- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. Adobe Reader
  2. Adware
  3. Altavista
  4. AOL
  5. Apple Macintosh
  6. Application software
  7. Arrow key
  8. Artificial Intelligence
  9. ASCII
  10. Assembly language
  11. Automatic translation
  12. Avatar
  13. Babylon
  14. Bandwidth
  15. Bit
  16. BitTorrent
  17. Black hat
  18. Blog
  19. Bluetooth
  20. Bulletin board system
  21. Byte
  22. Cache memory
  23. Celeron
  24. Central processing unit
  25. Chat room
  26. Client
  27. Command line interface
  28. Compiler
  29. Computer
  30. Computer bus
  31. Computer card
  32. Computer display
  33. Computer file
  34. Computer games
  35. Computer graphics
  36. Computer hardware
  37. Computer keyboard
  38. Computer networking
  39. Computer printer
  40. Computer program
  41. Computer programmer
  42. Computer science
  43. Computer security
  44. Computer software
  45. Computer storage
  46. Computer system
  47. Computer terminal
  48. Computer virus
  49. Computing
  50. Conference call
  51. Context menu
  52. Creative commons
  53. Creative Commons License
  54. Creative Technology
  55. Cursor
  56. Data
  57. Database
  58. Data storage device
  59. Debuggers
  60. Demo
  61. Desktop computer
  62. Digital divide
  63. Discussion groups
  64. DNS server
  65. Domain name
  66. DOS
  67. Download
  68. Download manager
  69. DVD-ROM
  70. DVD-RW
  71. E-mail
  72. E-mail spam
  73. File Transfer Protocol
  74. Firewall
  75. Firmware
  76. Flash memory
  77. Floppy disk drive
  78. GNU
  79. GNU General Public License
  80. GNU Project
  81. Google
  82. Google AdWords
  83. Google bomb
  84. Graphics
  85. Graphics card
  86. Hacker
  87. Hacker culture
  88. Hard disk
  89. High-level programming language
  90. Home computer
  91. HTML
  92. Hyperlink
  93. IBM
  94. Image processing
  95. Image scanner
  96. Instant messaging
  97. Instruction
  98. Intel
  99. Intel Core 2
  100. Interface
  101. Internet
  102. Internet bot
  103. Internet Explorer
  104. Internet protocols
  105. Internet service provider
  106. Interoperability
  107. IP addresses
  108. IPod
  109. Joystick
  110. JPEG
  111. Keyword
  112. Laptop computer
  113. Linux
  114. Linux kernel
  115. Liquid crystal display
  116. List of file formats
  117. List of Google products
  118. Local area network
  119. Logitech
  120. Machine language
  121. Mac OS X
  122. Macromedia Flash
  123. Mainframe computer
  124. Malware
  125. Media center
  126. Media player
  127. Megabyte
  128. Microsoft
  129. Microsoft Windows
  130. Microsoft Word
  131. Mirror site
  132. Modem
  133. Motherboard
  134. Mouse
  135. Mouse pad
  136. Mozilla Firefox
  137. Mp3
  138. MPEG
  139. MPEG-4
  140. Multimedia
  141. Musical Instrument Digital Interface
  142. Netscape
  143. Network card
  144. News ticker
  145. Office suite
  146. Online auction
  147. Online chat
  148. Open Directory Project
  149. Open source
  150. Open source software
  151. Opera
  152. Operating system
  153. Optical character recognition
  154. Optical disc
  155. output
  156. PageRank
  157. Password
  158. Pay-per-click
  159. PC speaker
  160. Peer-to-peer
  161. Pentium
  162. Peripheral
  163. Personal computer
  164. Personal digital assistant
  165. Phishing
  166. Pirated software
  167. Podcasting
  168. Pointing device
  169. POP3
  170. Programming language
  171. QuickTime
  172. Random access memory
  173. Routers
  174. Safari
  175. Scalability
  176. Scrollbar
  177. Scrolling
  178. Scroll wheel
  179. Search engine
  180. Security cracking
  181. Server
  182. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
  183. Skype
  184. Social software
  185. Software bug
  186. Software cracker
  187. Software library
  188. Software utility
  189. Solaris Operating Environment
  190. Sound Blaster
  191. Soundcard
  192. Spam
  193. Spamdexing
  194. Spam in blogs
  195. Speech recognition
  196. Spoofing attack
  197. Spreadsheet
  198. Spyware
  199. Streaming media
  200. Supercomputer
  201. Tablet computer
  202. Telecommunications
  203. Text messaging
  204. Trackball
  205. Trojan horse
  206. TV card
  207. Unicode
  208. Uniform Resource Identifier
  209. Unix
  210. URL redirection
  211. USB flash drive
  212. USB port
  213. User interface
  214. Vlog
  215. Voice over IP
  216. Warez
  217. Wearable computer
  218. Web application
  219. Web banner
  220. Web browser
  221. Web crawler
  222. Web directories
  223. Web indexing
  224. Webmail
  225. Web page
  226. Website
  227. Wiki
  228. Wikipedia
  229. WIMP
  230. Windows CE
  231. Windows key
  232. Windows Media Player
  233. Windows Vista
  234. Word processor
  235. World Wide Web
  236. Worm
  237. XML
  238. X Window System
  239. Yahoo
  240. Zombie computer

This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

Bulletin board system

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ward Christensen and the computer that ran the first public Bulletin Board System, CBBS
Ward Christensen and the computer that ran the first public Bulletin Board System, CBBS

A Bulletin Board System or BBS is a computer system running software that allows users to dial into the system over a phone line and, using a terminal program, perform functions such as downloading software and data, uploading data, reading news, and exchanging messages with other users.

During their heyday (from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s), many BBSes were run as a hobby free of charge by the "SysOp" (system operator), while other BBSes charged their users a subscription fee for access. Still others were run by Internet service providers as part of their service to subscribers.

In some parts of Asia and Europe the term BBS may be used to refer to any online forum or message board. See Internet forum.

Bulletin board systems were in many ways a precursor to the modern form of the World Wide Web and other aspects of the Internet. BBSes were a highly social phenomenon and were used for meeting people and having discussions in message boards as well as for publishing articles, downloading software, playing games and many more things using a single application.

The BBS was also a local phenomenon, as one had to dial into a BBS with a phone line and would have to pay additional long distance charges for a BBS out of the local area, as opposed to less expensive local charges. Thus, many users of a given BBS usually lived in the same area, and it was common for activities such as BBS Meets or Get Togethers (GTs or GTGs), where everyone from the board would gather and meet face to face, to take place.


A notable precursor to the public bulletin board system was Community Memory, started in 1972 in Berkeley, California, using hardwired terminals located in neighborhoods.

According to an early interview [1] while he was snowed in during The Great Chicago Snowstorm of 1979, Ward Christensen began preliminary work on the Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS.

CBBS went online on February 16, 1979 in Chicago, Illinois, and was the first of its kind.

With the original 110 and 300 baud modems of the early 1980s, BBSes were painfully slow, but speed improved with the introduction of 1200 bit/s modems in the early 1980s, and this led to a substantial increase in popularity.

Most of the information was presented using ordinary text or ANSI art, though some offered graphics, particularly after the rise in popularity of the GIF image format. Such use of graphics taxed available bandwidth, which in turn propelled demand for faster modems. Towards the early 1990s, the BBS industry became so popular that it spawned two monthly magazines, Boardwatch and BBS Magazine, which devoted extensive coverage of the software and technology innovations and people behind them, and listings to US and worldwide BBSes. In addition, a major monthly magazine, "Computer Shopper", carried a list of BBSes along with a brief abstract of each of their offerings.

Before commercial Internet access became common, networks of BBSes provided regional and international e-mail and message bases. Some even provided gateways by which members could send/receive e-mail to/from the Internet. Elaborate schemes allowed users to download binary files, search gopherspace, and interact with distant programs, all using plaintext e-mail. Most BBS networks were not linked in realtime. Instead, each would dial up the next in line, and/or a regional hub, at preset intervals to exchange files and messages.

The largest BBS network was FidoNet, which is still active today, though much smaller than it was back in the 1990s. Many other BBS networks followed the example of Fidonet, using the same standards and the same software. They were called FTN (Fidonet Technology Networks). They were usually smaller and targeted at selected audiences.

With the rise of the World Wide Web function of the Internet around 1996, BBSes rapidly declined in popularity in the west. In Europe and Asia, BBSes continued to increase in popularity for several years, but very few existed by 2004.

Several BBS systems connected directly to the Internet, removing the necessity of direct dial-up and consequently attracting a more geographically diverse user base. Today most remaining BBSes use the Telnet protocol rather than dialup, either by using BBS software designed to support Telnet, or by using a FOSSIL to telnet redirector or a COM port redirector with older DOS based BBS software.

Some general purpose bulletin board systems had special levels of access that were given to those who paid extra money or knew the sysop personally. BBSes that charged money usually had something special to offer their users such as door games, a large user base, or pornography. While many pay BBSes had pornography, some of the largest BBSes charged users merely for discussion boards. Pay BBSes such as The WELL (now Internet forums rather than dial-up) and Echo NYC (both of which exist to this day), and MindVox (which folded in 1996) were admired for their tightly-knit communities and quality discussion forums. However some "free" BBSes maintained close knit communities and some even had annual or bi-annual events where users would travel great distances to meet face-to-face with their on-line friends.

Some BBSes, called elite boards, were exclusively used for distributing illegally copied software. These BBSes often had multiple modems and phone lines, allowing several users to upload and download files at once. Most elite BBSes used some form of new user verification, where new users would have to apply for membership and attempt to prove that they weren't a law enforcement officer or a lamer. The largest elite boards accepted users by invitation only.

BBSing survives as a niche hobby for those who enjoy running BBSes and those users who remember BBSing as an enjoyable pastime. Most BBSes are now accessible over telnet and typically offer free email accounts, web interfaces, ftp file downloads, irc chat and all of the protocols commonly used on the Internet. Revival of the hobby that most presume to be from a "dead era" long since left buried under the sands of time has been gaining massive awareness by people who are nostalgic for what is referred to as "the hey-days". Others, including the newer generations of the 21st Century, are finding out about not only the "old school" BBS Technology but its modern day inheritor technology as well. Some BBSes are Web-enabled and have a Web-based user interface, allowing people who have never used a BBS before to use one easily via their favorite web browser. For those more nostalgic for the true BBS experience, one can use DOSBox running on a Linux PC and to redirect COM port communications to telnet, allowing them to connect to Telnet BBSes using 1980's and 1990's era modem terminal software, like Telix, Terminate, Qmodem and Procomm Plus. The same can also be done using NetSerial for Windows.

The website serves as a collection point of historical data involving the history of the BBS. The owner of this site produced BBS: The Documentary, a program on DVD that features interviews with well-known people (mostly from the United States) from the "hey-day BBS" era.


Much of the "Shareware" movement was started via sharing software through BBSes. A notable example was Phil Katz's PKARC (and later PKZIP, using the same ".zip" algorithm that WinZip and other popular archivers now use); also Wolfenstein 3D and Doom from id Software and many Apogee games.

See also: ANSI escape code, BBS door, Fido and FidoNet, Internet forum, ISCABBS, Tom Jennings and Ward Christensen


A classic BBS had:

  • A computer
  • One or more modems
  • One or more phone lines
  • A BBS software package
  • A sysop - system operator
  • Some BBSes allow telnet access over the Internet using a telnet server and a virtual FOSSIL driver:
    • NetSerial (Windows)
    • GameSrv/NetFoss (Windows) [popular]
    • NetModem (Windows)
    • SIO/VMODEM (OS/2)
    • Synchronet bbs [Windows, Linux, OS/2]Synchronet Homepage [popular]

The BBS software usually provides:

  • Login screen
  • Welcome screen
  • One or more message bases
  • File areas
  • Online games (usually single player or only a single active player at a given time)
  • A doorway to third-party online games
  • Usage auditing capabilities
  • Multi-user chat (more common in later multi-line or telnettable BBSes)
  • Internet email (more common in later Internet-connected BBSes)

A BBS will often have mail (or mailer) software to interface with a network, such as FidoNet. Commonly used mailers include (or have included):

  • Argus [Popular]
  • Blue Wave
  • BinkleyTerm (widely ported to different Operating Systems)
  • SGMail
  • Seadog (very old!)
  • D'Bridge
  • FrontDoor
  • Intermail
  • FMail
  • McMail
  • Sinister Offline Mail Reader
  • Xenia
  • Portal of Power
  • Qmail
  • Rnet
  • MarkMail
  • SLMR
  • CamMail
  • T-Mail
  • Platinum Express (for use with Wildcat! and WINServer)
  • QFront (Wildcat! and PCBoard systems)
  • FirstClass
  • Trapdoor (Amiga)

See also

  • List of BBS software
  • BBS: The Documentary
  • Minitel

Notable BBSes

  • OSUNY, legendary old-school hack/phreak BBS from the 1980's
  • Demon Roach Underground, a popular hacker BBS and former home of the CULT OF THE DEAD COW
  • ISCABBS, the largest worldwide BBS located at the University of Iowa.
  • Rusty n Edie's BBS, raided by the FBI in 1993 and sued by Playboy in 1997

External links

  • The BBS Archives
  • BBS Documentary Video Collection (Internet Archive)
  • Telnet BBS Guide
  • The TEXTFILES.COM Historical BBS List
  • BBS ads: a tour of ASCII and ANSI art from the 80s and 90s
  • Bulletin board systems at the Open Directory Project
  • Ward Christensen's account of the creation of CBBS, the first BBS in history
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