BBS or another internet forgotten by the world…

Hello everyone. This is my first blog, so I hope you enjoy it. I tried with all my strength to describe the given issue as accurately as possible and bring the topic of BBS as close as possible. however, if I made a mistake somewhere, I missed something, or you have a different view of it, then I would be grateful if you let me know in the comment. I also encourage everyone to discuss. I'd love to hear your opinion.

As usual, while searching the meanders of the Internet, I found a document about the Bulletin Board System (I will put the link in the sources, at the very end of this material for those interested). I encountered this concept myself much earlier, but only now have I decided to focus on this topic. Especially since as long as I can remember, I am a supporter of old / outdated technologies and I like to delve into the past to absorb their atmosphere, get to know and experience history and culture in my own way, which will be completely forgotten over the next several dozen years, just like the people who created it (yes, I just love to hear about phreaking, but more on that later). Coming back to the merits, it all started with the search for an interesting document which I could make an evening after a hard and busy day. This is how I found the above-mentioned video, which inspired me to create this blog and consider it. At this point, it is worth telling a bit more about this service because not everyone could hear about this now quite archaic technology which, unfortunately, is in an advanced state of decay at the moment. Especially the present young generation that enjoys all technological benefits, not realizing that in the distant times where there was no Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook (or Meta, delete unnecessary) people functioned completely differently in "cyberspace". But is there such a colossal gulf between us in this aspect? I think there will be as many differences and similarities in this matter.

BBS is a computer service consisting in making available on the owner's machine a place where other users, connecting via modem and network protocols such as telnet or later ssh, could post and read advertisements, operate their own mailbox, transfer files, chat with other users scattered all over the world or play text games (the so-called doors game) or even run something similar to a teleconference. The creation and distribution of bbs dates back to the end of the seventies and the first such system is considered to be the Chicago Bulletin Board Systems(CBBS) created by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess on February 18, 1978 (by the way, it is worth mentioning that it was also the first "dial-up" BBB'S in the world, at the moment, access to this service takes place in a slightly different way due to significant changes in telecommunications systems and the dynamic development of the Internet). Most of these systems could communicate with other bbs, which gave an unprecedented ability to transfer data around the world (so it is not surprising that most of the bbs users later called him the "grandfather" of the internet at that time. today's internet forums or very limited discord servers. But that's just my loose association). One of the characteristic features of this service was the fact that the servers were not constantly connected to each other and used the system of cyclical resource synchronization with other servers (so-called nodes). This was due to the fact that until the late 90s the connection to the Internet was via modems connected to the public switched telephone network (PSNT) and not, as now, using packet networks (TCP / IP), which was a very extensive solution at that time, the tariff system was based on the duration of the connection and not the amount of data transferred, as is the case today. Maintaining constant connection with the server in those days would have to cost quite a fortune due to the high prices of the connection at the time. On the basis of parts from bbs, in 1982, the Fidonet network was created, within which advertisements from newsgroups were exchanged, similar to Usenet. At the peak of its popularity, BBS gathered around it thousands and not millions of users from all over the globe, who every day actively used its resources and invariably do it today with the difference that in much smaller numbers.

After the screening, I started to wonder if any of this technology, forgotten by god and people, has survived to this day. Initially, I assumed that I would find a small handful of enthusiasts who keep their nodes only and exclusively out of sentiment to the "good old times" or servers that constitute a museum, a real time capsule with a record of the history of a bygone era (which in fact is the case, one of many examples will be bbs which is inactive but still running bbs phreaking server. I recommend visiting this place). So I did a simple search on the Internet and I was surprised to find that this branch of technology has a strong, still thriving community and there are thousands of working servers in the world with various topics and applications (some can be accessed via a dial-in connection via a VoIP modem). Some are run on machines with VAX / VMS or Amiga or Atari via emulation. I think that's a nice flavor and a nod to "old-time" people). Some of them have been continuing their activities uninterruptedly since the 1980s / 90s, and some, quite new ones, were created in the third millennium of our era (i.e. in the 2000s). This suggests that, in spite of the fact that this communication system is being replaced by new technologies, it does not mean that it has no application in today's world. It is worth paying attention, for example, to the use of OPSEC. The advantage of these systems is the fact that their resources are not indexed by web robots and search engines and their low popularity, which in most cases means that they are not subject to observation by law enforcement agencies. . This creates new, interesting possibilities, but their application does not end there, basically everything depends on your invention (another example? Three words … an alternative and anonymous form of communication. Okay, I know, four words and a conjunction. After all, you should be perfect. know what I mean).

The first thing that catches the eye of everyone who comes into contact with "tables" (to make it easier in the following text, I will call individual bbs servers) and what captivated me and amazed me the most is their amazing graphic design based on ANSI / ASCII which is an undeniably unusual form of digital art and I pay tribute to the people who create this unique scene (if you are not convinced, you will find a link to the archive of these works of art in the sources, I think you will change your mind after visiting that place). The artistic setting of some boards boldly matches the design of many modern websites with their aesthetics, apart from the fact that these are two different services and that all these fantastic things happen directly in the window of our terminal, not the browser. Many of them will be mentioned here, I will try to mention a few: bandits-hideout,, sixty-four-vintage-bbs, 8bit-saturday-night, alcabbs, positronic-brain, abacus-bbs, bbs. (the latter was actually the first one I visited during my adventure with bbs and while collecting materials for this blog. It's an interesting community oriented in the subject of cybersecurity, hacking and ctf. In addition, the amazing visual setting of interesting files and materials deserves praise. for IT certification. Additionally, its creators are involved in HackerFest. A link to their website is provided in the source for anyone who would like to explore this topic).

Another thing that can be noticed is the sometimes overwhelming number of thematic groups available. I am aware that for the "old stagers" of Usenet or Fidonet it will not be anything new or a reason to be delighted. However, for people who have not had contact with it or like me, who occasionally used such resources, it may be a real surprise. You can talk on many topics ranging from various areas of IT (certification in IT, groups devoted to archaic firmware / software, new and old OS, programming and anything else you can think of) to any lifestyle, news, humor group, chat -room dedicated to the text game (which is an integral part of bbs, but more on that in a moment). It's really hard to mention them all, and even if I tried, this blog could boldly aspire to the title of a book, so I encourage you to check all its possibilities yourself.

However, bbs are not only thematic groups and chat rooms. Most of them also run catalogs with various types of content and software. You can think of it as a public repository where anyone can upload their files and share them with others. If you are looking for some really old program that has no trace left, I strongly recommend you to search on bbs servers. I'm sure you'll find them there. In addition, there you will find references to other sites related to bbs, other tables and many other valuable resources such as for example FTP servers containing archival (and sometimes not available anywhere else) editions of computer magazines from the 80's or 90's along with the software that was added to them back then on floppy disks c on cd. This is just a drop in the ocean of content that can be found there.

Another important element that is worth paying attention to are the aforementioned doors game. These are text-based games written with bbs in mind, having the ability to easily interact with other server users. The implementation of the "multiplayer" aspects of the game (such as leaving signatures or clues by players in books found while exploring the game world or conversations in taverns, where we could have conversations with other users) made the game not only more interactive but increased the player's involvement in the game itself . It is true that they are not characterized by next-get graphics, graceful audio setting and advanced mechanics that we know well from today's games, but in terms of the plot, narrative and immersion they do not differ much from today's titles and I could say that in this field they can be on an equal footing with them compete. If, like me, you like reading books and have an exaggerated imagination, door games are just for you. To increase the feeling of the game, I recommend playing some atmospheric YouToube compilation on the headphones. This will increase the already considerable sensations and allow you to delve into their extraordinary world even more. Hours of addictive gameplay guaranteed.

Staying on the topic of games, let me recommend a game by Damned Software called Darkness. Set in a futuristic world, by the creators referred to as "cyberpunk with an admixture of humor and sarcasm" with which I agree, adding that there is a lot of references to the world of cyberpunk and pop culture. The game was created in 1998 and was updated until 2020. You can play it on the board or download it from the authors' website and run on your own bbs or local machine (however the version on the manufacturer's website will be definitely more up-to-date, running it locally will deprive you of us a few functionalities related to bbs, such as, for example, fighting with other players or gangs introduced in the current version). In the sources I will put a link to the creators' website.

To tell you the truth, in this post I just "touched" the topic of bbs. I feel that there is much more to be said, however, this entry would become much more extensive. Therefore, everyone is keenly interested in this topic to explore it. I can assure you that it will not be wasted time. The amount and diversity of the content contained therein means that practically everyone will find something for themselves. In addition, friendly comunity, well-written games where you can spend a lot of time are just a few of their advantages. My impressions from the contact with this technology are very positive despite the fact that by today's technological standards it is quite outdated. For me, this point of view is wrong, and I believe that no matter what, this standard applies to the modern world. We must bear in mind that due to its age, in some cases this technology may be much less responsive than currently used. This is, among others, because some of bbs are run under the control of quite archaic computers and operating systems (some work with emulation, which may also cause delays in the responsiveness of programs). However, if we put it aside and under certain circumstances show a little bit of patience then bbs can actually have many more uses than just "teletext" when compared to the possibilities of the internet today.