Because Internet was still small and inaccessible to most PC users, users had to dial CBBS number directly using a modem. And because CBBS hardware and software supported only one modem for most of its existence, users had to take turns accessing the network. The system each hung when it was done to allow someone else to gain access. Despite these limitations, the system was considered useful, worked for many years, and inspired many other bulletin board systems.
Winter in Chicago is snow, and a lot of snow. Ward Christensen, a mainframe programmer and home computer lover, is stuck in snowdrifts at home too thick to dig. He had a habit of exchanging programs with Randy Suess, a fellow hacker - in the old sense, someone who did smart things with dumb electronics - recording them on cassettes and posting them. They invented hardware and software to do this, but in the same cold year of 1978, someone named Bill Hayes came up with a nifty circuit called Hayes MicroModem 100. Ward called Randy, complained about the weather, and said he would not. It would make sense to have a computer on the telephone line where people could leave messages. I'll take care of equipment. When will software be ready? Randy said.
Telephone line data transmission preceded both ARPANET and BBS. Modem, short for Modulator-Demodulator, converts digital information into an analog carrier signal that can be carried over telephone lines. At the other end, modem receives the carrier signal and demodulates it into digital information that can be processed by a computer. The first modems were introduced during World War II to transmit data from punched cards. The first commercially available modem was Bell 101 dataset introduced in 1958. Bell 101 allowed data to be transmitted at 110 baud. It was based on a 1954 modem that Bell designed exclusively for use with SAGE military ground control system. In 1962, 103a data set appeared, which allowed data to be transmitted at 300 baud. The baud unit was named after Emile Baudot and was the number of bits per second that a modem could transmit. 300 baud remained standard for the next 20 years.
A computer and related software that typically provides a database of electronic messages where people can log in and leave messages. Posts are divided into topic groups, similar to Usenet newsgroups, similar to a distributed BBS. Any user can send or read any message in these public places. The term comes from physical parts of the board where people can stick messages written on paper for general use - a physical bulletin board. Ward Christensen, programmer and operator of the first BBS on the web on February 16, 1978, named it CBBS for the computer bulletin board.
In addition to public message areas, BBS may provide file archives, personal email. and any other services or activities of interest to the bulletin board operator. Thousands of local BBSs operate worldwide, run by hobbyists for outdoor entertainment on MS-DOS boxes with one modem line each. While BBSs have traditionally been the preserve of hobbyists, an increasing BBSs number are connected directly to Internet, and many BBSs are now run by government, educational, and research institutions. Fans of Usenet and Internet, or large commercial time-sharing platforms such as CompuServe, CIX, and GEnie, tend to think of local BBSs as a low-rent neighborhood of hacker culture, but they serve an important function by bringing many hackers and users together into a cohesive whole. a personal microcosm that otherwise could not exchange code at all.
The use of this term for a Usenet newsgroup usually marks a person either as a newcomer fresh from BBS world, or as a true old-timer who predated Usenet.
The forerunner of community bulletin board system was Community Memory, launched in August 1973 in Berkeley, California. Useful microcomputers did not exist then, and modems were expensive and slow. Thus, community memory ran on the mainframe and was accessed through terminals located in several areas of San Francisco Bay Area. The poor quality of original modem connecting terminals to the mainframe prompted Community Memory hardware specialist Lee Felsenstein to invent Pennywhistle modem, whose design was highly influential in the mid-1970s.
While most of US used this year Snowmageddon to watch streaming TV or tweet selfies with snowmen in 2022, take a moment to remember Great Blizzard of 1978 that led to the first bulletin board service, BBS, to hit the phone. lines 44 years ago. Those who are faced with the seemingly endless storage and server capacity of the cloud, and the connectivity afforded by Internet, are probably scratching their heads over the term BBS. Before the Internet, enthusiasts looking to share files, read news and messages, send messages, or chat with each other would take out their acoustic modem and connect to a computer running BBS software. These computers are servers in today parlance can serve as many users as there are telephone lines that can be connected. Of course, this hack may recall the annoyance of trying to connect and listen to interested tone when other eager nerds filled BBS virtual rooms debating how to get their hands on illegal VHS tapes.
Some sort of BBS systems circulated in the form of mainframe software in the 1970s, but on February 16, 1978, Chicago technicians Ward Christensen and Randy Suess jump-started the enthusiasts by launching very first BBS. In an interview with Byte, the duo explained that it took the project 30 days to assemble the assembler in a box with an Intel 8080 processor and 24 KB of RAM. A mockup of the system was built using MITS 8K BASIC within the first week, and the couple had people call the system to critically analyze it. Once Suess and Christensen were happy with how things looked, the program was rewritten in assembly language to take advantage of the speed and efficiency of resulting binaries. Storage was on floppy disks, with CP M providing the disk operating system. With 240 KB of disk space at the time and a directory capable of keeping track of 64 files, team aimed to keep 200 to 300 active messages on the system at a time.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, an entire industry arose around BBS systems, fueled by fast, cheap modems. As speed has increased, clean terminal displays have been replaced by much more user-friendly interfaces. Operators have found ways to monetize systems by charging for services such as file downloads. It wasn't for long. The same modems that gave users access to BBS systems were used for dial-up Internet connections. By the mid-1990s, connectivity and browser applications used to navigate the World Wide Web were made for BBS industry. While a few BBS systems have survived to this day and are run by enthusiastic sysops, connecting requires some determination on the part of users.