Last night I went to the new Princeton Library to see bits of “BBS: The Documentary” and meet the director with Ed and another member of LUG/IP. It made me think of how things were back in the days before the internet became a big thing.
I remember the day I talked to my wife about starting my own bulletin board. We were living in Princeton in an apartment over my godparent’s kitchen. We had a living room, bedroom, bathroom and a room in the attic. We shared the kitchen with my godparents, Our main food was take out pizza. We didn’t have a lot of money and we were expecting our daughter. I had checked out a lot of software and other BBSes in the area and had decided to use the Wildcat! a product from Mustang. It was a well thought out program and a had a lot of good sysop tools. The problem was it was a good amount of money for a guy making $13hr and had a baby on the way. The first computer for the BBS was a 386sx with a 40 meg hard drive and a 2400 baud modem….can you say slow. I purchased the Single Line version of Wildcat! and turned on the “It’s All Rock ‘N Roll BBS” at 609-252-0260 in the fall of 1993. We offered all the popular door games as well as message boards. The BBS was a member of Fidonet (node 1:107/370 ), Wildnet, CollNet, Tekkernet, and Throbnet. I tried to offer a lot of files for D/L and I also offered adult material but the person had to send me proof of age in the mail. The big upgrade for the BBS in Princeton was taking the winnings I got from Atlantic City when my wife and I went on our honeymoon and buying a Zoom 9600 baud modem….a little faster…
I ran the BBS for a year in Princeton and then we moved to Trenton and the board’s number changed to 609-695-9319 and my Fidonet number changed to node: 1:266/155. I also changed to the multi-node version of Wildcat and added a Novell server and 2-1 GB SCSI drives. I ran the wildcat software off of a 486 machine with 16 megs of ram and a used 14.4K baud modem and OS/2 as the operating system. With the multi-line version of Wildcat! I was able to interact with the BBS from my desk in the living room instead of having to go to the basement where the server and main node of the bbs were. On August 9th, 1994 (2 days before my wedding anniversary…my wife was so proud..not) I started offering Internet E-mail with the Domain Name rocknroll.com, I was one of the first BBS in the Central NJ area to offer internet E-mail and access to UseNet newsgroups as well as owning a domain name. The board stayed up till late 2000 when I decided that cost of the phone line was draining my pocket of much-needed fun money and I was just tired of the work that went into it or I just grew up. Also, the World Wide Web came along and there was more to see and more to do, call volume dropped and the world moved on. I had a lot of fun doing it and I met a lot of people online, it was a community when you were on a good board. Today the internet is more one-sided not as much a community more of little fish in a big pond. I actually have the whole BBS zipped into one big file….some day I will unzip and fire up a machine and take a tour down memory lane. 🙂
The movie last night hit a few spots of nostalgia. I recommend downloading it (it was released under the creative commons license so it’s legal to download) and enjoying the interviews with sysops and users of the BBSes around the world.
More to come on this subject at a later date I am sure……If you were a user of It’s All Rock ‘N Roll send me a message. Also, check out bbsmates for other BBS you might have visited.