This story on Salon has brought back some fond memories from my early days of BBSing in the basement of my parents home.
Somewhere in the early-to-mid-eighties, my cousin Chris and I had been messing around for a number of years on our VIC20’s and Commodore64’s, learning the ins-and-outs of computers the hard way: line-by-painstaking-line… Chris was the first to take the leap forward when he bought himself an Atari 520 ST computer – and it was the bomb! We spent entire weekends staying up all night playing games like Leisure Suit Larry and Ultima IV. When Chris got his first 300 baud modem, the world of BBSing opened up before us. What a mindfuck – you could actually connect to another computer through your phone line, and send messages to other people who did the same thing! Suddenly, video games weren’t the only reason to own a computer – we could communicate with people! People we didn’t know! And these people would open up their communities to us and share information and software!
Around this time, I bought an Atari 1040 ST of my own – with 20MEG Hard Drive – the thing seemed like a bottomless pit! BBSing became an addiction. Chris even began running his own BBS: The Sword’s Blade – the most popular hangout for Atari Users in all the land. Many late nights were spent posting messages, sharing files, playing online text-based games. I even ran a small part-time BBS called The Cave – it was nothings special, but it was mine, and people visited it. BBSing was about connecting people – they were the first online communities.
What fun. So many great memories. I learned so much back then – those days laid the ground-work for everything I am doing today. It’s amazing to think about how far technology has come, but that one central purpose of connecting people is still very much alive.