I started BBSing in the late 80’s early 90s and run a BBS myself out of my home in St Kilda, Australia. While I only had one phone line, it was often quite busy with folks logging on mainly to exchange software. Shareware and Public Domain software was very popular and BBSes were the places to get it.
My computer shared the phone line with my voice callers, and if anybody wanted to ring me (voice), they had to let the phone ring twice, hang up and ring again. My BBS was programmed to ignore the second call within 10s and if I wasn’t there my answering machine would get it. It was great, no telemarketing calls in those days!
I did join FidoNet (3:632/509) and my friends were impressed that they could write a message, and another person anywhere in the world would reply within a few days. I also became a network hub for another network that I cannot remember now - and I recall my computer calling a Sydney BBS at 2am every morning to exchange echomail and netmail. Ahh, the phone bills just to be a sysop.
How things have changed….
I recently discovered my BBS backups from those days and I was (and still am) keen to see if I can get it running again.
In the meantime, I did a quick google around for BBS software and BBSes in general and was amazed to see the number of people still running BBSes. Reading through the echomail recently, it is also amazing to see the number of folks coming back and setting up a BBS - some for old time sake, some to connect with friends in an environment that is not affected by hackers and SPAM.
Running a BBS is fairly easy to do these days - no need to worry about modems, fossil drivers etc, and if you get stuck a forum or email gets you help. In fact you can log into somebody else’s BBS to get help, since they are now reachable via telnet (and no phone costs). There is an abundance of software out there and many people are eager to help.
As such my Raspberry Pi that was sitting in my office gathering dust has been powered up and is now running Chinwag. Its probably more powerful than the computer that I had in the 90’s!
I’ve installed Raspbian, Docker and both Mystic BBS and MBSE BBS. MBSE is my main mail hub, I like it because its written in C and operates more like a Linux BBS application. (I’m a long time Linuxer.) I also like Mystic BBS, the UI is really easy to use, it has nicer navigation and a better editor (IMHO). As I’m still re-learning the art of BBSing, I’ll explore other modern legacy(!) BBS software.
The cost of a Raspberry Pi is about AUD $70 (Pi, Case and SD card) and makes a perfect BBS.
Your welcome to login and have a play, and even send a message or few. And if you are interested in setting up a similar system, you can follow my posts on how to get started. First, you need to install Raspbian.