My involvement with computers began while I was in the US Army in 1985. I was stationed in South Korea at the time and the tactical operations center where I worked had an IBM XT computer with 64k of RAM, no hard drive, two 5.25″ floppy drives and a green screen monitor. The duty NCO and myself when we worked the night shift would get on it and try to learn to program simple games in BASIC that we found in Compute Magazine. It was quite addictive.
After I left the Army I went and lived with my dad for a while in Missouri. He had a computer pretty much identical to the one I used in South Korea. This fueled my interest further. In 1990 I ended up getting my own place and decided to buy my own newer computer. It was a Packard Bell 486DX with a whopping 16MB of RAM, 5.25″ and 3.5″ floppy drives, no hard drive, and an EGA monitor. That was a pretty decent machine back then. Cost me $500. A bargain!
I toyed around with it, learning the hardware and software configurations of it and not long after purchased a 2400 baud modem to connect to an online service called Prodigy. It was slow, but unique. Getting information on my computer that had initially only been used to program and play simple games. I switched to CompuServe for a while, and even tried this service called “America Online.” 🙂 It was while I was on America Online that I discovered this thing called a BBS that would allow me to talk with people through the computer, share software, play online games, and become part of more local and accessible community. I was hooked.
In the St. Louis area where I lived there were a LOT of BBS’s. There was a list out called “Fire Escape’s 314 BBS List” that listed all the boards within the 314 area code (you have to remember, back then there were no cell phones and calling someone outside of your area code cost you). I tried quite a few and eventually wound up on a system running DLX BBS software called “Affinity.” This was a VERY active, multi-line board which meant you could talk to multiple people at once. I ended meeting so many people there (including my second wife as well as my now life long best friend), hung out in real life with them, partied, interacted in both the real world and online. It consumed my non working hours.
I decided that I wanted to test the BBS waters and become a “sysop” and start my own board. That first board was called “L00ney T00nes BBS” and my handle then was “Elmer Fudd”. It started as a single line, WWIV BBS board running on my 486 and 2400 modem. I upgraded and purchased a 14.4k modem which was top of the line at the time and bought a second phone line to go multi-line.
I learned so much about computers, networking, hardware, programming, etc from my days as a sysop that it became my career choice. I worked for TCI Cable during that time and when the concept of “broadband” came along I was at the forefront of learning and deploying it. I switch from being a service technician to became a data specialist, using my self acquired computer knowledge to get the position. This was 1998. Fast forward to the present. I am now an IT Systems Analyst for the USDA. My oldest son (his mother that I met on a BBS) was surrounded by technology from his birth to the present and now is a Linux devop. He has more technology knowledge than I ever had, and I had a lot.
So, this long mid-life story leads me up to today. I have come full-circle and have started this BBS out of my love for what it did for my life. I have to admit,. while modern technology is wonderful, some things (like social media, corporate privacy invasion, identity theft, etc) has made me appreciate the BBS more. Instead of a worldwide (while a modern BBS can be worldwide) system that inundates you with millions of people, ideas and views, it’s refreshing to slow down and invest in a smaller, like-minded, community that isn’t owned by a huge corporation with no concern for me at all. A BBS can be personal, life changing, and life enhancing in ways modern social media cannot.
Thanks for reading, hopefully, you’ll join me in the new-old adventure that is BBS!