Back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s BBS’s, or Bulletin Board Sytems as they were known were all the rage, especially before the Internet was made available to the public. Think of BBS’s as precursor to the Internet: Social gatherings of people getting together in a digital forum to share ideas, play games, have arguments and flame wars. You could send messages, download files, play multiplayer games. At their peak most big cities had lots of BBS’s you could choose from and dial into with different themes.

In order to dial into a BBS back in those days all you needed was a Computer (Such as an Atari, Amiga/Commodore, IBM PC, etc) and a modem. A modem is an acronym for MODulator/DEModulator which encodes your computer’s digital bits into an analog waveform that could be transmitted over the phone lines of the day (POTS/PSTN) using encoding such as PCM.

You would simply obtain the phone number and set your favorite terminal software up to dial the number, the computer did the rest and you were online and BBSing.

Most of what I used were direct connect modems that would accept an RJ-11 jack directly from the wall or a splitter. Some of the older computers of the day used a coupler modem that worked with the older telephones. One of these was used and can be seen in the popular movie Wargames. In this situatio you would dial the phone number of the bbs, then when you heard the modem tone on the other end you would simply place the handset into the modem cradle to couple the mouthpiece and earpiece physically.

Fast forward to the 2020’s and now you have a variety of old and new hobby BBS’s running on the internet using a combination of old and new technology to relive the old experience.

If you’d like to see an old BBS in action, you can connect to my Synchronet BBS running on a Rasperry PI Linux computer at BBS.WANTIT.NET. Simply point your favorite IP Terminal or Telnet client to that address on port 23 (telnet) and feel free to log in and relive the old days.