew each other. The person I knew the best was Wulfgar, who I gave Co SysOp access to. Some of the other regulars were Neon Man, Corinth(who everybody didn't like much), Neon Man, D-Man, Card Shark, and a few others. Wulfgar told me an interesting little story on one of his BBS experience. There was some board ran by a guy named Tenjumin. It ran the exact BBS software as Darksword did. Wulfgar's character(account) seemed to be the most powerful account on the whole board, surpassing even Tenjumin's stats. Tenjumin did not like this, so he deleted Wulfgar's account. So Wulfgar and his buddies got back at him. They kept starting up new accounts by the truckload with names like "Tem's a fag" and so forth. Their revenge tactic worked.
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