I got my first real computer (real in that I don't consider writing three line BASIC on my old Apple IIe as applied computer experience) in 1993. It came with a Prodigy account. Prodigy was really something back then, kind of like AOL but without the Gestapo tactics. However, one thing they were firm on was people paying their bill. So, after they cut me off, I decided to look through the yellow pages to see if there was anything else out there. That's when I found out about the BBS. From the first logon, I knew I wanted to do something like this. It was a chance to create something out of nothing more than some artfully placed code and my own imagination. I soon realized just how easy it was to set up and had my own BBS running in no time. It was originally called the "Astrological Love Lounge" (after the Lester Shy & Shyphonics song "Do The Brown-Nose") until its first makeover when I named it "Bowling For Jesus." I'm not sure where that name came from, I think it's just something I woke up with one day, but it was a toss-up between that and "Fondling Wombats" so I tried using them both equally for awhile but people seemed to prefer "Bowling For Jesus." I used Renegade software, which really seemed to bother my fellow sysops, most of which were using WWiV. I liked WWiV but it was only configurable if you bought the license. Renegade was 100% customizable. They finally lured me in by having one of the paying WWiV sysops make a few mods for me and leading me to believe that the WWiV Network wasn't a complete waste of time. But, the network was the jumping off point for a lifetime of silliness. When I first joined, I became familiar with Net36 and joined quite a few networks. They started streaming in like you wouldn't believe! It was almost like having real callers! Of course, the increased activity lead to real people actually calling my BBS and participating. This, of course, lead to problems. One user would irritate people in a networked music area, another would make suggestive comments to people in adult areas (which is what we thought they were for but what did we know?), etc. It finally came to a head when a tagline I used in my posts (from the Green Jello video "This has nothing to do with anything else but ... penis.") angered the network coordinator who then wrote me a long letter about using profanity, having no respect for other users, yadda yadda ding dong. Basically, he thought it was inappropriate using the word "penis" in a private area that was only accessable by sysops. I disagreed with this, dropped the entire network and used my newfound knowledge of Net36 to start my own network, you guessed it ... PENISnet. Around this time, a small group of sysops started an alliance called CHAOS (Christian Alliance Of Sysops) and made it their mission to get rid of us. They would call our BBS in the middle of the night and hang up in an attempt to take the line down so no one else could get through. They would leave profane messages in our message areas or start flame wars for no apparent reason. If they knew our home phone numbers, they would call and hang up on us over and over for hours at a time. So we retalliated. This is when PENIS (People who Encourage Nonconformity on the Information Superhighway) was born. Since it had irrtated them so much before, it was even better the second time around. It worked marvelously. We didn't even have to do anything and they were mad. We proved (if only to ourselves) how easy it is to anger someone who takes themselves that seriously. The point was lost on them but we spent quite a bit of time laughing at them and that makes up for it. The only thing we ever really did to them was logging into one of their bulletin boards under a fake name. We used a number that they could call and verify but the person behind it was one of us. He started by hitting their message areas with extremist Christian points of view, going so far as to argue with his own posts from earlier that day. He eventually gained their trust and became one of them only to logon one night and post homoerotic literature in their message areas. They simply removed the offending posts and never spoke of him. They also stopped bothering us after that. But, there was very little time left on the clock for us by then anyway. The internet started gaining popularity by that time. A very elite few had actual accounts they could use to access information (porn) from anywhere in the world without having to call a BBS long distance. Most of us still used our old "com" programs (I prefered Telix) to dial into our local BBS service and then go to the internet from there. Netscape was around at the time but people were used to text messages and ascii art so the idea of a fully graphical web interface was alien to most of us. It was around 1996 when I put up my first web site. I kept the BBS going for a couple of months but, in the end, it wasn't even worth the $6.95 I was paying each month for distinctive ring (another fine feature of Renegade). I retired my BBS with much of its dignity intact. Most of the users migrated to the web where our alliance remained for a couple of years but, without the easy option of calling for a "get together," most of us went our seperate ways. However, with the creation of community blog software and scripts, I believe there is hope for the web. Ed Yuban Webmaster & SysOp http://www.bowlingforjesus.org
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