From: Benjamin Hauger Subject: BBS info, for the record Jason, for completeness sake, I thought I'd toss you some information about the BBS my brother and I ran on our Apple IIgs back in the early 90's. History of Planet-Zero BBS (Johnstown, PA - 814-288-2882) Sysops: RedEVIL (Benjamin Hauger) - tech ops, hardware Slipstream - content, scene We were given our first modem, an Cardinal 2400 external, a Hayes Smartmodem clone, for Christmas of 1989. We connected it to our Apple IIgs and dialed up AppleLink (almost immediately renamed American online). I think in those days, it was still $12/hr prime time and $4.99/hr off peak. It was something outrageous like that. Anyway, we quickly ran up a bill on AOL and had to find lower cost outlets, so, using the BBS lists that were published in the back of the massive Computer Shopper magazines in those days, we dialed up some of the Johnstown area BBSes. One of the BBSes was Flood City, which was possibly the most popular / busy board, and hosted the second most files (massive ~300MB of storage) in those days. There was another BBS with a WORM drive, run out of some business with some restricted public access, but I sadly forget the name. Flood City went away after a hard drive crash. Anyway, my brother and I got to thinking we'd like to run a BBS, or maybe it was that I downloaded some shareware Apple II BBS software from AOL first and then we decided it'd be fun to make it real. Either way, we found ourselves putting up AppleLink BBS running the AppleLink BBS software around May or June of 1990, I believe. By the end of that summer, my brother decided he wanted a hip BBS, and it was renamed Planet-Zero BBS running on the AppleLink BBS software (8-bit apple BBS software based on AppleSoft BASIC with some machine-code serial drivers). Because our storage was limited to the 140k SS 5.25" FDD and the 800k DS 3.5" FDD, we limited our contents to message boards and 'g-filez.' We couldn't compete with the other BBSes in town for file content, lacking hard drives. Also, Johnstown was a little PC centric; there was never another Apple II BBS while I was on the scene there. The message boards featured phreaker/hacker/NUI/credit-card information with multiple levels of "eliteness" varying from lame (e.g.: law abiding citizens and guests) right up to a full-access level for friends, plus sysop/god levels for us. Most of the material was gleaned from other phreak/hack/warez BBSes and reposted, including cDc material from Texas, although we did our very own local nonsense, too. Our family was going through some tough times in those days, my brother and I put a lot of effort into it, somewhat as an escape from the disintigrating family scene. I would have been twelve when we first started in 1990, although I was also the technical brains behind the board happy to do my thing and deal with the predictable/controllable realm of hardware/software, while my (older) brother concerned himself with the board content and social contacts/promotion. For a brief period or two, it ran on its own line, but due to long distance charges, that was disconnected and the BBS was forbidden from being run any longer by our mother. (Father had been seperated at this point). Naturally, we got around this by modifying the house's telephone wiring so her bedroom phone would be disconnected at night and she wouldn't hear the ringing of people dialing in during the restricted operating hours of 11pm-8am. After The Slu Factory (C64 (300bps), 814-479-xxxx -- Davidsville, PA) closed, Planet-Zero _was_ the local phreak/hack scene and attracted some preak/hack talent, as well as posers and wanna-bes. The board became somewhat infamous for publicity stunts on the other boards, egotistically basking in its 'leetness, flyer design, and content in its advertising on other boards. Any publicity was good publicity, etc. Strangely, it was around this time that I discovered our disconnected 2nd phone line had been accidentally connected to another line, making it a sort of party line. We could listen to another home's conversations, dial long distance, etc. We didn't use it for dial-in, for the obvious reason that the other house would answer on rings, but my brother dialed out long distance for months with impunity and this greatly enchanced our ability to gether content for Planet-Zero. Based upon the conversations we listened to on the remote home's line, they never understood what was happening and blamed their children for the massive bills. They would occasionally pick up the phone and hear carrier, but just accepted it as "static" on the line as it would soon go away and be replaced with a dial tone. It goes without saying that I feel bad about this now, although at the time, we considered this the phone company's error and were happy to milk it for all it was worth. It took more than a year, but it was eventually fixed and the line once again went dead. Anyway, we eventually moved to GBBS, commercial BBS software we pirated, which was based on a c-like compiled language and ran much faster (as it was object code rather that a BASIC interpreter). We added a RAM disk for the message boards, which ran much faster than the 800k 3.5" floppy, although we had to copy it back to diskette each morning or risk losing all the night's posts. Anyway, the BBS basically was discontinued when all my siblings and I were switched to our father's custody for a variety of reasons at the time, and we were in another local calling region. I guess that the board was in operation from 1990-1992, basically, with a few interruptions due to hardware failure and phone problems here and there. Those years definitely had a huge impact on my personality and led directly to my interest in the Internet and Linux, which I gained access to by 1994 via a hacked VMS account on pitt.edu's local campus terminal server dial-in. My brother had noticed WiReD magazine, I read about TinyTIM, and made a set of friends there that last to this day. (There wasn't much else worth doing beside TIM and gopher until I was able to get a TCP/IP stack running on my 486sx/25 Win3.1 system that fall, but that's another story). It might also be worth mentioning that I registered planet0.org in 1996, and then planet-zero.org in 2001 or so; the latter remains my electronic home to this day. Best Regards, Benjamin Hauger (RedEVIL)
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