Before the Internet. . . before Netscape. . . before Windows. . . there were Bulletin Board Services. A buddy of mine got me hooked on calling BBSes quite by accident. I had just purchased my first IBM-compatible computer (a clone 386 with 2 MB of RAM and a huge 40 MB HDD) and was happily playing solitaire when he showed up with a device for my computer called a modem. It wasn't long before I began subscribing to several local BBSes and making friends on-line.|
This led me to assisting in the operation of a BBS in Beloit that became the first service in Rock County to offer access through 20 dial-up lines. I'm currently running my own system, Castle Rock BBS, which started out with 7 phone lines and gradually phased down to none in May of 2008. It is now accessible via telnet (casrock.com) and is licensed for 26 telnet connections. Being the "biggest" BBS in your local calling area was important back in the late 80's and early 90's because most people didn't make long distance modem calls. We were saving our money for $50.00/meg RAM chips or $5.00/meg hard drives or $150.00 14.4K modems, and competition was fierce for the local customer base. The Internet changed that.
Back in those good old days, when the Internet was just for college professors doing military research, we normal folk used our modems to connect to computer bulletin boards. They were terminal based, meaning you sent and received ASCII and ANSI characters. Windows were something you cleaned in the spring and Macs were a brand of trucks. Computer geeks rately "surfed" out-of-town due to long distance phone charges.
Castle Rock BBS is a simple entertainment system, a place for local callers to hang out. There are some on-line games to play: MajorMud, Backgammon, Monopoly (BBSopoly), Scrabble (Crosswordz), Milleborne (AutoWars), Yahtzee, Hangman, Wheel of Fortune (Guess What), PacMan (PacDude), and others. There are local forum areas where people can read and write messages for other members.|
You can telnet to Castle Rock BBS with any telnet application. If you are using Windows (3.1, 95 or 98) I recommend using CommNet, a telnet/terminal program that handles ANSI emulation very well. Windows ME appears to handle ANSI better than previous versions (thanks Microsoft, only 7 years too late). I haven't tried connecting via a Vista machine yet. ANSI is necessary to play some of the games on Castle Rock BBS. CommNet may be downloaded from Stroud's Consummate Winsock Apps
If using CommNet, log onto the internet, open up the program, and click on the Commmunications menu. Click on the add Telnet entry menu. Put "Castle Rock BBS" in the Name box and "casrock.com" in the Host Name box. Leave 23 in the Port Number box and click on the save button. Click on the Setup Menu and choose Terminal settings. Set the Emulation type to "PC ANSI", the Backspace Character to "Delete" and put a check in the box for "Enable Word Wrap" under the options. Click on the OK button and then Click on the Setup Menu and the Default session rows/columns. Make sure "24X80" is checked. From the Setup Menu, check the Keypad Mode and be sure "Numeric" is checked.
Telnet is a form of character-based modem communication over the internet. It has the advantage of by-passing long-distance phone charges, but since data is moved in metered packets, rather than in a continuous stream, the telnet user typically experiences brief pauses (or annoyingly long pauses with a slow telnet connection) while typing or waiting for information to be written to the screen.
Either way you get there, you will be asked for a User-ID when the logon screen comes up. Just type "new" and you'll be guided through a registration proceedure. Callers will be validated by e-mail. YOU WILL NEED TO GIVE A VALID INTERNET E-MAIL ADDRESS WHEN YOU SIGN UP IN ORDER TO BE VALIDATED.
After your account is verified, you will be given GUEST access to try out the BBS so you can decide if you wish to become a member. Be forewarned... the technology most BBSes use was state of the art - in 1990! You won't get 24 million color graphics, or wav/midi file sounds. ANSI is strictly 16 colors and DOS PC speaker beeps. You also won't get banner ads from DoubleStuck, counters loading from Kookamunga, or a plethora of of pop-up windows from Perdition.