Cyberpunk Review » Today in cyberpunk history: First BBS goes online.

February 17, 2010

Today in cyberpunk history: First BBS goes online.

Source: Wired, and elsewhere. login

Those of you who never experienced the days of the “command line” or “DOS prompt” may not realize the impact that the bulletin board system, or BBS, has on today’s Internet. The archive site seeks to preserve those heady, monochrome, dial-up days for old-timers to relive and for the curious to see what the net was like before GUIs. Click the image to get there.

Future calling. When Ward Christensen and Randy Suess first put their computerized bulletin board system, or CBBS, online for the first time they probably never realized how it would become a major part of the net as we know it today. The idea came to them as a result of being snowbound, they wanted to take the cork-and-tack based bulletin boards and make it electronic so others can post… well, just about anything:

(Wired) It was several decades before the hardware or the network caught up to Christensen and Suess’ imaginations, but all the basic seeds of today’s online communities were in place when the two launched the first bulletin board, dubbed CBBS for computerized bulletin board system. The two developers announced their creation to the world in the November 1978 issue of Byte magazine.

The article created a stir among hobbyists and hackers, and it wasn’t long before others begin building clones of CBBS. By the mid-1980s, BBSs supported an active community with no less than three magazines devoted to covering the latest in the proto-online world.

Primitive, but consider some of the tools today’s netizen has for similar communications: Forums (like our Virtual Meatspace), blogs (akin to posting a newsletter on those cork boards), and instant messaging, including Twitter.


The world was yours for a (modem) song. Since there was no broadband services back then, you had to program your modem (”baud,” anyone?) to dial a number to access a BBS. And when you finally were connected, you found mostly technical stuff posted there since many of the early adopters were the hacker types. But, you may have also found some ways to make free phone calls thanks to some friendly “phreakers” (phone system hackers) so you were able to call those out-of-area BBSs to find the latest news, warez, or porn (done in tasteful ASCII).


More info to download… Wired’s news piece is only a small sample of what BBSs has become. To see what the past was like, click over to and peruse the files they have there (Try searching for “cyberpunk” on their site!). Also, there’s an in-depth look at the history of BBSs in a 3 DVD set called BBS: The Documentary. I’m going to try ordering it and see about a review for you.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk History by Mr. Roboto.


February 17, 2010

Stormtrooper Of Death said:

yeah, good old memories. In the 90s, i had one of the few European Atari 8bit BBS systems running. Online from 22:00 till 07:00 each day. It worked with an 130XE, with 2 diskdrives with a total capacity of 360 Kilobytes (haha, old days). My Atari BBS had also a forum, and a very small upload directory. It was specialised in the Atari 8bit demoscene and was used internationally by demo programmers. It worked with a PR connection and a 2400 baud modem. Yeah.

ATDT = AuToDial Tone
ATDP= AuToDial Pulse
atz = reset modem

old commands (hayes compatible).

good old times.
better as the internet times of the new ages.

Stormtrooper Of Death said:

oh, i forgot to mention, the name of my old Atari BBS was


[…] Today in Cyberpunk History: First BBS Goes Online. […]

February 18, 2010

Leonard Kevin Moberg said:

This is update of my Blog.

Shadow0 said:

Crap, looks like the disappearing posts are happening again.

February 20, 2010

JeepThang said:

And the world will never be the same again.

February 24, 2010

Jade said:

Wired It has a several decades before the hardware was made.
This article was created by a stir among hobbyists and hackers, and it is not too long before others begin building clones of CBBS. thanks for sharing this to us. More power to your site God bless ;-)

February 25, 2010

Forbidden Subnet said:

Google video has a lot of this documentary available:

I am assuming this is the right one.

March 5, 2010

autopilot said:

I was just on the other day. I forget what I was looking for, but I take comfort in the fact that it’s still around.

Those days were all about Wildcat, LORD and Apogee demos.

May 20, 2010

Daci said:

Thank you.. it’s the reason I came to the site,lucy

December 30, 2011

sisaWisynum said:

This perfect web site presents a lot of practical contents. You will read here whole you should to know.

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