Before the internet came along with its luxuries of colorful pages, video chat, e-mail and streaming videos, the only communication available between computer users was using an electronic BBS (Bulletin Board). All you needed was a modem and even in India, BBS’s were buzzing. College students were the ones behind it here. There were a couple of popular ones in major cities and there were a group of regulars who visited them. The news of BBS’s only spread by word of mouth and through magazines.
To connect to one, you would have to keep redialing for a very long period of time — all thanks to busy and sometimes noisy disturbance ridden phone lines. After all, BBS’s were setup by enthusiasts at home and typically, only five to ten users could be connected at a time. Once connected, you would have access to a few documents, a couple of downloadable shareware games, couple of text-based RPGs, a chat program and of course, a message board — all of which were refreshed from time to time. At a time when getting any kind of data (documents, games, applications, etc.) was only possible through floppies exchanged by hand, this was an exciting discovery! There was no multitasking either – so if you wanted to chat with someone, you would have to just wait on that screen till someone came around. It was the arrival of dialup ISPs and some free ISPs that spelt the end of the BBS era sometime towards the late 90s.
More than three decades after BBS’s first came around, the internet has taken over everything, and those who experienced BBS’s would agree that we’ve been pampered in the last few years. The value of the data visible is only truly appreciated by a few. Those who want to check out what the craze was about, and for those who want to revisit the nostalgia, visit www.synchro. net/sbbslist.html. BBS’s have moved to the internet and you can connect to them. At least now, you won’t connect via a 14.4kbps modem and a rickety telephone line, instead a Telnet client and an internet connection will do just fine.