Issue #20 (April 1983)
I recently became the "proud" owner of a modem for my computer, and began the inevitable "what else is it good for" quest. The results were well worth the small fortune that Ma Bell took as a toll for my learning. Bulletin boards! Bulletin boards are an electronic version of just what the name implies.
[quoteright]What good is a bulletin board? Well, (a scratching of the chin and a faraway look is appropriate here) not much really, unless you are interested in gaining additional software for your computer, learning more about it, buying or selling anything, organizing something, meeting others, or whatever. That "whatever" includes bulletin boards that cover the gamut from religious purposes to "Kinky Kumputer." That's right, Kinky Kumputer deals in gay and hetero topics, from meetings (orgies?) to men and women looking for straight dates.
What are some of the things you are likely to find on the bulletin boards? I dialed in to several and took a "scientific" survey, the last 5 messages from each of them. On one I found out how to patch CP/M to override the "MOVCPM" problem with differing serial numbers, someone was selling a short-wave receiver for $95.00, someone else asked for a catalog of software, someone announced the existence of a publication dedicated to bulletin boards, and someone was selling hard disk drives for $200.00 each.
On another someone asked about getting into a UNIX account on a large computer installation, somebody asked for help with their 1200 baud modem, someone offered help with a bug in an ATARI, and Apple's new Lisa was announced (3 weeks before Apple did)!
On the next bulletin board I was invited to join a swingers party, told how large one gay fellow's organ was, what the best lubrication was for those of "Greek" persuasion, how badly some young lady wanted some "oral work" done, and how much one person (a male) wanted to suck my (ahem!) "male part".
On the last bulletin board someone asked about unprotecting Mbasic "P" files, another person had a modem for sale, a "lonely soul" asked about the whereabouts of someone else, and several conversations seemed incredibly dull.
So what good is it? Well, to some this will all seem incredibly dull. But, if you are in the group that enjoys technology, or buying or selling, or computers (software or hardware) or sex (dare I say hardware, firmware or software), then a computer or terminal and a modem could open another world for you.
If you are interested in trying your luck, here are some things that will help you on your way:
- A "?" or an "H" will generally get you the help menu. This will give you a list of what you can do at this level.
- A "P" will generally get you into the public bulletin board for messages.
- A control "K" or control "X" will generally abort the current function and return you to the command level.
- An "S" will print a summary of the current messages on the system, and an "R" will allow you to read them.
I have included a list of just a few of the bulletin boards in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is not complete, and may not be up to date, (can't afford to call them all!) but it is a starting point from which you can try your luck in this technotomic fantasyland. If you are in a different part of the country (or world), a call to one of these and the proper command will get you a list of the BBS systems in your area.
Net-works Computer Emporium, San Jose, Ca
PMS - Santa Cruz, Ca
Atari GRAFEX BBS, Cupertino, Ca
Bullet-80, Cupertino, Ca
Cro's Nest, Sunnyvale, Ca
OxGate-004, Sunnyvale, Ca
Rainbow Color Computer BBS, Sunnyvale, Ca
Stuart, Sunnyvale, Ca
OxGate-00l, Saratoga, Ca
ABBS Computerland, Frenont, Ca
ABBS PCNET, San Francisco, Ca
BBS Living Videotest, Menlo Park, Ca
CONFERENCE-TREE #1, Berkeley CA
ABBS Apple Core, San Francisco, Ca
Oasis BBS, San Francisco, CA
ABBS South of Market, San Francisco, Ca
CBBS LAMBDA, Berkeley, Ca
HMS Horny Message 'stem, Oakland, Ca
Kinky Kumputer, San Francisco, Ca
Programmer and all-around computer guru TONY DOWDEN hangs out in Silicon Valley with his five computers. At one point he owned the longest Rolls Royce in America. Other than that, he is your typical American apple-pie hacker.