Think back further to Telegard and WWIV. That's where BBSing's real ancenstry lay (there was also Maximus, WorldGroup and that shitty RIP-based system which actually foreshadowed the coming of the Internet, but IMO they didn't hold the same kind of "community" as Telegard brought out.)
IIRC, WWIV was just slightly before my BBS time: when I hit the scene everyone was running Telegard 2.5something (I know for sure it was at 2.5i but not sure if I came in at 2.5g or before ). WWIV allowed you to pay for the source under condition that you didn't screw him with it. I guess that the makers of Telegard did. :-)
Also IIRC, WWIV was written in C, but Telegard was done in Pascal. Renegade was cloned from Telegard but done in C. IMO, Renegade was always the "lame-ass clone of TG" :-)
Hell I still remember the rainbow-coloured "waiting for caller" screen in TG. I remember tweaking with DesqView so I could still do other things with the BBS running in the background. I remember painstakingly configuring the message boards and file areas. Tweaking colour combinations and animation macros. Creating "high speed" (9600+) and "low speed" (2400) menus, in both colour and monochrome. I also remember trying my hand at ANSI (not just ASCII) art -- google turns up a few good repositories but aside from the ASCII art we have reverted to now for the warez pups, it's all but dead.). I believe there was a company called TheSoft which created an ANSI art/animation program called TheDraw. It's this total configurability that I offer as an explanation to why I consider Telegard the granddaddy of BBSing and not some of the more "generalized" software packages.
When I did all of this I didn't have a separate phone line and I had no real users, but the thrill of running a server was incredible. It's something I've not forgotten even today where I have my own web and mail servers.
<floaty dream sequence> Later on I wrote two RG utilities: FileMan and MsgMan. Both ran through their respective areas (file and messages) and modified the user's FP based on what they'd done. FileMan was a little more powerful: It had a cron-like feature where you could modify the file directories based on date and time. Hence, on one of the last board I frequented (New Gold Dream BBS) the Ops had launched the super-popular Triple Point Tuesdays and Free File Fridays. :-)
The absolute best BBS I was ever on though was Ice-9. (519) 888-0085. That number is still in my head after so many years. So many years of busies, 2400 baud connects and endless hours in the message boards flaming <<<< #1 THE ENFORCER #1 >>>> and waiting all night for the latest texts and programs came down from the file areas. Helix McFadden was the SysOp and Straw Man, Sl (insert ae symbol here) sh and me (tzanger) were co-ops. Helix ran the leetest board there was, when l33t speak was just starting. Ice-9 was the shit; we were leet and we knew it. Near the end it went private because there were just too many lamers getting in and ruining it, much the same as the trolls on slashdot.
BBSes definately shaped my future. My "place" in BBSing usually rested in the message boards for coding help (giving and taking) and in cracking the registration codes for the door programs so everyone else could play whatever OLGs were popular at the time. :-) Various blogs have filled the gaps since but there is just something more communal about having a geographically-close bunch of people that the Internet is going to have trouble replacing.
When Ice-9 closed its doors, New Gold Dream (579 something IIRC, the eventually got another line and perhaps a third) became my new haven. Papa Bear Zalapski, Lightning and the sysop (I can't remember his alias now, damnit) ran a BBS so vastly different from Ice-9 it was scary in comparison. Family/community oriented, friendly and "warm", it quickly became the most popular BBS in the Kitchener/Waterloo (Ontario) region. Ice-9 was l33t, opinionated and "cold", but it had things that nobody else offered and its crew and members were the warlords of the BBS world. (Kind of lame in hindsight but when you're 12 it's awesome)
Why am I writing all of this? Memories. Flooding my brain right now. BBSes are something I will always miss deeply for the community, and never regret leaving because of the single (or very few multi-) user capability, slow speeds and single-tasking environment.
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