BBS: The Documentary

The DVD’s have started shipping for BBS (Bulletin Board System) The Documentary. I’ve read through some of the material on the site and watched the trailers for the DVD and had a flood of old memories return. I spent many (too many I’m sure) hours logged in to BBSs in the 80s and early 90s. Although I had accounts on several different systems (sometimes under the name Stilts) it was the WWIV systems that I was most fond of.

One of the great things about WWIV was getting the source code when you registered the software. This lead to an absolute flood of hacks, tweaks and mods to WWIV by other sysops of WWIV systems. WWIV mods was something of a cottage industry back then. I remember staying up late at night working on WWIV mods with friends and then releasing them out in to the wild. I remember seeing my first 14.4k modem and thinking that I’ll never be able to have at more than $500 each. Talk about a different time. (insert reminiscing sigh here)

I can still remember the thrill of discovering HS/Link (High Speed Link) and the ability to upload and download, AT THE SAME TIME! Sure, laugh, but at the time that was a big deal. On top of that HS/Link had another cool feature that let you chat while downloading, assuming the sysop was around at the time. Sure X, Y and Z modem (and Kermit) were all great, but HS/Link just fascinated me. Of course it probably helped that I’d found a flaw in it that allowed you to start a download only transfer and then start an upload that wasn’t probably controlled by the receiving BBS, so you could upload and even over write a file any where on the BBS systems hard drive. Many of these ran on MS-DOS so it would have been pretty easy to take over the system by uploading a hacked up (or even a hacked up copy of 4DOS) to the BBS system. This flaw was fixed in later versions of HS/Link and even though I never used it to do any damage, the discovery process was thrilling.

Today we have massive multi-player games, back then they were simply doors on BBS systems, like Trade Wars.

Strange that I’m getting old enough (just turned 32 on the 21st of May) to long for the old days. Just not the systems we used in the old days, I don’t know if I could carry around that 12 pound 286 “notebook” that I had back then.

Oh, I forgot to mention that WWIV is still around and was released as open source in September 2004. It is even up as a Source Forge project. Some where along the way it went from C to C++. I never dealt with the Pascal version of WWIV, let alone when it was written in Basic.