Fidonet

I don’t recall precisely when, but somewhere in the misty past I’ve written mentioned the old Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) of yon. Well, I’m about to mention it again. It began about 1982 or 1983.

A son-in-law had just started at Oregon State, bent on earning a Computer Science Degree. And he turned me on to computers. I wanted one. Choices were limited, not only in size, but cost as well. I finally took a Commodore 64 home. I was in over my head from the get go, but friends and a Commodore user group kept me afloat until I discovered the BBSes.

A host of systems sprouted up overnight—Rhinoceros Kitchen, The Machine, Bill Board, Com-Line, Cloud 9. At least two dozen were within a local call radius. My favorite BBS was Dr. Rom.

Faster computers with larger storage were soon affordable. Along came the Internet. No more long distance phone bills. No more SysOps pulling the plug when my time limit was reached. The BBSes fell by the wayside. Even Dr. Rom. He sat in the garage on standby until 0001 hours, the morning of year 2000 when his plug was pulled.

Somebody had to pay for all this speed and convenience. Today, advertisements flash on and off, while others nearly crowd out the text and photos they are supporting. I yearned for the ad-free BBS days, the days when Fidonet, the worldwide group of 1500 hobbyist/enthusiasts provided email around the globe, often for the cost of one local telephone call.

This past week a friend on the west coast sent me a URL for an active BBS, a  Fidonet. WHAT?

One clue led to another and by dinner time I had unearthed 430 active BBSes, some that have remained active for 30 years.

Choices

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