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The original bulletin board systems, ahh. The hangout of girl-friendless nerds of the 1980’s and 90’s. The beginings of online communities with messaging and games, software downloads and and self-support programming forums. A new experience for those adults who grew up only dreaming they could have thier own computer. Most of the BBS systems of the day were PC based using only one modem on the alternate telephone line available in most residences. Only a handful could scare up enough revenue to afford to have a real multi-line (4 or more) telephone drop put in and maintained. The advent of the AT command set modems of the day running at 2400 baud and above in later years could provide snappy performance when using text only sceens but bogged terribly at software or image downloads. The AT command set first appeared in the Hayes modem and quickly became a standard. Every few years and in some cases only months speed would increase and everybody who could afford would dump thier old one for a faster one. Sometimes the new speeds became available before the last latest greatest even got wide usage. PC could have at most 4 standard serial cards for connecting to modems and it was not long before several companies offered a single card with 4, 8, and 16 serial ports on it. Digiboard was one company that is still in existence selling multiport serial cards. With the ability to put four 16 port cards in a PC you could get 64 modems and telephone lines going. This often worked well as the difference in the computer load of delivering character based content and todays image and video loaded content is extreme. Some would say modern computer power is mostly wasted on presentation fluf instead of condensed useful information. In the early 1990’s some providers started using custom terminal programs that could handle graphics and snazzy fonts, buttons, and sliders. This soon gave way to the standard web browser about 1995 with the introduction of Windows 95 with built in internet connectivity and supporting programs. That was the begining of the end of the text based BBS and it quickly fell by the wayside. Today there are a few that still use modems but most of the remaining systems use the telnet protocol over the internet. This does free the user from long distance telephone charges that one could encounter in the old days if one was determined to connect to an out of town BBS. This opening up of inexpensive remote visitors has helped keep the character based BBS alive if only as a niche hobby.


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