What did you used to like about the old BBS days?

I think for me what I liked was the chatrooms, the door games and the speed of the systems.

The chat rooms and the speed of the system seem to still not to have been equalled by web based systems, they are slow and buggy by comparison and they insist on hideous white background while you’re chatting which you can’t change.

I really miss hitting enter and my line of chat text appears instantly or posting a message and it’s just there solid and saved with no messing around, I have no big problem with facebook, but they still haven’t got chat rooms or even person to person chat working in any kind of nice way, and again horrible white backgrounds.

The door games were cool, my favourites were Global War (basically risk) and Legend of the Red Dragon, what door games did you play?

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These are always sad discussions for me, because I lived in England, land of the metered phone call, and the BBS scene was nonexistent. It was a rich kid thing!

I had no idea, we really were spoilt then. Of course while our calls weren’t metered by the phone company they were metered by our mums, only certain times we could use the phone line and only for so long, and typically your mother would forget and pick up the phone when you’d just spent the better part of an hour downloading some ‘huge’ 250kb file when you were at 97%.


I was in South Africa and dear Satan, the phone bills…

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Oh you know what boing boing also needs, chatrooms.

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TradeWars, Colorwars, I wasn’t too fond of LORD, there was that other one that was based/similar to it. BRE, etc,. I miss those games. Specially the BRE. The type I played had BBS vs. BBS module installed. Made that much more interesting.

IRC is still around no? If you miss chatrooms that much…

I miss the local community feel of the message systems. The remains of Fidonet isn’t the same as it use to be.

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IRC has it’s own issues, I used to use it but everybody is on facebook now, I’d rather chat with all my friends not just the IRC stalwarts.

I got into it a bit late but I remember a few things:

  1. Clocking a lot of time into L.O.R.D.
  2. Getting booted when caller ID became a thing for trying to have multiple accounts to play more L.O.R.D.
  3. Downloading some of the first MP3s (this was in the 90s methinks)
  4. Calling into the MAXIS BBS, Being too young to fully appreciate long distance charges, racking up a huge phonebill for my folks all so I could abuse their gateway to access the internet without being an internet subscriber…

Bonus: Chatting up the MAXIS SysOp and him offering to send me a game (Klik & Play)

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At a temp gig I figured out that one of the computers at my station had a modem to an outside line, which I then used to deal with boredom during my days. Dialed in to all sorts of BBSs all over the place.

Then one morning, before I got to the office, my temp agent called and told me not to go in. Apparently the phone bill for the extension assigned to my station arrived…I had racked up over $300 in charges during the month.

I miss the experimentation of it all. These days, the Internet is a utility, like water or electricity. Back then, you had to hunt down phone numbers, deal with busy signals, getting booted when the Admin wanted to use his computer. And the technology! I started at 1200 baud, and bought a new modem–twice as fast!–every time they came out. 2400, 4800, 9600, 14.4, 28.8, 56K! Plus I used PCMCIA cards, so there was the shrinking form factor thing as well.

Also: Ginger Lynn, 4-color CGA loop.


TradeWars 2002

Oh how I miss the weirdness of BBS days. Between about 13-15 is when I first got on them, at the houses of friends with computers. We used to get on a local board all the time that was supposed to be an adults only hangout, full of lots of goths. (I will never forget the looks on their faces when we showed at the all night dinner for a meet up and they realized how underage we were, haha!)

I miss so much that sense of the world opening up, of feeling like the future was right around the corner. Getting to talk to people so far away was amazing to me. It was like some crazy puzzle, a secret club.


@sadpear: I wasn’t at that meetup, but I was one of the random goths on BBS.

What do I miss most? Flamewars! No, not really at all. Curated moderation is a good thing. Maybe having a small, global community is what I miss. I met my BFF on BBS.


Does anyone else fondly remember logging into Citadel BBSes? There were a couple I would get on anywhere from three to four times a day. Not only did I have an active community of friends on there but I’d see many of them at least once a week.

And I met my future wife on a Citadel BBS…and last night we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Yes, I definitely have fond memories of Citadels.

Yep. I remember waiting while there were hundreds of people in the login queue to get into ISCA.

Oh my goodness it’s still a thing.

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I was never a BBS person, but I spent years hanging out in the wild west IRC chatrooms on EFNET, largely #litestep. The fun thing was how often the channels would get taken over during a ping flood war.

I got my first modems – a Volksmodem for my PC and a ??? for my Atari 800 – in 1986. I spent many hours calling BBS numbers on these lists that were circulated . . . where? how? There were ads in user’s group newsletters, and you’d get numbers from friends, but there was no guarantee that they’d work. I remember calling this one number over and over. I swapped modems to one with a speaker and realized that I had been inadvertently harassing some poor woman with modem-screeches.

There were so many varieties of boards in those days. You never knew what interface you’d be dealing with, or what content (if any) there was to see. It felt like exploration, poking around in a dimly lit cave.

Some boards seemed so desperate for callers. One had a ranking systems where your rank was displayed on a slow-displaying diagram of a mountain. “Promise to come back and receive a bonus 50 points!” I never did.

A college friend made a wonderful doorway game called Demongate. It was a real time space strategy game, a little like Masters of Orion crossed with the PBM game Star Web. You’d dial in and see how your explorations were going. Has your ship arrived at Sirius yet? Has that colony finished building its stargate? Did anyone invade your colonies while you were sleeping? It was all text-interface, but really intriguing with laconic humor. The poor guy who wrote it got so engrossed with MUDS and MUCKS that he lost his job, became homeless, and just kind of disappeared from view.

I actually went to a BBS convention. Met some of the faces behind the NYC / Long Island based boards. That was actually kind of a let-down, ruining the whole green-letters-on-a-black-screen illusion of a cool and dismebodied “cyberspace.”


I found the numbers for the local BBS’s in my area from a computer software hire catalogue. It mailed you floppy disks you tried out the software (and totally did not copy it) and sent it back a week later, from there I found the bbs listing maintained on one of those bbs’s listed in the catalogue, the rest is history.

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Yes! I don’t remember how I found my first number, but every BBS had a list of other numbers on it, so it snowballed quickly. In fact, I found this directory that has a bunch of my regular haunts on it.

I had no direct experience with BBSes when they were a big thing, but I recently played a game that I’m told is pretty authentic to the experience:


Worth having a go! Just don’t try the telephone-fraud bits at home, kids.

It felt so futuristic and exclusive.

My childhood friend who turned me on to BBS (in around 7th grade, or 1990) had a dumb terminal with a thermal printer. While he had a fair supply of thermal rolls, he was very conservative with them. He’d play Trade Wars (iirc) and hold the roller as the map redrew on one line.

I was hooked right away, and somehow got my hands on a used 486. My parent’s phone line was useless for the next few years.

I also spent quite a bit of time on 1 800 I FEEL OK.

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