The BBS Is Back – Let’s Party Like It’s 1999

The BBS Is Back – Let’s Party Like It’s 1999

Before the web and the widespread use of the Internet, computer users shared programs, news and other information over Bulletin Board Services. Those of us with a few grey hairs will remember connecting to remote computers using point-to-point connections using modems – I started with a 9600 baud modem before moving eventually getting a 56K screamer that let me download a 4MB program before my 60 minute time limit for guests ended. Well, the BBS is back.

I guess BBSes are to computer users what vinyl records are to music enthusiasts. While the experience was spartan because data speeds were very limited, everything was terminal driven and the operating costs were pretty high – all those phone lines cost money, they were a relatively easy way to get your hands on the latest software.

For me, there were a handful of BBS I connected to – the Melbourne PC User Group was the main one – but over time the web took over, after a brief interlude with Gopher, and BBS operations shut down.

A story over at Ars Technica designed how a number of old sysops are resurrecting their systems. I love that old systems like the Apple IIe and a Commodore 128DCR are getting a new life.

The beauty of the new/old systems is how they combine old hardware with the Raspberry Pi to link the old systems to bridge the divide between using a phone and employing the Internet.

So, raise a glass to the BBS , log in and party like it’s 1999.


  • The culture that arose round some of the bigger ones would make a good article. Get 50 to 100 geeks nerds and social outcasts together who are comfortable with that group, often for the first time in their life, share common interests and head out to party en-mass was an amazing thing to see and be a part of. Society in general picked on geeky people in the 90s, bullying was routine. With the distance of text communication it broke down a lot of barriers, there was a big mix of age, gender, race, everything.

  • Oh man, I remember dialling into several BBS. I also remember the huge phone bill because they were ALL long distance calls. I think I’ll stick with the Internet. ;p

  • I started with a 9600 baud modem…HA! Youngsters these days!

    My 1st modem was 2400 baud and was powered by 3 hamsters running in wheel.

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