I used an HP 1200bps external modem.  To connect to BBSes.  When I was in elementary school.  I remember tearing through the latest Focke's BBS list.  It was the definitive guide to DC-metro BBSes.  I'd print it out on my Okidata dot-matrix printer on fan-folded continuous feed paper with the holes on the sides.  Then I'd grab a pen or pencil, mark up some interesting BBSes, fire up Procomm and try to connect.

Oh yeah? Well, my first experience with dialing up in Jr. High was with a 300 bps modem on a C=64. I used to pour over Horst Mann's 313 area code BBS list and sneak in calls to long-distance BBSes throughout Michigan, for which I'd later pay dearly out of my allowance. :) I remember coveting my friend's hulking Tandy PC and its 1200 baud modem (nearly a full screen of text at one time when playing BBS games). Then, I bought a 2400 baud modem with an adapter, and became the envy of everyone - until they all moved up to 2400 and then 14.4K.

I'm sure someone else can give me an oh yeah, too, and we can work up a skit ala Monty Python's "We Were Poor". ("You were lucky to have a lake! There were 15 of us living in a cardboard box in the middle of the road!")

What I really miss from the BBS days, though, is the local community. Used to be that far away places were far away, and near places were near, and you had to go through the near places first before you could visit far places. So, communities formed around BBSes, even as those around be began changing into mere portals onto the internet, and then later to become fledgling dialup ISPs. Nowadays, the distance between points on the net is measured in terms of interest, attention, and affinity, without regard to physical location. It's so much harder to get together for a cup of coffee with the people behind the keyboards these days. :)


Archived Comments

  • Have you done any local meetups? I make a point of reading local weblogs, and we've gotten together fairly often. Fun!
  • You had a modem? Luxury! We had to call up BBSes and yell and interpret the tones ourselves.
  • You had a phone? We had to encode our packets on tiny pieces of paper and send them off by carrier pigeon (yes, I know this actually has been done). Seriously though, I've taken advantage of meetup too, and I think interesting things are going to start happening thanks to http://geourl.org