Nostalgia settles in. Urge to run a proper BBS takes hold once more.

Saw a segment on G4TechTV the other day about the guy who’s making BBS: The Documentary. I’ve mentioned before that I was a BBS Sysop back in the 80s and that’s where Momma’s Corner was first unleashed upon the world and I must admit that I kinda miss those days. I started off running on a Commodore 64 with two 1541 disk drives running a package written by a friend of mine called System 64. That ran for four years or so before I took it offline and then brought it back with my Amiga running a whole host of different packages, the last of which was Amiga CNet Pro. That package is still installed on my Amiga 3000 with a fully populated message base and user list virtually untouched from the last time I took it offline back in 1994.

All I would need to bring it online would be an old Zorro III networking card for the Amiga 3000, but those are a bit hard to find these days. There are folks selling kits to allow the A600/A1200 (of which I have the latter) to make use of common PCMCIA network cards, but I’d rather get the old 3000 online. Barring that, I’ve got a spare PC sitting around doing nothing in particular so I’m debating downloading one of the handful of BBS packages still produced for Windows that can be hooked to the internet so folks can telnet in allowing anyone in the world to visit. I just need to take the time to look at the various packages available and see if there’s one I can get up and running easily. Then a quick config of a dynamic DNS would be all that I’d need. The real question is: Are there enough folks out there who’d like to see what it was like to do this sort of thing “old school” that you’d like me to go ahead and do this?

Oh, and if any of you folks have old Amiga equipment laying around that you’d like to donate to the cause, particularly A3000 network cards, feel free to drop me a line.

23 thoughts on “Nostalgia settles in. Urge to run a proper BBS takes hold once more.

  1. I, too, ran a c64 BBS in the 80’s (Warez ‘R’ Us – TEF/WHO WHQ; INC WCHQ [despite what The Shark recalls]; and SCG WCHQ) and later Amiga and even PC for a brief time in 1993-4.  It always warms my heart to know that others look back as fondly on these days as I do.  I think I have an old Amiga monitor in storage somewhere, but doubt this would be of much use (esp. considering shipping costs).

  2. Don’t need any Amiga monitors. Though I could use a monitor cable for an A1000 to A1080 as I have the monitor, but no cable right now. I have seen adapters selling on eBay for under $10 so I may just go that route.

    The A1200 and A3000 will hook to a standard PC monitor so they’re not a problem. Yep, I still own three Amigas. My original A1000 was returned to me recently by my ex-fiance whom I sold it to years ago. My A1200 and A3000 are sitting around waiting to be used once more. I sold my A2000 years ago as well.

    JethricOne was teasing me at work yesterday saying that the only people worse for rabid-advocacy than Mac people were former Amiga people. Damn straight.

  3. Gods…
    I remember running my bbs’s on c64, TRaSh80’s and later Apples and PCs.

    I would *love* to go back to the bbs days, I miss the Well and EchoNYC as well as the other regional BBSs with their Fido mail relays and waiting for more than a day to get email smile

    Man I feel old LOL!

    While I do not have any Amiga parts around, if you need anything PC based to go that route, let me know … I have tons of crap in the evil laboratory that is my office smile

  4. In the time and age of websites, chat rooms, and instant messaging it’s hard to see which niche a BBS would fill. On the other hand, I’m always one for retrocomputing wink

  5. John, I’m pretty much set PC wise as my wife likes to remind me so I can’t think of anything I’d need. I already tested out one Windows based telnet BBS last night called Mystic and even got the DynamicDNS config to work properly. It’s not up at the moment, but I know that it’s doable and easy.

    Elwed, it wouldn’t fill any niche at all. It would be purely for the retrocomputing geekiness of it, not because it serves anything close to a purpose. I don’t imagine it would get anything close to the usage of my youth, but it might be an amusing distraction for a bit.

    Daryl, I can always limit it to 1 user at a time. Not exactly the same as a busy signal as there’s no noise and I don’t know how you’d autodial a telnet client, but it’d be as close as we could get.

    Hey, at least I’m not being as geeky as Leif Bloomquist who actually has a Commodore 64 BBS you can Telnet into on the net. And it will only take one user at a time.

  6. I miss the green glow of a character only CRT, the simple ascii art and later ANSI artworks we sent to eachother thinking we were amazing computer artists…

    God I sound like my grandparents when they waxed nostaligic over nickle subway rides, penny arcades that actually cost a penny, “El” trains running in Manhattan, etc smile

    But I have been feeling old and nostalgic anyway lately .

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  7. My Wife’s cousin has a functioning C64 with 5 1/4” floppy and printer in the basement.  Having dabbled and struggled with VMSsound and Dosbox to get my old favorite games to run I am not sure that the rewards are worth the effort. Good luck

  8. >> I am not sure that the rewards are worth the effort<<

    To me at least, the effort is its own reward… but that is the true definition of a hacker/geek IMO smile

  9. Oh hell, I’m not going to try and put a Commodore 64 on the net. I’m only interested in using the Amiga if I can find a network adapter for it. If I go with a Windows based BBS then there’s nothing special I have to do to get it to work.

  10. Hey, thanks for bringing back some memories!  I ran a BBS in the 80s at work on an old greenscreen Sperry 8086.  I graduated to being a sysop on Compuserve.

    You could try a message at one of the online museums to locate parts, Google old computers.

  11. Do you remember BBS ran games like Lord of the Red Dragon?  There was another one like that I used to like to play too….  One little side note though, I think you guys are thinking BBSes were around longer ago than they actually were.  I remember there being BBSes up to the early mid ‘90s….  There were still some of them up as late as 10 or so years ago….  It’s just that technology is improving at such a crazy rate.  I mean when I started university the fastest modem (and connection) you could get was a 36.6.  Now look at the ‘net, most people have broadband, there’s even a few people with T3 connections at their homes.  I bet you in 5 years we’ll be laughing about the stuff we’re using now and talking about how archaic it was….

  12. I ran an InfoQuick (Lew Lasher) BBS from around 84 to 86 on a c64 as R.K. Adams, two 1541’s, and tons of DrPepper (and other substances).

    The one thing i miss a great deal is chatting…
    It ain’t no instant messaging, where you prepare, edit, and then send your text.  Instead, you watched as the other participant typed, delayed, deleted, then paused again, etc.  It was much more like a conversation.

    I hope, one day, instant messaging with develop into that “real-time” typing dynamic again, but i doubt it.  Videophones will soon replace instant messages altogether.

  13. Just a quick note: you wouldn’t necessarily need a Zorro3 network card to make this happen.  In fact, the BBS software might or might not know what to do with a network card at any rate.

    The alternative is to hook up a null modem cable between a networked computer and the A3000.. Let the 3000 think it’s talking to a modem.  This has the side-benefit of limiting you to one connection at a time.  You would just need to find some code to run on the Windows box which would accept incoming telnet connections and forward them to the serial port (which connects to the Amiga).

    My bet is that someone’s already written this, if you look around for it.

  14. Actually, I already know that CNet would work with telnet just fine as there are already CNets out there hooked to the net in just that fashion. The software allowed you to specify what device it used for its ports so all you have to do is change serial.device to telnet.device and you have an instant telnet-able BBS system on the Amiga.

  15. Okay, going to get all you ‘old’ folks mad at me*, BUT – I’d prefer Les keeping up the good work on THIS project here.

    *And even if I’m only 27 I understand nostalgia perfectly well.

  16. Oh hell, I wouldn’t allow the BBS to replace SEB. At best it my supplant it, but I would be surprised if it even came close to being used regularly. Half the reason that BBSs fell out of favor was due to the rise of the Internet.

    In fact one of the main reasons I ran a BBS in the last few years before I took it offline was because I could use it to import USENET newsgroups and email through a UUCP account I had with a local university. For quite a few local callers I was a mini-ISP in terms of providing internet email and newsgroups, but once ISPs started to sprout up all over the place allowing everyone access to everything on it with a single phone call, well, the services performed by your local BBS operator became unnecessary.

    The truth is the internet as it stands today is infinitely more useful and easier to work with than any BBS package ever was. Still, there was a sort of intimacy in the BBS world that is lost in the vastness and that’s part of what appeals to us old timers. I had at least three or four BBS Bashes; parties where regular callers would come over to my house for a chance to put faces to the names while chowing down on some free food and playing video games and the like. There’s a couple of pictures from one of them in my memorial to my friend Bill in the photo gallery.

    That’s how I met my good friend Daryl Cantrell who posts here occasionally (most recently in this very thread) as well as several other long-time friends. I can’t imagine there are enough SEB regulars in my vicinity to make throwing an SEB Bash a worthy undertaking. Unless you’re all rich enough to afford the plane tickets to drop in some weekend that is. grin

  17. I’ll take you up on the invitation to meet if I ever visit (your corner of) the US. But I won’t be able to pay for all the others wink

  18. Wow, I’m too in the middle of a nostalgic trip which has led me to run AmiExpress in Winfellow Amiga emulator. I’ve transferred the majority of files over to my newly revamped Amiga 1200, which I recently took out from the attic. Having modem connection problems at the moment, so if anyone can assist in a way to ‘call’ my Amiga BBS from the PC, I’d appreciate it. The two are connected via a nullmodem cable.

    As for the question in hand, the return of BBS’s is a must. Oldschool BBS’s, that is.

  19. Hi All,

    I loved the bbs days so much, I am re-opening my wc5 (winserver) system shortly…I am trying to make something new out of something that really isn’t new new. mad

    I sure hope it brings bbs users around, and for those who are still ‘writting code’ for doors & such, I respect your efforts! And by the way I will bookmark this page and come back when everything is up, I don’t know exactly the date of the bbs launch will be, but I am definitley sure sometime in the new year 2005. It will feel ‘funny’ running a bbs in this day in age.

    Take care!

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