Tag Archives: BBS

Ham Radio, the old school BBS, Echomail and How the Past can be part of the Future

Ham Radio, the old school BBS, Echomail and How the Past can be part of the Future

I am going to guess that if you are less than a certain age in terms of how long you have been on the internet, that you may be the most comfortable with using a browser to access remote content?

A lot of us won’t even remember that there is much more to the WWW (World Wide Web) than http and https, or that these are HyperText Transfer Protocol (Secure). (See: https://infogalactic.com/info/Hypertext_Transfer_Protocol and https://infogalactic.com/info/HTTPS )

Unless we have something techy in our background we might be a bit sketchy on what is telnet ( https://infogalactic.com/info/Telnet) or ssh (https://infogalactic.com/info/Secure_Shell) – or even if you are using a windows machine how to get a command window open ( or all the way you can get to on – see https://www.digitalcitizen.life/open-cmd/ ).

Facing screens with increasing higher resolution, depth of colors and features we may not always remember ANSI displays and ASCII limited character sets for screen “art” ( https://infogalactic.com/info/ASCII , https://infogalactic.com/info/ASCII_art and https://infogalactic.com/info/ANSI_art )

Or before we had Groups.io, Yahoo Groups, or Reflectors, how we used the EchoMail part of FidoNet (https://infogalactic.com/info/FidoNet#Echomail and https://infogalactic.com/info/FidoNet ) to share information across the country and around the world.

Perhaps you haven’t heard the squeal of a modem navigating a connection https://youtu.be/ckc6XSSh52w?t=36 – – back in the day mine was USRobotic Courier HST v34 (https://infogalactic.com/info/USRobotics)

Back in day I ran a FidoNet node 1:154/110 and node 1:154/154, shutting them down thirty years ago in 1991. The exact start is a bit hazy, as I had been running variants from England since 1986 and had first experimented as a private node and point stateside from 1988 on. Officially I had a public facing FidoNet system running Opus-CBCS from 1989 to 1991.

Then a series of house moves, an expanding family and my own planes filled up my time. I had also had my fill of BBS trolls who basically polluted the BBS every time the snuck on, thinking it funny to be juvenile uploading nasty pictures and pirate software, or calling everyone bad names in every forum they found a way to access. With the way officialdom was cracking down by holding system operators (Sysops) responsible, I wasn’t having it. So “SPOT BBS” (Node lists said “Spot, Up the Road” but the board itself said SPOT BBS) was shut down.

One of the worst trolls has since passed on, a couple years back. I was surprised to read in his obituary that he had found religion and really gotten right with the people is his world. A good reminder to never ever give up on people.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane – Telnet into Ham Radio BBS

If you are of a certain age you will remember logging into BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) through dial-up modems.  During part of the of early BBS period I was stationed, in school or working overseas, so I would both do local BBS logins and carefully watching my pennies make quick connections from wherever I happened to be.

For a longtime I dragged around a Columbia VP Portable computer which I had hot-rodded with a better processor, loaded with memory including expansion “high” memory, and added storage.  I had a huge stepdown transformer to tame the usual local 250vac-230-vac down to what the Columbia VP could work with.  Old Computers has a page about this early “luggable” portable:   https://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=889  

Columbia VP vintage 1983 – picture from eBay

My graduate thesis was done on this machine, with stacks of 5-1/4 floppys because you **never** depended on the hard disk without a backup or two.

But when I wasn’t working on school or business work, I would look at various BBS for anything I could learn.

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