BBS Builder Is A Framework For Running Your Own PETSCII Paradise

The 80s and 90s were the glory days of the BBS. The plain old telephone system was responsible for bringing us connection to other digital beings, along with plenty of spuriously-obtained software and inappropriate ASCII art. [Francesco Sblendorio] has created BBS Builder to harken back to this great era, allowing people to build their own BBSs as they see fit!

BBS Builder consists of basic classes for construction a BBS that operates in PETSCII mode. If that’s unfamiliar to you, it’s the character encoding created by Commodore, also known as CBM ASCII. BBSs created through this software can be accessed by a variety of appropriately 80s machines. The Github page outlines how to create a basic BBS using the code that can be customized to your own liking.

[Francesco] notes the system is compatible with Commodore 64s running RR-NET compatible network cards, WiFi modem cards, and 1541Ultimate hardware using UltimateTerm. Various other methods are supported too, as well as PCs and Macs running Syncterm.

Running a BBS was like running your own website back in the day. With that said, they also had a distinct community flair that is somehow missing from today’s web. Be sure to sound off with your favorite BBS in the comments!

11 thoughts on “BBS Builder Is A Framework For Running Your Own PETSCII Paradise

  1. There also was Packet-Radio (AX.25) on the amateur radio bands..
    And X.25 networks the professionals used to use (databases, ATMs, banks etc).

    On the landlines, there also was CompuServe, Prodigy, Qantum-Link (Q-Link) which all had some sort of chatroom system. CompuServe had its “CB Simulator”, for example. A reference to CB radio.

    In Europe, we had Videotex online services (“Minitel” etc).
    On TV, there was Videotext/Teletext (Ceefax types)..

    That was years before AOL, already.. The late 70s and the 80s weren’t that of a digital stone age, as it may seem in retrospect.

    But of course, the nerdy kids of the 80s most fondly do remember computer mailboxes (“BBSes”). That’s okay. Not everyone was a professional. ;)

      1. I remember installing the front-end shell for that on my WWIV board(and later TAG), and setting up a private network for my friends’ boards that ran concurrently. The software was actually quite versatile in that respect. Everyone had a network identifier number and the net architecture reminded me heavily of the architecture of the galaxy in TradeWars game – including the numbering system.

        When Windows 95 came along we all thought how great it was that we could run our boards and do other stuff at the same time, except the fact that Windows used Unicode, not ASCII/ANSI, so all of our TheDraw art derived from escape characters looked horrible or didn’t work at all.

        1. I remember AX25, too. Another thing like autopatches that have just pretty much gone away. Now it’s all the kind of lame APRS traffic. Ah, the good old days… I remember setting up a packet station at my school. We had a TNC that could grab APT, too, that was fun.

          1. I did packet radio for awhile and loved it. I’d like to have the echolink equivalent for texting that is not APRS-tied. The possibilities with such a system are far-reaching.

  2. I used to run a 4 line BBS on TBBS (The Bread Board System – Phil Becker) with an 8 serial port DigiBoard. I am still looking for the website but the code was modified to run over the internet. The files are free to download and TBBS is one of the easiest BBS to set up. Once I find the blog I will post it if anyone is interested.

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